Kyrgyzstan's Bakiyev charged with mass murder

Three weeks after overthrowing President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the interim government now running Kyrgyzstan has charged him in absentia with mass murder. Belarus, which is hosting the deposed leader, has not said if it will extradite him.

Sergei Grits/AP
Kyrgyzstan's deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, speaks to media during a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, April 23. Bakiiyev has been charged with mass murder in the deadly uprising that forced him from office in this Central Asian country earlier this month.

Two weeks ago he was angling to reclaim his seat as president of Kyrgyzstan.

Now Kurmanbek Bakiyev – who was ousted from power on April 7, failed to take it back, then nine days later fled to Belarus – faces charges of mass murder, the interim government that deposed him announced on Tuesday.

At least 85 people were killed in the protests that overthrew Mr. Bakiyev, whose security forces fired on the protesters as they stormed government buildings in the capital, Bishkek. The interim government says he ordered the police and soldiers to shoot. Bakiyev has said that those orders came only after his office was fired upon.

After fleeing Bishkek, Bakiyev took refuge in his southern home town of Osh and tried to regroup, but after being shot at, agreed to an internationally brokered deal to resign and go into exile.

A vice-premier in the interim government, Azimbek Beknazarov, said Tuesday that Belarus is required under an agreement among former Soviet states to extradite the former president. Belarus had welcomed Bakiyev's arrival and has not said how it would respond to such a request.

The interim government is also accusing Bakiyev of abuse of power, and it plans to file charges against some of his family members and former ministers. It has arrested former defense minister Baktybek Kaliyev and is trying to track down for Bakiyev's brother Janysh, who ran the state guard. On Monday, former interior minister Moldomusa Kongantiyev was extradited from Moscow.

The current government has received shows of support from both Russia and the United States, but is still trying to solidify power at home. It faces questions of legitimacy and is being challenged by pro-Bakiyev protests in the south as well as riots pitting impoverished Kyrgyz against ethnic monirity land and business owners.

Kyrgyzstan hosts an air base that the US rents and is part of a critical supply line to troops in Afghanistan.


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