Kyrgyzstan's deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, speaks to media during a news conference in Minsk, Belarus. AP photo.
Kyrgyzstan's ousted president said Friday from exile in Belarus that he does not intend to return to his homeland as its leader, but said his resignation was invalid because he signed it under pressure.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed in an April 7 uprising that left 85 people dead in the Kyrgyz capital. He fled last week to neighboring Kazakhstan and arrived in the Belarusian capital earlier this week.
Bakiyev said his resignation, signed before he left Kyrgyzstan, was not in force because interim officials reneged on a promise to protect his relatives. "I don't intend to return to Kyrgyzstan as president," he told reporters in Minsk, but added that "the other side has not fulfilled its conditions. They guaranteed the safety of my family, but my family is being persecuted, therefore I do not recognize my resignation."
While at his stronghold in the south of Kyrgyzstan, where he went during the uprising in Bishkek, Bakiyev said he was warned by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that he would be held personally accountable if he put up military resistance to the provisional authorities. "There was the threat to me and my relatives and a threat of civil war," Bakiyev said. "So I submitted my resignation and left."
Bakiyev said Putin told him in their telephone conversation that he would not be blamed for the bloodshed during the uprising. The United States and Russia helped broker the agreement for Bakiyev's departure from Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a U.S. military base crucial to operations in Afghanistan. Russia, which also has a base in Kyrgyzstan, is irritated at the American military presence in what it sees as its region of influence.
Bakiyev said Moscow fumed when he reversed plans to close the Manas air base last year after Washington offered to almost triple the rent to about $60 million. "I closed it unilaterally," Bakiyev said. "But the Americans offered new terms, and then I agreed to resume" the lease, Bakiyev said. "Although Russia has a similar base, it caused great indignation," he said.
Bakiyev stopped short, however, of accusing Moscow of supporting the revolt. "I can't say that Russian special services had a hand in it. A commission must be formed to investigate," he said.
Asked how long he planned to remain in Minsk, Bakiyev said he had no plans to form a government in exile, but suggested he felt comfortable as the guest of the country's authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Interim officials have set presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan for Oct. 10.