Former Kyrgyz Prosecutor, Now In Opposition, Convicted In Politically Charged Trial

BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz court has handed a five-year prison term to former Prosecutor-General Aida Salyanova, who is now an opposition lawmaker, but postponed her imprisonment until her 2-year-old daughter reaches age 14.

The abuse-of-office conviction of Salyanova, a legislator from the Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, came amid political tension five days before a presidential election in the Central Asian country.

In addition to the postponed prison sentence, the Lenin District Court ruled that Salyanova's property must be confiscated.

Salyanova was accused of illegally prolonging the license of a lawyer with links to then-President Kurmanbek Bakiev's son Maksim shortly before Bakiev's ouster in 2010, when she was prosecutor-general.

Salyanova told RFE/RL that she and her lawyers proved her innocence during the trial, which she said was politically motivated.

Authorities targeted Salyanova for investigation in March, days after Ata-Meken leader Omurbek Tekebaev was arrested on what his supporters say were trumped-up bribe-taking allegations.

Tekebaev, who was named as Ata-Meken's candidate in the October 15 election shortly after his arrest, was convicted in August and sentenced to eight years in prison.

His supporters say the conviction was aimed at preventing him from running in the election.

President Almazbek Atambaev, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term, has faced criticism from opponents for openly backing the candidate from the ruling Social Democratic Party, former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.