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Kyrgyz Opposition Seeks Closure Of Russian Military Base

Russia's military base in Kant, Kyrgyzstan
Russia's military base in Kant, Kyrgyzstan
BISHKEK -- The People's Revolutionary Democratic Movement (NRDK), which unites several Kyrgyz opposition parties and groups, has called for the closure of a Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev announced earlier this month after a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the U.S. air base at Manas would be shut down.

NRDK leaders on February 16 told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the possible closure of the U.S. air base would give Russia more leverage over Kyrgyzstan.

The opposition leaders said that if the U.S. air base is shut down, the Russian air base in Kant should be closed as well.

The NRDK is also challenging a financial agreement between Kyrgyzstan and Russia, warning that it might lead to Kyrgyzstan losing its economic and political independence.

The agreement, signed by Bakiev and Russian officials in Moscow on February 3, promises a $2 billion loan to Kyrgyzstan, much of which will be spent on building a new Kyrgyz hydroelectric power station, Kambar-Ata-1.

Opposition leaders say that if the agreement is implemented, Russia will take control over Kyrgyzstan's major water and energy resources.