Russian forces aid extradition of ex-Kyrgyz minister

Russian security forces have detained the ousted Kyrgyz government`s top police official and sent him overnight to Bishkek, officials in Kyrgyzstan`s interim government said on Monday.

Updated: Apr 26, 2010, 15:13 PM IST

Bishkek: Russian security forces have detained the ousted Kyrgyz government`s top police official and sent him overnight to Bishkek, officials in Kyrgyzstan`s interim government said on Monday.

The extradition signals strong Russian support for the new administration that came to power in Bishkek after an uprising on April 07. Ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has said Moscow may have played a role in his overthrow.

Former Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongantiyev -- who had been beaten during protests on April 08 and forced to shout `Down with Bakiyev!` -- was detained on Sunday in Russia and sent to Bishkek, a spokesman for Kyrgyzstan`s National Security Service said. "We have him in a pre-trial detention centre," he said.

Officials did not say where Kongantiyev had been detained but Russian media said he had been found in Moscow.

The interim government`s chief of staff, Edil Baisalov, confirmed Kongantiyev had been detained by Russian security forces and sent overnight by plane to Bishkek.

He said Kongantiyev was under arrest and was being investigated for his role in the deadly upheaval earlier this month, among other things.

During the night of April 07-08, troops loyal to Bakiyev shot into crowds of protesters, some of whom were armed and fought back. At last 85 people were killed.

The unrest disrupted flights through a US air base that supports operations in Afghanistan and adds to the strategic significance of the impoverished ex-Soviet state.

Kyrgyzstan`s new rulers have struggled to stamp their authority on the predominantly Muslim nation of 5.3 million as rival clans and ethnic groups vie for influence.

Russia`s extradition of the former top official contrasts with neighbouring Belarus, which took in Bakiyev last week and has criticised other ex-Soviet states` responses to the Kyrgyz crisis. The Kremlin made clear that Bakiyev, who fled Kyrgyzstan days after his overthrow, was not welcome in Russia.

Russia has offered Kyrgyzstan financial aid, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin expressed support for the interim government as he met its leader, Rosa Otunbayeva, in Bishkek on Monday. "Russia is ready to help," Karasin said.

The United States, eager to keep its lease on the Manas air base and maintain influence in central Asia, has also offered support for the interim government, which is planning to hold elections in October.

Bureau Report