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Jailed ex-Kyrgyz leader ‘hospitalised with pneumonia’

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 27, 2019 Former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev stands outside his residence in the village of Koi-Tash near the capital Bishkek. – Kyrgyzstan’s former president was sentenced to 11 years in jail on June 23, 2020 over the illegal release of a crime boss, in a case that caused a power struggle with his successor to turn violent. (Photo by Vyacheslav OSELEDKO / AFP)


Ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan’s former president Almazbek Atambayev has been hospitalised with pneumonia but tested negative for the coronavirus, the Central Asian country’s security committee said Tuesday.

Atambayev, 63, was last week sentenced to over 11 years in jail for his role in allowing a crime boss early release from incarceration and faces a host of other charges including murder.

While noting that Atambayev’s coronavirus test had come back negative, the State National Security Committee said that Atambayev “met several times with lawyers and relatives who handed over papers and objects by hand” in violation of new prison protocols.

The security committee also said that one of Atambayev’s lawyers, Zamir Zhooshev, had symptoms of the virus.

Ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, which has seen two revolutions in less than two decades, saw a standoff last year between Atambayev and his one-time protege President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Atambayev refused to attend sentencing last Tuesday, claiming health grounds.

Authorities had previously described his health as satisfactory.

Atambayev has denied all charges but said that he expects no justice from courts loyal to his successor.

He faces a series of other charges, including murder, in a separate court case covering violent clashes between his supporters and the security forces last year.

The clashes occurred after he ignored a police summons for questioning over the case on the early release of the crime boss, ethnic Chechen Aziz Batukayev.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with both men last year in a bid to defuse tensions that became public just months after Jeenbekov’s inauguration.

Kyrgyzstan’s constitution forbids presidents from standing for a second term, a stipulation devised after two successive presidents were overthrown amid accusations of nepotism and massive corruption.


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