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Kyrgyzstan Demands Explanation For Lukashenka's 'Appearance' With Wanted Ex-Prime Minister

Belrusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (center) visits the Belarusian Biotechnological Corporation on August 10 with a man (holding the pointer) who looks like Kyrgyzstan's wanted former prime minister, Daniyar Usenov.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry has called on Belarus to explain why President Alyaksandr Lukashenka made a recent public appearance with a man who looks like Kyrgyzstan's wanted former prime minister, Daniyar Usenov.

Usenov, thought to be living in exile in Belarus, has been sought for years by Kyrgyz authorities in connection with the deaths of nearly 100 people in April 2010 when security forces in Bishkek fired live ammunition at anti-government demonstrators.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said on August 11 that a diplomat from the Belarusian Embassy in Bishkek was handed a note of protest and asked "to undertake immediate measures for the expedited detainment and extradition" of Usenov.

Lukashenka appeared next to the man while visiting the Belarusian National Biotechnological Corporation on August 10, the day his reelection to a sixth presidential term was announced by the Central Election Commission in Minsk.

Bishkek demanded similar explanations from Minsk in July 2018 after Belarusian media released a photograph of a man that Kyrgyz authorities say was the wanted former prime minister.

Belarusian state media had identified that man as Daniil Uritski, saying he was the CEO of the Belarusian National Biotechnological Corporation.

Usenov, convicted together with Kyrgyzstan's ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev and 24 other defendants, was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 after a trial in absentia on charges of ordering the deadly April 2010 crackdown.

Usenov, Bakiev and other defendants in the case fled Kyrgyzstan after the government was ousted in 2010.

Bakiev later appeared in Belarus. But Minsk has refused Kyrgyzstan's extradition requests for Bakiev.