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Ousted Kyrgyz President Takes Refuge in Belarus

VOA News 20 April 2010

Kyrgyzstan's ousted president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has taken refuge in Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that Mr. Bakiyev and his family are being protected in the capital, Minsk.

Mr. Bakiyev fled the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, on April 7 during violent anti-government protests that killed 84 people. He traveled to neighboring Kazakhstan last week, but left the Central Asian country on Monday.

The interim Kyrgyz government said Tuesday that it will seek Mr. Bakiyev's extradition. The chief of staff for interim leader Roza Otunbayeva, Edil Baisalov, said the government expects Belarus to provide the ousted president with protection and security until he is held liable for "bloody crimes."

Kyrgyzstan has remained tense since an interim government led by the opposition took power.

Security forces were on patrol Tuesday on the outskirts of Bishkek, a day after at least five people were killed in ethnic violence.

Hundreds of Kyrgyz set fire to homes of ethnic Russian and Turkish residents in the village of Mayevka on Monday, in an effort to seize their land.

The interim government vowed to quash any further unrest, as marauding crowds were spotted throughout the capital on Tuesday.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Tuesday ordered the country's defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, to take measures to protect Russians in Kyrgyzstan. The Kremlin did not give details.

Mr. Medvedev also said the Kyrgyz interim government must take steps to create political stability, including holding elections.

The Russian leader discussed the situation in Kyrgyzstan during talks with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Moscow.

President Karimov said the current developments in Kyrgyzstan are dangerous for all countries that border it.

The European Union says it is ready to offer the interim government political and financial help if it embraces democracy. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday the provisional government needs to commit to a clear plan for how to return to constitutional order and the rule of law.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also urged Kyrgyzstan's interim leaders to restore public order in the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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