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Kyrgyz interim leader says president stirs turmoil

Posted by seumasach on April 9, 2010

Euronews

9th April, 2010

By Maria Golovnina BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan’s pro-Russian self-proclaimed government said on Friday supporters of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev were preparing to stoke further violence after mass protests forced him to flee the capital.

The former Soviet state has become the arena for superpower rivalry in Central Asia, with the interim leadership saying on Thursday that it could close a U.S. air base used to supply NATO troops to Afghanistan, retaining only Russia’s air base.

Roza Otunbayeva, who led opposition to Bakiyev and declared on Thursday she was leading a provisional government after Wednesday’s uprising, said it had control over the armed forces and would do everything it could to prevent a civil war.

“(Bakiyev’s) forces are not preparing to surrender. You can see how many incidents of violence there are around the city orchestrated by their side, by Bakiyev’s supporters,” she said.

“We have information that there were several bombs planted in three public places in Bishkek,” Otunbayeva told reporters.

Russia is the only world power to have recognised Otunbayeva’s government and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was quick to offer aid to the new rulers, who said the country’s former Soviet master had helped oust Bakiyev.

The uprising was sparked by discontent over corruption, nepotism and rising utility prices. A third of the population live below the poverty line. Remittances from the 800,000 Kyrgyz working in Russia make up about 40 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP.

While his security forces fired on protesters besieging the government building in the capital on Wednesday, Bakiyev fled to the south of the country, where he has traditional support in the regions of Osh and Jalalabad, Otunbayeva said.

Vigilante groups organised by the self-proclaimed government spent Thursday night battling looters in the capital Bishkek to return calm to the city, where at least 75 people died in Wednesday’s clashes.

“We have enough resources and capabilities and all the people’s support that we need,” Otunbayeva said.

“All armed forces are under our control. The security forces, the police, of course, a lot of them are demoralised but they are out there with the people.”

HELP NEEDED

The U.S. Manas air base resumed normal operations on Friday after suspending flights due to the unrest, a spokesman said.

As the United States and Russia signed an arms reduction pact on Thursday in an effort to “reset” strained relations, a senior Russian official, who declined to be named, said Bakiyev had not fulfilled a promise to shut the U.S. base and that in future Kyrgyzstan should only have a Russian air base.

Otunbayeva indicated that in the south of the country of 5.3 million people the situation was more fluid.

“In Osh we now have a governor who belongs to our forces,” she said. “In Jalalabad, a governor who opposes Bakiyev’s rule came to power today. We think they need help in order to stabilise the situation.”

The new Kyrgyz prosecutor said he would open a criminal case against Bakiyev’s son Maxim, who heads a Kyrgyz investment agency, and his two brothers.

“We have testimonial evidence that these people had given orders to shoot against civilians,” said Baitemir Ibrayev, the general prosecutor under the new self-proclaimed government.

On Friday, mourners gathered in central Bishkek and at funerals around the city for the victims, many of them enraged by the actions of the security forces, who had fought running battles with armed protesters.

“Bakiyev must be tried and executed for all these crimes,” said Fatima Imanaliyeva, a former prosecutor in tears on the main square in Bishkek.

Outside the village of Archa-Beshik, family members of slain protester Kudash Abdyldayev said they blamed Bakiyev personally for the deaths.

“We will never forgive this. Bakiyev’s dogs fired on people who just wanted justice,” said Abdyldayev’s cousin Damir.

Otunbayeva’s government said it had sent a delegation to Moscow on Friday for talks with senior Russian officials.

The delegation was headed by Almaz Atambayev, Otunbayeva’s first deputy. He was not able to be reached by mobile phone.

“He is in Moscow. The agenda is unclear,” said Avlanbek Dzhumabayev, a spokesman for the new government.

(Additional reporting by Conor Sweeney, Robin Paxton and Guy Faulconbridge; writing by Philippa Fletcher; editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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