Kyrgyzstan police disband opposition rallies
Police broke up opposition rallies protesting the outcome of Kyrgyzstan's recent presidential election on Wednesday, detaining dozens of demonstrators, AP reported.
Opposition activists accuse the government of rigging last week's vote, during which President Kurmanbek Bakiyev won a second term with 76 percent of the ballots.
Kyrgyzstan's stability is of interest to Russia and the United States. The Central Asian country hosts a U.S. air base crucial to operations in Afghanistan and has been the focus of competition between Washington and Moscow for regional influence.
The opposition planned separate rallies and marches around the country Wednesday, rather than call all of its supporters to the center of the capital, Bishkek, in an effort to avoid a confrontation with police.
Up to 100 protesters gathered on the outskirts of Bishkek, holding flags and placards saying "Give the stolen votes back to the people."
Police ordered them to go to a park even further away from the city center, but as protesters began marching toward the park, their path was blocked by about 200 police officers. Some protesters fled and others were taken to buses and driven to detention centers.
Police spokesman Bakyt Seitov said 42 protesters were detained and would be fined.
Another 22 protesters were detained at a rally in the village of Besh-Kungei, about six miles (10 kilometers) from the capital, as they tried to organize a march, said a statement from Interior Ministry.
Police also blocked attempts to demonstrate in other villages and towns, opposition spokesman Zhoomart Saparbayev said.
Seitov said opposition activists gathered in several villages, but were only holding meetings at their party headquarters.
Almazbek Atambayev, the main candidate running against Bakiyev, told The Associated Press "our people are different - you cannot scare them. This will bring about a result that is not expected."