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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cherkizovsky Woes Hit Kyrgyz Vote

MTThe closed Bishkek cafe, which used to serve as a Kyrgyz polling station.

The closure of the sprawling Cherkizovsky Market in eastern Moscow has had an unexpected side effect on the upcoming presidential election in Kyrgyzstan.

A now-closed cafe in the market was one of seven polling stations for the estimated 100,000 Kyrgyz voters living in and around Moscow.

“The road there is cordoned off,” said Ryskadyr Imanaliyev, the Kyrgyz election official responsible for the closed polling station.

The Bishkek cafe, a two-story yellow structure on the territory of the Cherkizovsky Market, had a lock on its doors Tuesday. A group of migrants standing near said the cafe was closed along with the market.

Authorities closed the market, the largest in Eastern Europe, on June 29 after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asked why no one had been prosecuted over the confiscation last fall of purported contraband goods worth $2 billion.

The cafe polling station, where about 5,000 voters cast ballots in the 2005 Kyrgyz presidential election, has been moved to another cafe located a few hundred meters away, outside the Partizanskaya metro station, Imanaliyev said.    

The polling station at the market was convenient for the some 6,000 Kyrgyz nationals who worked in and around Cherkizovsky, Kyrgyz Consul Aidzhigit Buranov said Tuesday.

“We are working to inform people [about the move],” Buranov said.

He expressed hope that they would still vote.

Imanaliyev said the cafe outside Partizanskaya would be “even better” for voters because it was near the metro and near Izmaylovsky concert hall and athletics grounds, where free entertainment would be offered on voting days. Kyrgyz voters will be able to vote at the seven polling stations in Moscow on July 18, 19 and 23.

“We expect that more people would come,” Imanaliyev said.

Buranov said Kyrgyz voters in Russia and in their homeland differed in their attitude to the election, with support for incumbent President Kumanbek Bakiyev much higher in Moscow.

“Most people know Bakiyev and like him … [and have] little knowledge about the opposition candidates,” he said.

Police have temporarily closed the market after the Federal Consumer Protection Service accused its owners of violating a long list of sanitary and storage rules, and the Investigative Committee ordered City Hall to “eradicate the circumstances” that allowed the sale of smuggled goods.

The Investigative Committee said Tuesday that it would ask a court to extend the period of the closure for another 90 days, RIA-Novosti reported.

Meanwhile, a group of about 100 Chinese and Vietnamese vendors attempted to block traffic on Shchyolkovskoye Shosse on Tuesday morning to protest the market’s closure, Interfax reported. Police detained 15 protesters.

Rossia state television on June 8 aired a documentary about Cherkizovsky, suggesting that its owner, Azeri-born multimillionaire Telman Ismailov, had fallen out of the Kremlin’s favor.