Security services in Kyrgyzstan said Friday that they had arrested three politicians including a former minister on charges of plotting a coup, ahead of an anti-government rally later this month.
Three members of a group called the People's Parliament movement were arrested late Thursday on coup charges in the Central Asian country's capital Bishkek, a spokesman for the GKNB security service told AFP.
"Three leaders of the so-called People's Parliament have been arrested in Bishkek," the spokesman said by telephone.
"They stand accused of preparing a violent seizure of power in the country and destabilization of the political situation in the country," he said.
The Kyrgyz security services arrested the leader of the People's Parliament Bekbolot Talgarbekov, a former agriculture minister, along with former judge Marat Sultanov and a politician who has previously run for president, Torobay Kolubayev.
The group planned to hold a rally this month on Bishek's central square, the site of two uprisings in 2005 and 2010, and had demanded incumbent President Almazbek Atambayev leave his post before May 17.
Talgarbekov previously told local media that his little-known movement, founded in April, has backing from high-ranking officers in the Russian military, although many doubted the claims.
A spokeswoman for the Russian embassy in Bishkek Dariya Pakhomova refused to comment on what she called "the internal matters of Kyrgyzstan" when contacted by AFP.
Currently three other former politicians from a separate opposition group, Bektur Asanov, Kubanychbek Kadyrov and Ernest Karybekov, are awaiting trial on coup charges after they were arrested in March.
The trio had been involved in protests over a range of issues, including government policy regarding the contested state border with neighboring Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan is generally viewed as a close ally of Moscow, and joined the Kremlin-led Eurasian Economic Union last year.
The economically troubled country of six million people has seen two governments overthrown and ethnic violence claim hundreds of lives since it gained independence in 1991.
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