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Russia calls on Kyrgyz opposition to abstain from violence

Published time: April 22, 2010 13:21
Edited time: April 22, 2010 13:21
Blooded Kyrgyz police officers are held by opposition supporter during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010 (AFP Photo / Vyacheslav Oseledko)

Blooded Kyrgyz police officers are held by opposition supporter during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010 (AFP Photo / Vyacheslav Oseledko)

The Kremlin has called on all sides of the conflict in Kyrgyzstan to engage in peaceful dialogue and avoid further violence. Dmitry Medvedev has ordered increased security for Russia’s diplomatic missions in the country.

The diplomats in Bishkek have been ordered not to leave the territory of the Embassy because of the ongoing unrest in the capital.

Russia has also sent paratroopers to ensure the safety of the Russian airbase in Kant in Kyrgyzstan. “Following the President’s order, to ensure the safety of the families of Russian servicemen, it’s been decided to send two squadrons of paratroopers (a total of 150 soldiers) to the Kant airbase,” the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces told journalists on Thursday.

Earlier, the official representative of the Russian Air Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Drik has reassured that the Kant airbase is “functioning as normal”. However, he added, because of the situation in the country, it has been decided to increase security of the airbase and the military personnel, and their families have been ordered not to leave the base.

Kyrgyzstan’s opposition leader asks Moscow for help

On Thursday, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with the leader of the provisional Government of National Trust, Roza Otunbaeva. She informed Putin that her government controls the situation in Kyrgyzstan, including the police and the military.

She has also noted that the situation remains complicated and that the country is in need of economic aid.

According to the prime minister’s press attaché, Putin urged the country’s opposition to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of foreign representatives and said Russia is always ready to provide the republic with humanitarian help.

Later, in an interview with Russian radio station “Ekho Moskvy”, Otunbaeva said that her deputy, Almas Atambaev, will soon come to Moscow to discuss in more detail the help that Russia promised to provide.

“Putin asked me how Russia can help and what we need at the moment, and we have agreed that my deputy, former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almas Atambaev, will come to Moscow and we will formulate our needs,” said Otunbaeva.

“After we received the documents from our banks and were able to assess the current economic situation, we understood that the situation in the country is quite worrying and we need help,” she added.

Medvedev and Putin’s comments of the situation in Kyrgyzstan

On Wednesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the unrest in Kyrgyzstan an internal affair, but said that its form testified to the extreme degree of people’s outrage over the authorities’ actions. Medvedev added that at present the priority task was to prevent new casualties and restore the state system.

“Kyrgyzstan has been and will remain Russia’s strategic partner and, thus, we will watch the situation developing in this republic with special attention,” Medvedev’s press secretary quoted the president as saying.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin echoed the President’s words, saying that “whatever is happening is Kyrgyzstan, it's their internal affair, their own business.”

"When [incumbent Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek] Bakiyev came to power, he strongly criticized his predecessor [President Askar] Akayev for nepotism, for the fact that Akayev's relatives or close affiliates of the family were everywhere in the economic and political life of Kyrgyzstan," Putin noted. "I am getting the impression that Mr. Bakiyev is falling into the same pit," he said.

“What I'm calling for is the opposition and the official authorities to refrain from using force. Especially if it concerns the officials, because they control the enforcement bodies,” added the prime minister.

He also stressed that Russia was completely uninvolved with the Kyrgyz events: “Not Russia, nor your humble servant, nor Russian officials have any relation to these events."

Russian clergy urges both sides to stop the violence

Russia’s Patriarch Kirill has also urged both the conflicting sides will think about “horrible consequences of chaos and violence” in Kyrgyzstan and to start a dialogue: “One can’t look at the current events in Kyrgyzstan without heartache. Blood has been shed; dozens of people were killed or injured. A big sorrow has been set upon people in the republic,” the Patriarch said.

He has emphasized that it is important that the country avoid further bloodshed and said that peace should be established in cities and villages.

The Patriarch said that the current situation shows that “existing problems in Kyrgyzstan have reached their apogee and that urgent and wise solutions should be found.”

Russian lawmakers call for peace in Kyrgyzstan

Meanwhile, Russian parliamentary leaders have also called for peace in the country and urged the authorities and opposition in Kyrgyzstan to start discussions and to refrain from using arms. "Unfortunately, the attempts to overthrow the current authorities in Kyrgyzstan by force have happened before, and it’s important to avoid further bloodshed there,” said the speaker of the State Duma, Boris Gryzlov.

Gryzlov stressed the importance of ensuring peace in the country and emphasized that the Kyrgyzstan’s lawmakers may still influence the situation, even though the opposition had declared that the parliament would be dismissed.

Sergey Mironov, the speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, said that he expects that the events in Kyrgyzstan will not affect Russia’s Kant military base there: “Kyrgyzstan's citizens realize the specific status of Russia's military contingent.”

Analyst’s opinion

To comment on the current situation in the country RT asked Asher Pirt, researcher and an expert on Central Asian Affairs, who has served as an OSCE Short Term Observer in the Kyrgyz Elections.

“Any President of this Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan will find it difficult to improve the lives of the population. Indeed, there are numerous social and economic challenges faced by the country. However, this is not to say that the allegations of corruption and the 'unsolved' murders do not need to be investigated. These allegations need to be investigated,” Pirt believes.

Pirt also says that considering the current situation in Kyrgyzstan, he has been expecting such riots, stressing that there are much deeper underlying reasons behind the unrest, other than just the rising price of fuel. “If the opposition do decide to take power, they will need to address this deep-seated resentment held by the country's inhabitants towards the establishment,” he says.

However, he doubts that a change in the leadership will necessarily lead to the change in the lives of ordinary people, noting that the political change in 2005 [when President Askar Akaev was overthrown by the Tulip Revolution and Bakiyev took his place – RT] demonstrated that “a facade democracy was replaced by another facade democracy.”

In addition, Pirt claims that the incumbent president’s legitimacy can be questioned, since numerous irregularities in the 2009 elections were noted by international election observers. However, he thinks it is “unlikely that President Bakyiev will decide to give up power so easily, so we are now awaiting the calm. International society must hope that the opposition becomes sensible and further violence or possible civil war does not ensue.”

Pirt, however says that the current riots could escalate a further unrest and in that case he does not rule out US’s interference in some form. “The Americans have interests in the country especially with the Manas Airport. This Airport is very important in their re-supply of troops in Afghanistan. Will unrest arrive at the American doorstep?” asks the analyst.

Pirt has also noted that in some Internet blogs, some in Russia and the USA are being blamed for organizing the violence. However, he says there is no evidence that proves those allegations.

“On a personal note”, says Pirt, “last year I was in Chisinau during the riots following the April Elections. This political unrest is similar, in the sense that there appears to be numerous thugs enjoying causing damage in the name of democracy. However, in Bishkek, the situation is more serious as the 'protesters' have acquired weapons. Real democrats are not violent revolutionaries and only men of peace live in true democracies. Emails sent to me from Bishkek express the concern of looting and I am sorry that this situation has come about,” he concluded.

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