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HRW Calls On Kyrgyzstan To Probe Violence

An injured opposition protester is carried away during clashes in Bishkek on April 7.
Human Rights Watch has urged the interim authorities in Kyrgyzstan to open a probe into this month's violence that led to the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

The human rights group said its research found both security forces and demonstrators both to blame for escalating the conflict.

Andrea Berg, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, called the April 6-8 unrest the "most serious incident of political violence in Kyrgyzstan since its independence."

A government crackdown on opposition protests left at least 85 people dead. Bakiev is now in exile in Belarus.

The interim Kyrgyz government is facing lawlessness around the capital, Bishkek, and resistance from Bakiev loyalists in the south.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Defense Ministry to protect ethnic Russians in Kyrgyzstan. Medvedev said Kyrgyzstan faced anarchy.

He issued the order after ethnic Kyrgyz looters attacked ethnic Russian and Meskhetian Turkish villagers on the outskirts of Bishkek on April 19, killing at least five.

It is unclear what measures the Russian military might take, but the country does have a small base in northern Kyrgyzstan with some 500 soldiers.

Earlier, the head of the interim government, Roza Otunbaeva, spoke by phone with the leader of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of former Soviet republics.

compiled from agency reports