Kyrgyz special police forces have stormed the residential compound of Almazbek Atambaev and reportedly arrested him following a night of violent clashes with his supporters that left one officer dead and dozens injured.
Local media, including Interfax and the news website 24.kg, reported that Atambaev was taken from the site on the outskirts of Bishkek in a police convoy that was headed to the Interior Ministry headquarters in the capital.
Interfax added that Farid Niyazov, Atambaev’s public defender, and Social Democrat party deputy chairwoman Kunduz Zholdubaeva accompanied Atambaev with police.
RFE/RL correspondents, who could not independently confirm the arrest, said police were using stun grenades and tear gas as they entered the compound, where hundreds of supporters, and Atambaev, were holed up. They also said gunshots could be heard.
The arrest comes after an earlier failed attempt to apprehend the 62-year-old, who faces five counts of criminally abusing his office when he was Kyrgyzstan’s president from 2011 to 2017 — including corruption, abuse of office, and illegally enriching himself. Atambaev rejects the charges.
During that failed attempt on August 7, six special police forces were taken hostage by Atambaev’s supporters during skirmishes that left at least 80 injured. Earlier on August 8, the six were released.
President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Atambaev traded barbs after the violence, with the former close allies blaming each other for the bloodshed.
Speaking at the extraordinary session of the National Security Council on August 8, Jeenbekov said Atambaev carries full responsibility for the deadly violence.
‘By putting up fierce armed resistance to the investigative measures undertaken within the framework of the law, Almazbek Atambaev gravely trampled upon the constitution and laws of Kyrgyzstan,’ Jeenbekov said.
‘If before yesterday Atambaev was summoned to investigation as a witness, now he will be treated as someone accused of committing a serious crime,’ he added.
Authorities first moved in on the former president’s compound to carry out a subpoena in an unspecified investigation but were met with armed resistance by Atambaev’s supporters.