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Kyrgyz Say They've Requested Bakiev's Extradition

Ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev at a press conference in Minsk on April 23

Ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev at a press conference in Minsk on April 23

Officials of Kyrgyzstan's interim government say they have formally requested the extradition from Belarus of deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiev, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Bakiev arrived in Minsk about two weeks after unrest and a deadly crackdown on antigovernment protests on April 7 prompted him to flee the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

Bakiev critics who declared themselves in charge have repeatedly argued that the ex-president and senior aides and relatives suspected of wrongdoing should stand trial.

"The president of Belarus has decided to accept Kurmanbek Bakiev. That is [Alyaksandr Lukashenka's] personal decision," the head of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, Roza Otunbaeva, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service. "We, the Kyrgyz interim government, opened four criminal cases against Bakiev; these are very serious charges. This can give us the basis for Bakiev's extradition to Kyrgyzstan. Whether it is in terms of CIS cooperation, or according to international law, Belarus must give Bakiev back to us."

Bakiev initially fled to neighboring Kazakhstan after an arrangement was reached purportedly with the participation of Russian, U.S., and Kazakh officials.

Kyrgyz interim leaders brandished a hand-written resignation letter that they said put an end to Bakiev's presidency.

But Bakiev appeared at a press conference in the Belarus capital, Minsk, on April 21 claiming he was still the country's legitimate leader.

He also expressed a willingness "to bear legal responsibility" but it was unclear if he was referring to the violence that left more than 80 protesters dead.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government has announced that authorities will hold elections in October, after a referendum aimed at reducing the powers of the president.