Kyrgyz President Leaves Country
Kyrgyz President Leaves Country
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
Published: April 15, 2010
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan resigned and left the country for neighboring Kazakhstan on Thursday under an agreement brokered by Russia, regional leaders and the Obama administration. Within hours, security forces swooped in to arrest one of his brothers and a political ally.
The president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was driven from the capital, Bishkek, a week ago by violent street protests. He had been holed up in his ancestral village in the south of the country, trying to rally supporters and threatening violence if the interim government tried to arrest him.
Under the brokered deal, Mr. Bakiyev was compelled to leave without his younger brother, Zhanybek, the former head of the presidential security service, who is accused of ordering troops to open fire on demonstrators during the protests. Eighty-four people died and hundreds were wounded.
By Thursday evening, security forces had surrounded him in or near the southern city of Jalalabad and were awaiting his surrender, according to Edil Baisalov, the chief of staff for the interim government. The deposed president’s defense minister, Bakytbek Kalyev, was already in custody.
One relative of the deposed president particularly loathed by the new government, Mr. Bakiyev’s 32-year-old son, Maksim, was outside Kyrgyzstan when the uprising began. He has been implicated in corruption investigations related to fuel sales to the United States for its base in the country.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a statement saying the deal for Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s departure came out of “joint efforts” by President Obama, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.
A statement from Kazakhstan’s secretary of state and foreign minister, Kanat Saudabayev, called the president’s departure “an important step” toward preventing what some had said could become a civil war.
After days of defiance, Mr. Bakiyev began publicly broaching the possibility of resigning but tried to insist on guarantees of safety for himself and his family. But the leader of the interim government, Roza Otunbayeva, said Mr. Bakiyev must either stand trial in Kyrgyzstan or go into exile alone, leaving his relatives behind to face prosecution.
The details of Mr. Bakiyev’s departure and how fully it was planned by the major powers remained unclear Thursday evening.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Bakiyev had traveled in a convoy of minivans to a regional capital, Osh, where he intended to hold a rally. But a separate rally in support of the interim government was already under way nearby.
When Mr. Bakiyev tried to speak, some in the crowd of supporters of the interim government rushed toward him, causing his guards to fire guns into the air, according to witnesses. Nobody was wounded, but the shooting underlined the tension around Mr. Bakiyev.
The Obama administration had already signaled its support for the new leadership in Kyrgyzstan, and on Wednesday, a senior United States diplomat met with Ms. Otunbayeva.
While some members of the interim government have expressed resentment toward Washington for its support of Mr. Bakiyev, Ms. Otunbayeva said Tuesday that the lease on the American air base would be “automatically” extended beyond its expiration in July. Russia also has a military airfield in Kyrgyzstan, a strategic Central Asian country that Russia views as part of its post-Soviet sphere of influence.
The accommodation on the base most likely allowed the United States and Russia to work together in negotiating Mr. Bakiyev’s passage into exile, Mars Sariyev, a political analyst in Bishkek, said in a telephone interview.
“That solved the main problem for the United States,” he said.