News / Asia

Kyrgyzstan Accuses Former President's Son of Financing Violence

Security officials in Kyrgyzstan claim the son of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev offered to pay $30 million to militant groups, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to spark violence and destabilize Kyrgyzstan.

Lawyers for Maxim Bakiyev say he is innocent.

The allegations against the Bakiyev family have not been independently confirmed, but they do raise the question of how to investigate the recent violence.  The former president was ousted from power in a violent uprising in April, and is living in Belarus.  The new interim government has previously accused him and his family of instigating the recent inter-ethnic fighting that killed more than 2,000 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks.

Kyrgyzstan has launched its own criminal investigation, and there are reports that Uzbek authorities have done the same. But analysts question whether the two countries can conduct these probes in a balanced manner.

Sergei Arutyunov, an anthropologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences says such investigations must be handled by international organizations. As examples, he cites the investigation of war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and says the Kyrgyz conflict also involved genocide and international crime.

Russia has remained largely detached from the conflict in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic, despite earlier calls from the country's interim government for Moscow to send peacekeepers.

Russia is wise to stay out of the conflict, said Arutyunov.  If they come to assist the Kyrgyz, he said, Uzbekistan will complain; if they assist the Uzbeks, then Kyrgyzstan will complain.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of refugees who fled the ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan are returning home in droves, as violence subsides.  Camps in neigboring Uzbekistan are emptying out, according to Joe Lowry from the Red Cross, Red Crescent Federation.

Lowry said, in the past few days, the population of a camp in Uzbekistan 20 kilometers from the southern Kyrgyz city, Osh, has dwindled from 3,000 to about 580.

"It seems the natural instinct is to want to go home to where you're from and to see if your property is intact and to see how your family are... and so on," said Lowry. "And also, some areas are very quiet and didn't see much violence."

Lowry said refugees have gotten adequate supplies, food and medical care.  Aid workers now are looking ahead, trying to address long-term needs.

"There are also questions about the families being separated.  Mainly, its 90 percent women and children here.  There are very very few young men.  So there are also questions about what will happen to children long-term," said Lowry.

Some 400,000 people, mainly ethnic Uzbeks, fled violence that broke out in southern Kyrgyzstan, earlier this month.  About 80,000 of them crossed the border into Uzbekistan.

U.S. officials have called for an independent probe into the causes of the violence.  Kyrgyz officials say they have begun criminal investigations.

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