Russia denies ousted Kyrgyz president's claim to power

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference Thursday that oral claim from ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev cannot replace written resignation, news agencies reported.

"All I know is that Kurmanbek Saliyevich Bakiyev faxed his resignation statement to Bishkek. Oral statements can hardly invalidate that document," said Lavrov.

Bakiyev, now in Belarus, on Wednesday denied his resignation and urged the international community not to recognize the interim government formed after riots broke out across the country in early April.

The deposed president expressed readiness to answer all questions from reporters by calling a news conference Friday at Minsk. He said previous news coverage on the events in Kyrgyzstan was biased.

Bakiyev fled the Kyrgyz capital on April 7 after thousands of protesters supportive of the opposition clashed with security forces across the country, driving out local governments and seizing government headquarters in Bishkek.

Instructed by President Dmitry Medvedev, Lavrov spoke with Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbayeva late Wednesday via telephone, said Russian presidential spokeswoman Natalya Timakova.

During their conversation Lavrov discussed how to bring the impoverished Central Asian state back onto a legal track of development and ways to protect Russian citizens in that country, said the spokeswoman on Thursday.

Medvedev on Wednesday ordered Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to ensure the personal and property safety of Russian nationals in Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, an influential Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Thursday that Russia apparently did not acknowledge Bakiyev's appeal and is watching closely who would possibly become his successors.

"We are waiting for the new team to take shape in Kyrgyzstan to implement major projects jointly with it," said a source in the Kremlin.

"Of course, it is not all the same to us who will sit on the Kyrgyz government; we are monitoring the developments, but it will be the people who will ultimately make the choice."

Analysts viewed Russia's stance as an important factor for the parliamentary elections, slated for Oct. 10.

"The Russian factor will be one of the crucial elements," said Andrei Grozin, head of the Central Asian sector at the Moscow Institute of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


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