Ousted Kyrgyz President Arrives in Belarus


MOSCOW-The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan, who was ousted following bloody antigovernment riots this month, is being harbored now in Belarus, that country's president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, said Tuesday, though authorities in Kyrgyzstan said they would press for his extradition.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the former president of Kyrgyzstan, resigned last week and left Kyrgyzstan for neighboring Kazakhstan in a deal brokered by the presidents of the United States, Russia and Kazakhstan. The deal was meant to shore up Kyrgyzstan's provisional government and halt further violence in the strategically important Central Asian nation, which hosts an American military base crucial for supplying troops and equipment for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Mr. Lukashenko told members of the Belarus Parliament that Mr. Bakiyev arrived from Kazakhstan with several members of his family in Belarus's capital, Minsk, late Monday evening, Belarussian news agencies reported.

"On Monday night, I ordered the appropriate agencies to organize Bakiyev's transportation to Minsk," Mr. Lukashenko said. "He had requested this more than once."

It was unclear whether Mr. Bakiyev would remain in Belarus permanently, though his presence there could further isolate Belarus and its authoritarian president, Mr. Lukashenko, who has often clashed with the West and neighboring Russia.

Mr. Lukashenko's decision appeared, in particular, to be a swipe at Russia, which seemed to play at least a partial role in paving the way for Mr. Bakiyev's ouster.

Mr. Bakiyev's failure to shut down the American base at Manas airport prompted a series of measures from the Kremlin - from incriminating reports on Russian government television about the Bakiyev government to tariff price increases on refined petroleum products - that appeared aimed at undermining Mr. Bakiyev's authority before his government was toppled.

Of late, Mr. Lukashenko has accused Russia of similarly interfering in the sovereignty of Belarus. Russian officials did not immediately respond to the news of Mr. Bakiyev's arrival in Minsk.

Mr. Bakiyev's presence in Belarus could also strain relations with the provisional government in Kyrgyzstan. The provisional government took control on April 7 after antigovernment protesters overran police and presidential guards, who had opened fire on the crowd with live rounds, killing scores of people.

The interim authorities signed off on the deal to allow the former president to leave the country, on the condition that several members of his family and close allies remain behind to stand trial for their roles in the bloodshed.

On Tuesday, however, Edil Baisalov, the chief of staff for the interim government, appeared to backtrack, saying that the government would eventually seek Mr. Bakiyev's extradition.

"The Kyrgyz government counts on our Belarussian partners to keep a good watch on the deposed president," Mr. Baisalov said in a telephone interview. "Soon enough he is going to be charged not only with the bloody murder of 86 young peaceful demonstrators, but also with numerous crimes against the people of Kyrgyzstan."

Even with Mr. Bakiyev gone, the fragile governing coalition has had to scramble to restore order. There have been reports of rioting and looting by Bakiyev supporters across the country, particularly in and around the capital, Bishkek, and in the south of the country, the tribal stronghold of the ousted president.

Violence has also been directed against ethnic and religious minorities in Kyrgyzstan, a mostly Muslim nation.

On Tuesday, Russia's president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, ordered his nation's Defense Ministry to protect Russians in Kyrgyzstan, according to the Kremlin Web site. The statement did not make clear how the Russian military, which also has a base in Kyrgyzstan, would ensure the safety of Russians in the country.


Partners: Social Network