Kyrgyz leader calls for urgent measures to maintain 'rule of law'
BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov ordered his government on Thursday to take "urgent measures" in order to maintain the rule of law after a botched night raid to arrest his opponent, ex-president Almazbek Atambayev, turned violent.
Elite security forces failed to arrest Atambayev - who says corruption allegations against him are politically motivated - at his country house in a surprise raid on Wednesday. Atambayev's supporters gathered en masse to defend him, capturing several security operatives. One operative was killed.
"The head of state addressed Security Council members, stressing the necessity of carrying out all actions aimed at maintaining the rule of law, peace and security in the country, which calls for urgent measures," Jeenbekov's office said in a statement.
It did not give details on what these measures entailed.
Atambayev remains at his house in a village near the capital Bishkek. "Unfortunately, the authorities have not listened to my calls to act legally," he said in a video address posted online earlier on Thursday. He also urged security personnel not to use weapons against civilians.
Parliament accused Atambayev of corruption and stripped him of immunity from prosecution in June after he fell out with Jeenbekov in the former Soviet republic that is closely allied with Moscow.
Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a Russian military airbase, is notoriously volatile: two of its consecutive presidents have been deposed by violent riots in 2005 and 2010.
Atambayev, who took part in both revolts, helped to ensure a smooth succession and hoped to retain influence by installing then-ally Jeenbekov as successor in 2017. But within months, Jeenbekov purged Atambayev loyalists from the cabinet.
Late last month, Atambayev visited Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the latter expressed support for Jeenbekov in a statement made after the meeting.
(Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)