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Kyrgyz Interim President Says Putin Supportive

26 March 2005 -- Kyrgyzstan's acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, said today that he has talked by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Putin offered to be helpful.

"I am grateful to the Russian leadership for their sensitivity and attention to our problems and as always they offered us a helpful hand," he said.

Speaking with reporters inside the parliament hall, Bakiev said he plans to call the presidents of neighboring Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Russian news media are reporting that ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has taken refuge in Russia. Putin said yesterday that Akaev would be welcome there. But there has been no official confirmation from either the Russian or Kyrgyz government.

In response to questions, Bakiev said that Akaev is free to return to Kyrgyzstan. "It is his decision," he said.