Russian forces have detained and expelled a former Kyrgyz minister who vanished during the unrest that swept Kyrgyzstan's former authorities from power earlier this month.
The deputy head of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, Almazbek Atambaev, confirmed that former Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongantiev is in Kyrgyz police custody.
Kongantiev had not been seen since he was reportedly beaten during the early April protests that led to the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev.
Russian media reports said he had been arrested in Moscow on April 25. There were few details about the operation to detain him.
Atambaev said he did not know how Kongantiev had managed to flee to Moscow but thanked Russian authorities for their assistance in detaining him.
Several hundred Kongantiev supporters today blocked the main highway connecting the capital Bishkek with the southern city of Osh demanding his release. A group of supporters rallied for his release outside parliament in Bishkek.
Meanwhile, dozens of picketers in Bishkek demanded an investigation be launched against Kongantiev.
Kongantiev, 52, was appointed interior minister in January 2008 by then-President Bakiev. He was reportedly severely beaten by antigovernment protesters in the northwestern city of Talas on April 6 after he had gone there to quash clashes between police and demonstrators.
The clashes led to mass demonstrations in the capital, Bishkek, the following day that forced Bakiev to flee the capital and later resign his post.
Kongantiev was hospitalized but then disappeared.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan's interim government sacked the chairman of the country's border guards, Askarbek Japarov, his deputy Kubanychbek Sadybaev, and several Interior Ministry officials in the Osh Oblast for allowing Kongantiev to leave the southern town of Jalal-Abad and escape to Moscow.
compiled from RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service and agency reports