April 9th, 2010
10:43 AM ET

Kyrgyz president accused of emptying bank accounts

The chief of staff of the interim Kyrgyz government, which took over after President Kurmanbek Bakiev fled the capital, accused the president Friday of stealing the country's money when he left.

"The state coffers are almost empty," Edil Baisalov told CNN. "Some funds have been transferred somewhere, which is why we've frozen the banking system, because we are anxious that the banks controlled by the former President Bakiev might take the funds out of the country."

Baisalov said all that's left in the country's bank accounts is the equivalent of 16 million euros ($21.5 million).

Government officials in Kyrgyzstan had earlier declared Friday and Saturday days of mourning as relatives began burying victims of anti-government riots that killed 76 and forced the president to flee the capital.

At the same time, criminal charges were brought against the two sons of President Bakiev, as well as his brother, who used to be the chief of security, acting Prosecutor-General Baytemir Ibrayev said.

It is believed the president's brother gave orders to open fire on the demonstrators, he said.

Criminal charges have also been brought against the mayor of Bishkek, Ibrayev said. More details about the charges weren't immediately clear.

Overnight, hundreds of men joined vigilante groups to help fight looters here. At least 60 people were injured in the Thursday overnight clashes, none of them seriously, the Health Ministry said.

The latest injuries were in addition to 520 people hospitalized since the protests started Tuesday.

Sporadic bursts of machine-gun fire and police sirens rang out through the night Thursday. It was not immediately clear where the shooting was, but police said looting remained a challenge.

Local health authorities reported Friday that the death toll from the riots had reached 76, after one person in critical condition died.

Bakiev, who fled to his stronghold in the south of the country, said he was not giving up power despite claims by a former foreign minister that she was in charge.

"Realizing my responsibilities as president of the Kyrgyz republic, I am confident the country where the government comes to power through blood can lose its statehood," Bakiev said in a statement posted on 24.kg, a well-known Kyrgyz Web site.

"I am urging the instigators of the riots to think again. I am stating that, as president, I did not abandon my duties, and I am not abandoning my duties. Irresponsible actions of the opposition could only cause more escalation of tensions."

Former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva declared herself the country's interim leader Thursday and said the opposition had taken over the reins of government and driven Bakiev from office. Otunbayeva said at a news conference that the former president was in the south of the country with his entourage.

Opposition leaders had accused Bakiev of consolidating power by keeping key economic and security posts in the hands of relatives or close associates.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent a special envoy to Kyrgyzstan, and he met Friday with interim Deputy Foreign Minister Nurlan Aytmurzaev about ways to restore stability, the OSCE said.

The envoy, Zhanybek Karibzhanov, said he was discussing "the situation on the ground, how public safety, stability and respect for citizens' rights can be urgently restored and ensured, and how we in the OSCE can contribute to the process."

The OSCE and United Nations have expressed concern about the situation in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country on China's far western border.

The protests began Tuesday in the northern city of Talas. They were sparked by increases in electricity and fuel rates, which had gone up at the first of the year as Bakiev's government sold public utilities to companies controlled by his friends.

Demonstrations spread to the capital Wednesday after the government arrested opposition leaders in Talas.

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, houses the Manas Transit Center that forms an important link in the supply line for United States and NATO forces in nearby Afghanistan.

The new government denied reports that it was planning to shut down the air base, but said it intends to review the issue. In Washington, a senior Pentagon official told CNN that the turmoil has interrupted flights into and out of that facility, and it was unclear when those flights would resume. But the U.S. military has contingency plans to deal with the situation, the official said.

The United States has closed its embassy in Bishkek, a senior State Department official said Thursday, and the country is contemplating moving dependents to the Manas base for a few days.

"We have concerns about the situation on the ground," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday.

Crowley said the United States is not taking sides.

"Our interest here is with the people of Kyrgyzstan and a peaceful resolution of the situation," Crowley said.

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Filed under: Kyrgyzstan • World
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. sad

    Almost as sad as these events are is the responses and "insights" provided by the readers here. Everything from "never heard of them, so who cares?" to the essential nature of vowels to make a country legitimate, to some joker who actually thinks the country was made up in order to deflect US attention away from the health debate here. My opinion: if you don't know anything about Kyrgystan is or even IF it exists, keep your opinion to yourself. All you can do by airing your ignorance is deflate the image of Americans as a whole.

    April 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    This stinks like Iran.

    The Kyrgyz border to Afghanistan supplies one of our major air force bases. With this coup, it puts that entire base in jeopardy. Iran might be using our own dirty tricks of proxy war by coup against us.

    It doesn't help that Hamid Karzai is threatening to join the Taliban, and seems to be a heroin addict. We need to get out of Afghanistan.

    April 9, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ulik

    "Our interest here is with the people of Kyrgyzstan and a peaceful resolution of the situation," Crowley said.

    Then why are you supporting corrupt and criminal government of Bakiev. People of Kyrgyzstan paid with their lives to overthrough the criminal family of Bakievs. Obama administration doesn't even have balls to acknowledge that.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kramslamyshamson

    This is the kind of future the tea baggers would like to see for our country. The bullet over the ballot box.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anonymous

    "Our interest here is with the people of Kyrgyzstan and a peaceful resolution of the situation."

    That is so full of BS. The only reason we remotely care is because we don't want to be kicked out of the air base. These people and their plight mean nothing to us and to pretend like they do is just wrong.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Stan

    The question must be asked, why did the American government support a corrupt leader and government for those many years? Is it because of the strategic air force base that is stationed in the country, thus any corrupt government or brutal military dictator can recieve similar support if his country serves the interest of the U.S army. Giving aid to the country seems great in the media but we all know the true purpose of providing such aids.

    I am just about sick of the double standards and hypocrisy that exists in the West, morality has no place when it comes to national interests, and sometimes evil can serve the purpose of a greater good, that is the way the real world works and I hope the American people wake up from their fantasy of moral leadership.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Old Voter

    Wonder if they have ever heard of a wire transfer.

    Naaaaaaaaaaaa, that could never happen in this country.

    April 9, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Thomas

    I dont know what to make of the situation in Kyrgyzstan. I had never even hear of the place until a few days ago. I dont know what type of government they have or had as the case may be. It would be nice if CNN would provide more information.

    April 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Art Vandelay

    So how much did he take? This article fails to mention that.

    April 9, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kerry M. Berger

    Wow, another dictator like Ferdinand Marcos running off with all the country's money. Let's hope he does not find refuge in another country and is forced to stand trial unlike so many former dictators who end up living a life of luxury in exile.

    April 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    @Mike Kyrgyzstan does not border Afghanistan. It is south of Kazakstan, west of China and North East of Uzbekistand and Tajikistan.

    Manas is the Airport and attached is a U.S. Airbase. Since the US accused Uzbekistan of Human Right's Violations, due to a harsh crack down by the Uzbek government against terror groups, it is the only U.S. Airbase in the region.

    Another reason the U.S. supports the Kyrgyz is because Kyrgyzstan used to be the major supplier or Uranium to the Soviet Missle program. Still a lot of mines in the area and the U.S. is afraid of transnational shipments of Uranium to rogue states.

    The people of Kyrgyzstan are amazing. I spend two weeks there in 2008. I do not speak a word of Russian or Kyrgyz but had no problems while i was there, even though the only person that spoke english was our translator and we only had him with us for 8 hours a day.

    And, as a general rule. Do not rely on News Services to supply you with all the information. Hell, sometimes they ar wrong even, especially when reporting on spur of the moment. If you are capabile enough to use the internet to navigate to this site, browse the web for more answers.

    April 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elliott Carlin

    What did he steal, all of the countries vowels?

    April 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adam

    Amid the base of US, Kyrgyz is gonna be the next base of Al Qaeda or Iran. Welcome to furthter news of turmoil due to US forces being there.

    April 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kerry H. Amburger

    Well.. Well .. well, Kerry Berger seems to be an authority on dictators and running off with the money. Haven't you heard, the Great General Electric of America is the one's paying the 3% commission or what you term as Finder's fee in order to get the nuclear plant contract ? This is what we call capitalism. Either you stop referring to Ferdinand Marcos who is long gone, but focus on the current issue. Come to think of it, it takes a thief to know one. Does it mean that you didn't received your cut in the 3-5% finder's fee. It's in your mail already. Check your local post office.

    April 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Anon Soldier

    Thanks to this little situation, I can't get back to the states after my year long deployment to Afghan. Whatever contingency plan is in place sure isn't being put to use...

    April 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |