Saturday 24 February 2018

Kyrgyzstan chaos as 75 killed in new riots

Tony Halpin in Kyrgyzstan

Clashes between riot police and protesters left 75 people dead and 400 wounded in the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek yesterday, a day after the overthrow of president Bakiyev's government.

The capital appeared only loosely under the control of opposition leaders, who declared a provisional government yesterday after Mr Bakiyev fled to the south of the country.

Tense crowds filled the square in front of the shattered presidential administration, the scene of the most intense fighting, as looters stripped anything that was left from the burnt remains of the prosecutor-general's office.

Outside the government building, known as the White House, crowds cheered looters who scattered bundles of official documents through shattered windows.

The prime minister's palatial suite of sixth-floor offices had been destroyed and looters took it in turns to photograph one another in the ruins of the building

Begaliyev Altynbek, a 30-year-old company director, said: "This looks like savagery from a Western point of view but they are only destroying things connected to the president and his family because the people really hated him. Everybody is happy that he has gone.

"We have made mistakes twice already with our leaders and been forced to correct them. I just hope that we won't have to do it a third time."

Mr Bakiyev was swept to power by the 2005 Tulip Revolution that ousted his autocratic predecessor, Askar Akayev.

A former ally in that uprising, Roza Otunbayeva, declared herself head of an opposition government that accused Mr Bakiyev of repression, corruption and nepotism.


Ms Otunbayeva, (59), a former foreign minister, dissolved parliament and said that the provisional government would hold power for six months before calling new presidential and parliamentary elections under a revised constitution.

In an attempt to restore order the interim interior minister ordered looters to be shot on sight.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, threw his weight behind the new government, telephoning Ms Otunbayeva yesterday to offer humanitarian aid.

Russian president Medvedev said that the uprising "showed ordinary people's extreme outrage at the existing regime". (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent

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