Russia detains, extradites ex-Kyrgyz minister

The extradition of former Interior Minister Kongantiyev signals strong Russian support for the new administration

Russia detains, extradites ex-Kyrgyz minister


Russian special forces detained the ousted Kyrgyz government's top police official and dispatched him overnight to Bishkek, officials in Kyrgyzstan's interim government said on Monday.

The extradition of former Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongantiyev signals strong Russian support for the new administration in Bishkek, which came to power after an April 7 uprising.

Ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has claimed Moscow may have played a role in his overthrow.

Former Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongantiyev - who had been beaten during protests on April 8 and forced to shout "Down with Bakiyev!" - was detained on Sunday in Russia and sent to Bishkek, a spokesman for Kyrgyzstan's National Security Service said. "We have him in a pre-trial detention centre," he said.

Officials did not say where Kongantiyev had been detained but Russian media said he had been found in Moscow.

The interim government's chief of staff, Edil Baisalov, confirmed Kongantiyev had been detained by Russian security forces and sent overnight by plane to Bishkek.

He said Kongantiyev was under arrest and was being investigated for his role in the deadly upheaval earlier this month, among other things.

During the night of April 7-8, troops loyal to Bakiyev shot into crowds of protesters, some of whom were armed and fought back. At last 85 people were killed.

The unrest disrupted flights through a U.S. air base that supports operations in Afghanistan and adds to the strategic significance of the impoverished ex-Soviet state.

Russia's extradition of the former top official contrasts with neighbouring Belarus, which took in Bakiyev last week and has criticised other ex-Soviet states' responses to the Kyrgyz crisis. The Kremlin made clear that Bakiyev, who fled Kyrgyzstan days after his overthrow, was not welcome in Russia.

Russia has offered Kyrgyzstan financial aid, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin expressed support for the interim government as he met its leader, Rosa Otunbayeva, in Bishkek on Monday. "Russia is ready to help," Karasin said. The United States, eager to keep its lease on the Manas air base and maintain influence in central Asia, has also offered support for the interim government, which is planning to hold elections in October.
 

Reuters
 

Last Mod: 26 Nisan 2010, 16:05
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