Human Rights Watch urges Kyrgyz to drop charges against anti-Putin protesters
BISHKEK -- Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement last Friday (March 29) asked Kyrgyzstan to drop its case against a couple accused of "inciting national enmity" after they protested Russian President Vladimir Putin's Thursday (March 28) trip to Bishkek.
Nurlan Karymshakov, 48, and Gulzana Imayeva, 38, held up anti-Putin posters outside the Russian embassy in Bishkek last Wednesday (March 27), one day before Putin's arrival.
"Publicly expressing negative views of the Russian president is well within the bounds of exercising free speech, protected under both Kyrgyz and international law," Mihra Rittmann, senior Central Asia researcher at HRW, said, according to the statement. "Kyrgyz authorities should immediately withdraw these unfounded charges and drop the case."