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Saturday, 12 June 2010

MY INTERVIEW on 'RUSSIA TODAY' TV CHANNEL: Violent clashes in Kyrgyzstan

Beautiful Kyrgyzstan! Surely one of my favourite countries - not only for the scenery (see the photos of my 2007 blog post, and my 2009 blog post), but for the character and spirit of many of the people I met there during my 2007 and 2009 visits. Following Kyrgyzstan's 7th April 2010 'revolt' that saw President Bakiev flee the country to Belarus, the Interim Government set itself a 6-month timetable to complete the transition to a new national settlement. This includes elections to be held in October for a new Parliament and President. First, though, a Referendum on June 20th, to establish the conditions for the October elections.

The OSCE recently set up a ROM (Referendum Observation Mission) that coincided with my 6-week visit to Georgia for the Local Government Elections (as OSCE election observer), so I couldn't go to Kyrgyzstan this time around. However, in mid-April, I was interviewed on the TV channel 'Russia Today' about the post-revolt situation. Today, I've been interviewed again, and this time I've got a link to the interview...

Here's the accompanying 'Russia Today' web site article:

Dozens killed and injured after violent clashes in turbulent Kyrgyzstan

Published 11 June, 2010, 19:30

Edited 11 June, 2010, 23:45

An outbreak of violence in the Southern Kyrgyz city of Osh has resulted in 46 dead and hundreds injured.

Out of more than 600 who have asked for medical assistance, approximately 50 are in a grave condition.

The country’s authorities have dispatched troops to the troubled area in an effort to bring the situation under control.

Violence broke out late Thursday evening when clashes erupted between Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths and quickly spread across the whole city.

Ravaging mobs have been looting and setting buildings on fire.

Read more

A curfew and a state of emergency were quickly imposed in Osh. Armored vehicles and security forces were sent in to patrol the streets.

The troops have been given permission to bear arms against the participants of the riots in case their actions endanger the lives of civilians.

However, Itar-Tass news agency reports that, according to witnesses, those measures have failed to stabilize the situation fully.

In addition, even though security forces have the center of the city under control, gunfire is still being heard in other parts of Osh.

In a statement on a local TV channel, the mayor of Osh urged residents to remain calm. The city’s gas supply had been cut off to prevent possible fires and explosions.

International human rights lawyer and former OSCE observer in Kyrgyzstan Andrew McEntee remembers that, back in 1990, several hundred died as a result of Kyrgyz-Uzbek tension.

“Today the situation clearly is different. For some people it's an opportunity for transition, while for others it's an opportunity for frustrating the transition. There is no doubt that political actors and security services actors at local and international level are pulling the strings behind the scene trying to steer this violence as a tool for their own opportunities,” McEntee told RT.

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