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Belarus Reacts Harshly To Atambaev's Statement On Bakiev

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev

The Belarusian foreign ministry has reacted harshly to comments by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev regarding his predecessor Kurmanbek Bakiev and his relatives.

In a statement on February 27, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said "such overheated emotional statements are impossible at the level of a civilized country's leader."

On February 26, Atambaev issued a statement, strongly urging Belarusian authorities to extradite Bakiev and his brother Janysh, calling his predecessor's family "monsters" and "cannibalistic" killers and saying that Belarus has "given shelter to villains."

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said on February 26 that a witness in the killing of Kyrgyz crime boss Almambet Anapiyaev, who was found dead in Minsk with a forged Russian passport last week, had told Kyrgyz investigators that Anapiyaev met with Janysh Bakiev on the day he died.

Atambaev's statement said: "Who else do the Bakievs have to kill before Belarusian authorities will at last see the bestial and cannibalistic nature of this criminal family? Those monsters will shed blood anywhere where they are, including Belarus that provided a shelter to them."

In response, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry's statement said that "the constitution and laws in any modern country guarantee that nobody can be called guilty of any crime until his/her guilt is proven by a court's verdict after it comes into force. However, taking into account a series of trials in absentia that were held in Kyrgyzstan, one can say that this country has its own specific approach to justice."

Kurmanbek and Janysh were sentenced to life in prison in absentia after being convicted of involvement in the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted Kurmanbek Bakiev in 2010. Janysh headed the state bodyguards' service at the time.

According to the statement by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, authorities in Belarus "are thoroughly carrying out their duties and undertaking all necessary measures to identify and detain individuals involved in the murder of an alleged Kyrgyz citizen and any interference into Belarusian investigators' work, including ones by top officials of foreign states is absolutely unacceptable."

The statement comes the same day dozens of protesters rallied outside the Belarusian Embassy in Bishkek, demanding the extradition of the Bakiev brothers.

Protesters at the February 27 demonstration held placards reading: "The Bakievs Are Murderers" and "Belarus, Do Not Give Shelter to Criminals!"

Embassy personnel would not come out so the group handed a petition demanding the Bakievs' extradition to the embassy security service.

The Bakievs fled Kyrgyzstan in April 2010 following mass antigovernment demonstrations in Bishkek .

The Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office has repeatedly requested Bakiev's extradition since then, but Belarusian authorities have refused to take action.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service
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