The White House in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, has caught fire, with videos showing black smoke billowing from its facade. The blaze broke out shortly after it was stormed by protesters, who alleged fraud in the parliamentary elections.
Footage has emerged showing the building, which is the seat of both presidential and parliamentary powers, as it was consumed by flames overnight into Tuesday.
The fire has enveloped several floors of the 7-story building, and plumes of thick black smoke could be seen swirling in the air. Fire crews were seen arriving at the scene.
The White House in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan burns after having been stormed by protesters, denouncing this weekend’s parliamentary election as stolen © Sputnik
The blaze ignited shortly after the government headquarters were taken over by protesters, denouncing this weekend’s parliamentary election as stolen and accusing the government of vote-buying and intimidation.
Горит Белый дом. В Бишкеке. Президент Атамбаев на свободе.
Как-то так….🤔 pic.twitter.com/qz6Lu65Hql
— ❌lia tkacheva (@liamar1) October 6, 2020
Бишкек. Горит "Белый дом" pic.twitter.com/PJJ4B68I2H
— Alver ❌ (@Alla91748059) October 6, 2020
The protesters demanded the results of the vote – which showed only four parties passing the 7-percent threshold, two of them considered pro-government – be annulled and that new elections take place.
The Birimdik (Unity) party, which is considered pro-government and which racked up the biggest share of votes on Sunday (24.52 percent), announced that it’s ready to take part in a repeat of the parliamentary vote. Asylbek Jeenbekov, the younger brother of incumbent President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, is a Birimdik member.
While Birimdik called on other three parties, which are poised to enter the parliament, to follow its lead and pledge to take part in the new elections, that did not placate the supporters of the losing opposition parties who hit the streets. A total of 16 parties took part in the Sunday vote, vying for 120 parliamentary seats.
Shortly after storming the White House, protesters freed former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev, sentenced to 11 years for corruption, as well as his former chief of staff and ex-PM Sapar Isakov, who was serving a lengthy prison sentence on an array of corruption and embezzlement charges.
Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian state that gained independence in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, however the country has been marred by a series of successive coups over the last fifteen years. In 2005, the country’s first president, Askar Akayev, was ousted in the ‘Tulip Revolution’ after almost 15 years in power. Another coup in April 2010 saw then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev being toppled amid violent unrest.
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The White House in Bishkek played a central symbolic role in the unrest both in 2005 and 2010. The fire that broke out during the 2010 turmoil decimated portions of the building, partially destroying government archives.
RT with additional input by GVS News Desk