Deposed Kyrgyz leader denies link with riots, says no plans to return

By RIA Novosti,

Minsk: Deposed Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said he had no plans to return from exile and denied any links to riots which continue to break out sporadically in the southern regions of the Central Asian country.

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“I will not return under such circumstances so as not to flare tensions any further. [Returning] is impossible in practice,” Bakiyev told RIA Novosti in Minsk, where he took refuge after fleeing Kyrgyzstan last month.

More than 80 people died in clashes between opposition protesters and security forces in Bishkek on April 7 and 8 and 1,500 were injured. The Kyrgyz interim government, led by Rosa Ottumbayeva, says the shooting of civilians took place with the knowledge and consent of Bakiyev. The ousted president denies these claims.

“All the charges which the so-called interim government has brought against me are absolutely groundless. I, as head of state, am not connected in any way to the defense of the White House [the Kyrgyz presidential office building]… Any security forces head, who was in the White House, can confirm this,” Bakiyev said.

The toppled Kyrgyz leader also said he was not responsible for ordering police to shoot at those who attacked the White House.

“It should be investigated where the shots came from, how they were fired and who is responsible,” Bakiyev said, adding that shots were also fired at his own office.

Since the first uprising, Kyrgyzstan has seen two waves of riots between supporters of the deposed leader and backers of the interim government, in which a total of seven people were killed and more than 90 were injured.

The interim government maintains that the recent riots in the south of the country, considered a traditional stronghold of Bakiyev and his supporters, are orchestrated from abroad.

Last week, up to 3,000 people participated in protests in the southern Kyrgyz town of Jalalabad. Shots were heard but no casualties have been reported.

“I have neither direct nor indirect involvement with what is going on in Kyrgyzstan,” Bakiyev said. “I left the country only to prevent a civil war. That’s why today I avoid phone conversations even with my brothers and sons [in Kyrgyzstan].”

He warned against an indifferent and passive attitude towards the recent events in Kyrgyzstan.
“If this precedent is not given adequate international legal treatment, the same thing [riots] could take place in any other CIS country.”

Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan are to be held in October, 2011 and the new Kyrgyz leader will come into power the following January. Otunbayeva was named provisional president of the country last week.