Report: Bakiyev flees Kyrgyzstan

April 15, 2010 at 7:49 PM
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BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, April 15 (UPI) -- Ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled the country Thursday with his brother and his former defense chief, sources in the interim government said.

Bakiyev, his brother Zhanybek and former Defense Minister Bakytbek Kalyev boarded a jet that departed the southern city of Jalal-Abad for an undisclosed location Thursday afternoon, interim government sources told ITAR-Tass.

Bakiyev fled the capital, Bishkek, to Jalal-Abad, his home village in the south, after a deadly uprising last week. He has been conducting rallies in towns in the area, The New York Times reported.

He was in Osh to hold a rally earlier Thursday but found a gathering of interim government supporters was under way, witnesses said. When Bakiyev tried to speak, some of the interim government supporters rushed him, prompting his security guards to fire into the air, human-rights activist Aziza Abdirasulova told the Times by telephone.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration signaled its support for the new Kyrgyz leadership, as Robert Blake, a senior U.S. diplomat, met with the new leadership in Kyrgyzstan, the Times said.

In his meeting with interim leader Roza Otunbayeva, Blake said he traveled to the Central Asian country to "express support for the steps the provisional government has taken to restore democracy" and to offer U.S. aid.

Blake also paid respects at a makeshift memorial in Bishkek, where 84 protesters were shot and killed while storming the presidential building a week ago.

Bakiyev has offered to resign in exchange for a guarantee of safety for him and family members, but Otunbayeva so far has refused, saying Bakiyev must either stand trial or go into exile alone.

Otunbayeva said Wednesday she would consider direct talks with Bakiyev, who had been negotiating through international organizations, the Times said. She said she would not discuss the situation with his family members.

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