Tensions are rising in Kyrgyzstan as the country gears up for presidential elections on Sunday. Fears are growing of a repetition of the 2010 unrest when hundreds were killed in inter-ethnic carnage.
The republic’s law enforcement agencies are on high alert in order to prevent any clashes.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyz Council of Human Rights activists report that men of athletic build have appeared in Uzbek neighborhoods of the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions in southern Kyrgyzstan asking residents who they are going to vote for.
“If they do not like the voters’ answers, the men threaten a repeat of the June 2010 events,” the statement reads, as cited by Interfax.
Back then, ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks clashed in the south of the former Soviet republic, leaving more than 430 people dead and over 2,000 injured.
Now, according to rights activists, police are contributing to tensions between the nationalities since under the pretext of exposing extremists, they have been groundlessly detaining and torturing Uzbeks, reports the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.
The Council urged the Kyrgyz authorities “to step up security measures during elections in the country’s south,” and citizens “not to yield to threats and come to the polls and express their genuine position.”
The situation is also far from calm in the capital, Bishkek, where people – for one reason or another – gather for rallies almost daily.
Initially, 83 people were planning to contest the presidential seat. However, only 20, including Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, managed to register as candidates. Under the law, transitional president Roza Otunbayeva cannot take part in the race.