Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whose administration collapsed April 7 amid rioting in Bishkek, left Kyrgyzstan for neighboring Kazakhstan on April 15, a source at the Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry told EurasiaNet.org. Before departing, Bakiyev formally resigned the presidency, provisional government representatives say.
A statement released late on April 15 by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, says the leaders of Kazakhstan, Russia and the United States helped negotiate Bakiyev's departure. The Kyrgyz provisional government led by Roza Otunbayeva agreed to the plan.
Since his administration's downfall, Bakiyev had been in southern Kyrgyzstan, his native region. From there, he leveled criticism against the provisional government in Bishkek, and warned of bloodshed if the country's new leaders attempted to arrest him. His continued presence in Kyrgyzstan was fueling instability in the South, experts say. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
"This development is an important step towards the stabilization of the situation, a return to a framework providing for the rule of law, and the prevention of a civil war in Kyrgyzstan," said the OSCE statement. Bakiyev's initial destination was Taraz, a Kazakhstani city formerly known as Zhambyl that is located just north of the Kyrgyz-Kazakhstani border, roughly 150 miles west of Bishkek.
Bakiyev's final public appearance, at a rally in Osh, featured a chaotic scene in which his defenders clashed with supporters of the provisional government, leading to gunfire. [See accompanying photos]. He departed the country from Jalal-abad airport several hours later.
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, there were unconfirmed reports that Bakiyev's stay in Kazakhstan would be brief and that he would head on to either Turkey or Latvia. A late report distributed by the Kyrgyz news agency AKIpress said Bakiyev was already on his way to Turkey.
By exiting hastily, Bakiyev appeared to leave many family members, friends and supporters to fend for themselves. The provisional government, in a statement on the former president's departure, hinted that those who committed misdeeds during Bakiyev's five-year tenure in power would be held accountable for their actions. The apparent thirst for retribution alarmed some civil society activists in the country.
"None of Bakiyev's allies and relatives who were with him up until recently were let out of the country, and those who committed crimes will be taken into custody and will stand trial," the statement said.
Shortly after word of Bakiyev's departure began to spread, provisional authorities announced the arrest of former defense minister Baktybek Kalyev. Local reports said Kalyev is being accused of issuing orders to security troops to fire on protesters during the April 7 upheaval in Bishkek. In addition, provisional leaders were reportedly intent on arresting the former president's brother and head of the state security services, Janysh Bakiyev.
According to an AKIpress report, Kalyev was arrested at Jalal-abad's airport shortly after the plane carrying Bakiyev to Kazakhstan took off. The report did not indicate whether Kalyev attempted to get on the departing plane.