A senior opposition member of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament said on Monday he had fled the country after an attempt on his life, amid accusations of a clampdown on pro-democracy activists.
Bakyt Beshimov said he had left the Central Asian state, which hosts a US airbase used to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan, out of fear that he was being targeted for his opposition to Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
“I was compelled to temporarily abandon the country, after long and purposeful consideration, because of a direct attempt to physically exterminate me in August,” he said in a statement, without giving details.
Beshimov had been lecturing in the US since July presidential elections in which Bakiyev was re-elected in a landslide vote. The opposition and Western election observers say the polls were marred by massive fraud.
The announcement confirms rumors about why Beshimov had not returned.
Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished former Soviet state nestled in a spur of China’s soaring Tien Shan mountains, is one of Central Asia’s most politically volatile countries.
In the July election, Beshimov led the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Almazbek Atambayev, who also claimed that the government had made an attempt on his life in the run-up to the vote.
Beshimov promised to continue his work promoting democracy in Kyrgyzstan but gave no indication of when he would return.
“The state operates today as an illegitimate criminal authority which does not recognize the elementary right of the people to have its own opinion. I do not recognize such an authority,” he said.
Bakiyev, who came to power on the back of violent street protests in 2005, is accused by opposition groups and rights activists of clamping down, sometimes violently, on independent political and media voices.