Bakiev Reportedly Leaves For Kazakhstan

Bakiev Reportedly Leaves For Kazakhstan(RFE/RL) – Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev has reportedly flown out of the country to neighboring Kazakhstan.

The reports said Bakiev had left to have consultation talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The reports came after Bakiev’s bodyguards fired gunshots into the air to help him escape a crowd of opponents who disrupted his rally in the southern city of Osh earlier in the day. There were no reports of injuries.

The shots were fired when opponents of Bakiev moved towards his rally from a separate rival rally when Bakiev began to speak. After the shots were fired, Bakiev was hustled into a car and driven away from Osh, the country’s second-largest city. 

Bakiev fled to the south after protests against his rule last week erupted into violence, leaving more than 80 people dead.

Bakiev says he might step down if the interim government guarantees his and his family’s security. He also said today that he has turned down an offer of political asylum in Belarus.

A Russian government spokesman said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken on the phone with Bakiev. No details of their conversation late on April 14 were given.

An interim government sympathizer (with back to camera) faces Bakiev supporters in Osh on April 15.

Calm Returned To City

RFE/RL correspondent Bruce Pannier, who is in Osh, says calm has returned to the city hours after the shooting incident in a central part of the town.

He says young men are guarding the local administration building and inspecting people wishing to enter but adds that many residents are just finding out about the shooting incident.

Some lawmakers from Bakiev’s own Bright Path (Ak-Jol) party have joined the ranks of his opponents, calling for the president’s impeachment.

Both Moscow and Washington – both of which have air bases in Kyrgyzstan – have offered assistance in efforts to break the ice with the country’s interim leadership. On April 14, Russia pledged $50 million in aid and loans to Kyrgyzstan. Within hours, visiting Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake had offered help to Kyrgyzstan’s new government.