Kyrgyzstan opposition MPs charged with attempted coup
By Olga Dzyubenko
BISHKEK (Reuters) - A court in Kyrgyzstan on Friday charged three opposition nationalist members of parliament with attempting to stage a coup after they led a crowd which tried to storm government headquarters in a protest over a Canadian-owned gold mine.
The charges followed a protest on Wednesday during which demonstrators demanded that the state should nationalize the Kumtor gold mine, Kyrgyzstan's flagship venture with Canada's Centerra Gold Inc. The mine accounted for 12 percent of Kyrgyz GDP and over a half of all its exports in 2011.
Calls to nationalize Kumtor, the largest gold mine operated in Central Asia by a Western-based concern, risk scaring off potential investors needed to revive a shrinking economy.
The clashes between police and supporters of the opposition Ata Zhurt party in the former Soviet republic were the most violent in Bishkek, the capital, since the April 2010 revolt that ousted then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
The three parliamentarians held responsible - Kamchibek Tashiyev, Sadyr Zhaparov and Talant Mamytov - were detained by security police on Thursday. If found guilty, their lawyers said they could face between 12 and 20 years in jail.
"The court ordered that all three be put into custody for two months," Ikramidin Aitkulov, Tashiyev's lawyer, told Reuters outside the district court in the center of the Kyrgyz capital. "Then a trial will be held."
He said he believed the charges against his client were politically motivated. "Everything is being done to eliminate a political rival," he said. "Tashiyev's only task at that rally was to draw public attention to the problem of Kumtor."
Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, who was appointed last month, visited the Kumtor gold mine on Monday and promised the venture would not be nationalized. Continued...