BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz police used teargas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people demonstrating on Monday against the result of a parliamentary election, after some protesters tried to break into the government headquarters.
Gunshots and stun grenades could be heard as riot police with dogs, backed by several vehicles, moved into the central square in the capital Bishkek and the protesters retreated.
Two establishment parties supporting closer links between the former Soviet republic and Russia look set to dominate the new parliament after Sunday’s election, which Western observers said had been marred by vote buying.
Supporters of several parties that failed to win any seats, according to preliminary results, had rallied in the central square to denounce the vote as fraudulent. They said more people were heading to Bishkek to join the protests.
Some of them then tried to break the gates leading to a building housing both the president and parliament, which overlooks the square, at which point the police started dispersing the rally.
Some protesters hurled rocks at the police and the health ministry said two policemen were hospitalised with concussion.
The Central Asian country of 6.5 million people has a history of political turmoil. In the past 15 years, two presidents have been toppled by revolts and a third is in prison after falling out with his successor, the current president Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
The confrontation, should it develop into a prolonged stand-off, could add Kyrgyzstan to the growing list of Russian allies - along with Belarus and Armenia - facing political or security crises.
Reporting by Vladimir Pirogov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Alex Richardson and Gareth Jones
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