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Ousted Kyrgyz prez charged with murder
MOSCOW, APR 27 (Agencies):
Published on 27 Apr. 2010 11:53 PM IST
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Kyrgyzstan’s new authorities have charged the country’s former president with mass murder for his role in the deaths of scores of antigovernment protesters earlier this month, an official in the provisional government said Tuesday.
Police and presidential guards opened fire on thousands of demonstrators on April 7, killing at least 85 people. They failed, however, to stop the protesters, who commandeered weapons and an armored personnel carrier and overran the government.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the former president, was forced to flee the country, and is currently in Belarus, where the president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, has guaranteed his security.
The interim government has struggled to return order to Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished Central Asian nation that hosts a United States airbase that serves as a transit hub for troops and equipment for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
The new government has made prosecuting Mr. Bakiyev a priority, and has vowed to seek his extradition from Belarus.
“Charges have been filed against Bakiyev for exceeding his authority and also for the mass murder of peaceful citizens,” Azimbek Beknazarov, the deputy head of the provisional government, said in a press conference in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, Kyrgyz news agencies reported.
Mr. Bakiyev has said his guards opened fire only after protesters started shooting into his office at the government headquarters in Bishkek. Dozens of police officers were also injured in the violence.
The new Kyrgyz government has said it will file charges against other members of Mr. Bakiyev’s government, including some of the former president’s family members.
Russia, which has pledged its support to the new Kyrgyz government, has already extradited Mr. Bakiyev’s former interior minister, who was recovering in Moscow after being severely beaten in the protests earlier this month. On Monday, the provisional government said that the former minister would also face charges in the deaths of the demonstrators.
Officials in Belarus have given no indication that they intend to send Mr. Bakiyev back to Kyrgyzstan. Since arriving in the country last week, Mr. Bakiyev has appeared at news conferences with Mr. Lukashenko, in which he has challenged the authority of the new government in Bishkek and maintained that he remains president despite having announced his resignation in a letter to the new government.
“Nine months ago, the people of Kyrgyzstan elected me president and I swore to serve them,” Mr. Bakiyev said at a news conference over the weekend. “There are no forces that can compel me to take back my oath.”

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