Asia

Russian ally Kyrgyzstan holds election on Sunday amid wave of discontent

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BISHKEK: Kyrgyzstan, Russia's closest ally in Central Asia, will vote in a parliamentary election on Sunday (Oct 4) amid signs of widespread disaffection with the ruling elite.

Potential unrest in the impoverished mountainous nation could add to the woes of the Kremlin, which faces sanctions over the suspected poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a political crisis in Belarus and conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Hundreds of people staged an "independence march" protest in the capital Bishkek last Sunday after a video surfaced online in which a pro-presidential party leader spoke of a need to integrate more closely with Russia.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Monday, suggested the protesters were working against the 6.5 million population of the former Soviet republic, which hosts a Russian military air base.

"Forces opposed to the stability and development of our country have stepped up their activity on the eve of the election," he said.

The country has a history of instability: in the past 15 years, two presidents have been toppled by revolts and a third is in prison after falling out with his successor.

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A vote against all parties was the most popular choice of respondents to a rare nationwide opinion poll conducted on behalf of the US-backed International Republican Institute in August. The poll also showed 53 per cent of respondents believed the country was headed in the wrong direction.

Respondents chose unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic as their top concerns. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development expects Kyrgyzstan's gross domestic product to pluRead More – Source

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