BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz interim government official says Russian authorities have not discussed with the new government the possibility of opening a military base in the southern Osh region, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Interim government Deputy Chairman Azimbek Beknazarov made his comments to RFE/RL in response to a report in the Russian newspaper "Nezavisimaya gazeta" citing an unnamed source on the Russian Army's General Staff saying the Kremlin is planning to establish a new military base in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Russian military expert Vladimir Mukhin told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that the information about Moscow's intention to set up such a base in Osh is accurate. He added that Russia will start negotiations with Kyrgyz authorities on the issue after the country's referendum on a new constitution scheduled for June 27.
But military expert Aleksandr Golts told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that it is unlikely that Russia is planning to establish any kind of new military base in Kyrgyzstan because it would be difficult to maintain troops at such a base.
About one year ago, Russia presented the idea to establish a new military base in southern Kyrgyzstan under the auspices of the Common Security Treaty Organization, which is comprised of several former Soviet republics.
But Uzbek President Islam Karimov expressed opposition to such a plan, saying that a new military base could affect interethnic stability in Kyrgyzstan's south with its mixed population of ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.
In mid-June, ethnic clashes between those two groups
in Osh and Jalal-Abad left at least 250 dead, hundreds wounded, and caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.