Volatile Kyrgyzstan temporarily bans protests over coronavirus fears

By: News Desk      Published: 07:21 PM, 5 Mar, 2020
Volatile Kyrgyzstan temporarily bans protests over coronavirus fears

A court in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday banned mass rallies in the centre of the capital until July as the volatile country's protest season gets under way.

A court in the capital Bishkek ruled to accept a request by the city administration for the restriction, which cited rally organisers' failure to keep order and the threat of the coronavirus as reasons for a ban.

The move that will see rallies prohibited in the city centre until July 1 came after around a hundred people were detained this week over a rally to free an opposition politician. 

The rally spun out of control as protesters began marching towards the country's main seat of government, triggering clashes with police who used water cannon and stun grenades to restore control.  

Kyrgyzstan is expected to hold toughly-contested parliamentary elections in the autumn. 

"As practice shows, the leaders and organisers of such large gatherings do not control the process," the city administration said in its request to the court. 

"As a result, there are mass disturbances and obstruction to traffic."

Kyrgyzstan has so far had no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus that has killed 3,300 people and infected more than 90,000, but the city administration said the global spread of the disease made "the conduct of activities involving a large number of people" undesirable. 

Women's groups had planned a rally to mark International Women's Day on Sunday and protest against gender-based violence in a country where kidnapping for marriage remains common. 

Last year the demonstration angered conservative groups, which have grown in strength in recent years.

Two spring uprisings toppled successive Kyrgyz presidents in 2005 and 2010, giving the country a reputation as ex-Soviet Central Asia's most volatile country. 

The other four "stans" in the region where China and Russia enjoy privileged interests host entrenched authoritarian regimes that rule without formal opposition.