- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Kyrgyzstan’s ousted president was in exile in Belarus on Tuesday, as the interim authorities controlling the Kyrgyz capital warned he would be imprisoned if he tried to return to the Central Asian country.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who fled Kyrgyzstan after a bloody uprising on April 7, had taken refuge last week in neighboring Kazakhstan but then left Monday for a destination not announced.

Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday he had arranged for Mr. Bakiyev to come to the Belarusian capital. His presence, however, could exacerbate Belarus’ tensions with both the West as well as neighboring Russia.

“President Bakiyev and his family are in Minsk under the protection of our state and me personally,” Mr. Lukashenko said in televised remarks to parliament, adding that his guests were undergoing medical checkups.

Mr. Lukashenko also said he had ordered food deliveries to Kyrgyzstan, where widespread poverty contributes to political tensions.

Kyrgyzstan’s interim authorities have warned that Mr. Bakiyev will be imprisoned if he returns to the Central Asian country, after being deposed in an uprising that left 85 people dead when gunfire broke out at a protest rally.

Interim government member Edil Baisalov told Russian agency Interfax that Mr. Bakiyev could only return “in the capacity of a prisoner.” He accused Mr. Bakiyev of being responsible for the April 7 bloodshed in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. The shaky coalition, which is set to run the former Soviet country for six months, is struggling to restore stability. Deadly clashes have broken out between mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Meskhetian Turks in a village on the outskirts of the capital, while Mr. Bakiyev’s supporters in his southern stronghold have managed to maintain control of the region by imposing their own interim governor.

Associated Press Writer Leila Saralayeva in Bishkek contributed to this report.

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