A government formed by opposition in Kyrgyzstan said it has taken full power in the country after two days of unrest that left at least 65 people killed, the opposition-nominated premier said. "[Prime Minister Daniyar] Usenov has signed a letter of resignation. Power is fully in the control of the opposition," Rosa Otunbayeva said. "The whereabouts of [President Kurmanbek] Bakiyev are unknown." Otunbayeva said the opposition in the ex-Soviet Central Asian state is not yet forming a new cabinet but has divided areas of responsibility for ruling the country. Protests, which started in the northwestern Kyrgyz town of Talas on Tuesday, spread to other regions of the country, including the capital Bishkek. Some 500 people were injured, according to health authorities. Opposition leader Omurbek Tekebayev said the death toll was about 100 people.
"Today we went to a meeting with the government so they would lay down their arms and transfer power," Tekebayev, who leads the Ata-Meken opposition party said on national television, which is now controlled by protestors. He added that special volunteer groups would be set up to ensure order in the country. Another Kyrgyz opposition leader claimed on Wednesday that the official government has resigned and that President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has left the capital Bishkek. There has, however been no official confirmation of this. "We went into the government building for talks; [Premier] Usenov wrote a declaration stating the government's resignation," Temir Sariyev told Russian journalists. "Bakiyev left the building. It is not known where he went. He is not in Bishkek."
A source in Bakiyev's entourage denied claims by the opposition that Bakiyev left the country and that premier Usenov has resigned. Kazakhstan has not confirmed media reports that Bakiyev and his family arrived in the country, and a source in the Russian government said Russia was "not expecting" Bakiyev. Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz news agency Kabar reported that Bakiyev is in his southern residence at the Kyrgyz city of Osh. Police estimated that there were several thousand protestors on the streets of the capital. Opposition supporters seized a number of state organizations in Bishkek. The government and opposition leaders held talks, but the Kabar news agency reported that they failed.
"Preliminary consultations between the official authorities and oppositional leaders on halting the clashes have started," Elmurza Satybaldiyev, the state advisor on defense and security told Kyrgyz news agency 24. "We have received several proposals [for talks]. The opposition leaders are now getting together to discuss the possibility of negotiations," Sariyev, the leader of an oppositional party Ak-Shumkar, told journalists. President Bakiyev declared a state of emergency earlier on Wednesday and the Kyrgyz parliament urged citizens to be reasonable and condemned the destructive activities, local media said.
Most of the opposition leaders, detained earlier during protests in Talas have been released, a human rights activist said. Kyrgyz protesters seized the building of the state television channel KTR in Bishkek earlier on Wednesday. Broadcasting was interrupted for approximately one hour, after which opposition representatives and human rights activists appeared on air, giving information about the clashes. State TV employees told RIA Novosti that protestors seized the building, which had been ransacked. They said some staff had escaped but others were trapped inside. Some reports say that protesters have also seized government buildings in the Chuysk, Narynsk and Issyk-Kul regions.
Reaction from Russia, United States, UN
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that the clashes in Kyrgyzstan were an extreme form of public protest and called the Central Asian country Russia's strategic partner, Medvedev's press secretary said. "This is Kyrgyzstan's domestic affair but the form this protest has taken points to an extreme level of public outrage with the authorities," Natalya Timakova quoted him as saying. "The president thinks the most important thing is that further deaths are prevented and control over the country is restored," she added. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called on the Kyrgyz government and opposition to restrain from violence. "No matter what is going on there — it's Kyrgyzstan's domestic affair. The only thing I ask is that the authorities and opposition demonstrate restraint and refrain from violence," Putin said at a news conference.
Putin also denied claims by a number of Kyrgyz opposition leaders that he had expressed support for the protestors. He said Russia has played no role in the events in Kyrgyzstan. "Neither Russia nor your humble servant nor Russian officials have anything to do with these events," he said at a news conference, adding that the events in Kyrgyzstan caught him "off guard." He also said that President Bakiyev had repeated mistakes made by his predecessor, Askar Akayev. "When President Bakiyev came to power [after the so-called tulip revolution in 2005], he harshly criticized the toppled president, Akayev, for nepotism and giving his relatives top economic posts. I get the impression that Bakiyev has fallen into the same trap," Putin said.
Kyrgyzstan, where Russia and the United States both have military bases, has been unstable since Bakiyev took office but major political unrest began in Kyrgyzstan last month when opposition forces accused the government of tightening its grip on power while failing to bring stability and economic growth. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said: "As we are interested in preserving political stability in a country that is friendly to us, we consider it important to resolve the issues raised by the current situation by legal means." He added that Russia urged both sides to avoid violence and bloodshed. A source in Russia's Defense Ministry said the Russian airbase in Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Bishkek, was put on high alert, while the U.S. Department of State said the airbase in Kyrgyzstan's Manas, used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan, continues to function normally.
The United States expressed serious concern over the mass disorders in the country and said it was closely watching the situation. It also called on all sides to refrain from violence and display restraint. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for an end to the violence. Ban visited the country last week as part of a tour of former Soviet Central Asia and called on the authorities to do more to protect human rights and press freedom.
Kyrgyz premier's disappointment
Kyrgyz Premier Usenov said he was disappointed with the way the Russian media has covered the political unrest in the country and officially complained to the Russian ambassador. According to a Russian diplomat in Bishkek, the ambassador rejected the prime minister's complaint. A Russian deputy foreign minister said the Foreign Ministry opposes recent falsifications in the media which try to link the ongoing unrest in Kyrgyzstan with a certain Russian stance. Major political unrest started in Kyrgyzstan last month, with opposition forces accusing the government of tightening its grip on power while failing to bring stability and economic growth.
The situation escalated on Tuesday, when several opposition leaders were arrested after police and activists clashed in Talas, and the unrest spread on Wednesday to the central town of Naryn and Tokmak, 50 kilometers east of Bishkek. At a news conference in Bishkek on Wednesday, Usenov called the protests in Talas, where protesters seized the regional administration building, a crime against the state. "We are not talking about opposition's protest actions but about committing state crimes," the prime minister said, adding that Kyrgyz Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongadiev arrived in Talas on Wednesday morning and additional police forces had been sent to the city. Activists in Naryn said several thousand people rallied in front of the local governmental building.
Adilet Eshenov said the protesters had entered the building and held talks with the governor. He added that the police had not tried to stop the demonstrators. The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry denied the government building in Naryn had been occupied, but confirmed there were protests in the city. "There is no seizure. An unauthorized rally is being held in front of the regional administration building, attended by 1,200-1,300 people. There have been no public order arrests," a spokesperson told RIA Novosti. Witnesses said protesters in Tokmok seized a Chuysk regional governmental building and some police officers had been injured. Almazbek Atambayev, the former prime minister and current leader of the Social Democratic Party, was detained at his home on Tuesday evening. A journalist and a cameraman of the local television company StanTV, who were interviewing the politician when police arrived, were also detained. They were later released, but the camera was seized.