Kyrgyzstan's government is demanding that Britain extradite the man they say is responsible for stoking the vicious riots in the south of the country that have killed hundreds in recent days. Maxim Bakiyev, son of the country's deposed president, claimed asylum when he landed at Farnborough airport on Monday night.
Mr Bakiyev had an Interpol warrant out for him, and was detained by the UK Border Agency after he landed in a private, rented plane, according to officials in Bishkek. The Home Office declined to comment. His father, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was accused of corruption and nepotism, and was forced to flee the country after violent clashes in Bishkek in April. He is now in Belarus. Maxim's whereabouts had been a mystery.
The interim government took over after the April riots, which resulted in dozens of deaths and President Bakiyev and his family members fleeing the country. It now claims that forces loyal to the Bakiyevs provoked the ethnic violence in order to delegitimise the provisional government.
"It was a carefully planned operation conducted by the enemies of the interim government," said Almazbek Atambayev, the government's first deputy head, in Bishkek yesterday. "Its goal was to overthrow the new authorities of Kyrgyzstan and to thwart the referendum. The information available to our special services confirms that all of these measures were funded by the Bakiyev family, particularly Bakiyev's youngest son, Maxim."
For now, these claims are impossible to verify, but information collected by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, corroborated the theory that the riots had been provoked.
"We have strong indications that this event was not a spontaneous inter-ethnic clash – that it was to some degree orchestrated, targeted and well-planned," said Ms Pillay's spokesman, Rupert Colville, in Geneva yesterday. "Several of these reports suggest that the incident began with five simultaneous attacks in Osh involving men wearing balaclavas and carrying guns. It looked like they were seeking to provoke a reaction."
Violence in Osh spiralled to engulf much of southern Kyrgyzstan, with the primary victims mainly the sizeable ethnic Uzbek population of the region. Officially, 176 people have been killed, though the Red Cross said yesterday the real figure was likely to be "several hundreds", and sources in the country have suggested there could be in excess of 2,000 dead.
The situation in much of the south of the country is still tense, and around 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks are believed to have crossed the border into neighbouring Uzbekistan. However, the border has now been closed.
The interim government has little control in the south, where many ethnic Kyrgyz still support the former president, and calls to Moscow to send in the Russian army to restore order have gone unheeded. The UN has called on the Kyrgyz authorities to set up a humanitarian corridor between Bishkek and the south of the country.
Yesterday Unicef said it had dispatched emergency supplies to refugees near the border in six trucks that left from Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, carrying tents, blankets and sanitation equipment.
It was unclear whether Britain would act on Kyrgyzstan's extradition request. There is no extradition treaty between the countries, although requests can be considered. Roza Otunbayeva, the acting President, said yesterday that there was enough evidence to bring Maxim Bakiyev to trial in Kyrgyzstan. The ousted president denies that he or his family, including his son, are behind the unrest.
The hated heir...
Kurmanbek Bakiyev put several brothers and sons into governmental posts during his reign as Kyrgyzstan President, but none was more powerful, or more hated, than Maxim, above. The 33-year-old was accused of corruption after being put in charge of the country's investment agency.
As riots engulfed Bishkek in April, he was on his way to Washington for a planned investment forum that never took place. He then vanished before surfacing in the UK.Reuse content