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Regional States React To Kyrgyz Violence

Kyrgyzstan's neighbors have followed events closely, but largely kept their distance.
(RFE/RL) -- Most regional states are watching events in Kyrgyzstan. But few are saying much.

Neighboring Uzbekistan has yet to make any official statement on the unrest in Kyrgyzstan, where an opposition coalition has claimed to have taken power following unrest that left at least 75 people dead.

But Tashkent has closed its border with Kyrgyzstan and limited its own media coverage of the unrest there.

About 15 percent of Kyrgyzstan's population is ethnic Uzbek, raising the danger of a spillover of events from next door. Even before the current unrest, the Uzbek border had been partially closed, with limits on the number of Kyrgyz citizens admitted.

Kazakhstan, too, has closed its border with Kyrgyzstan, but less tightly. It is barring vehicles from entering unless they are driven by returning Kazakh citizens.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov said his country hoped the situation in Kyrgyzstan would normalize by peaceful means soon. He also promised humanitarian aid to help victims of the fighting.

Kyrgyzstan's two other neighbors, China and Tajikistan, have expressed sympathy but nothing more.

China has said that as a "friendly neighbor" it hopes "order can be restored as soon as possible and relevant issues can be resolved through legal channels." Tajikistan has called the crisis Kyrgyzstan's "internal affair."

Farther afield, Turkmenistan has made no official reaction and is offering its citizens no media coverage of events.

'Will Of The People'

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, reaction has been more vocal.

"We regret the instability, disturbances, and violence in Kyrgyzstan," Ali Ahmadov, executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party, told journalists on April 8.

"The same incidents occurred there five years ago and show that a government that is not based upon and formed according to the people's will does not exist long."

Belarus has officially expressed concern over the events in Kyrgyzstan and called on all sides to solve issues without bloodshed. And Ukraine has warned its citizens to refrain from travelling there.

In Georgia, one leading legislator told journalists that the events in Kyrgyzstan underline what happens when governments do not engage in dialogue with their opponents.

"Any confrontation and bloodshed is unacceptable. The most important thing now is to put an end to that and to solve all issues through negotiations," Deputy parliament speaker Mikheil Machavariani said.

"The authorities should have sought a dialogue with the opposition. Let me remind you that all this began with social issues and only afterwards transformed into a political problem -- after the leaders of the opposition were arrested."

Russian Assurances

So far, only Moscow has taken direct action to support one or another of the sides in the Kyrgyz crisis.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone on April 8 with Roza Otunbaeva, becoming the first known foreign leader to call her once she claimed to be in charge.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin told Otunbaeva that Moscow was ready to offer humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan.

Russia has also dispatched two battalions of paratroopers to its Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan. The soldiers have reportedly been sent to assure the safety of Russian citizens stationed at the base.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani and Georgian services contributed to this report