Russia on Saturday refused to send its forces to Kyrgyzstan as its government begged Moscow to help control widespread ethnic violence in southern city of Osh which has left more than 60 people dead and over 800 wounded.
Kremlin said there was no ground for its involvement in the internal conflict.
“This is an internal conflict and so far Russia does not see any ground for its involvement in resolving it,” Kremlin spokesperson Natalia Timakova was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency on Saturday.
As the country’s second major city Osh slid into chaos with gun-toting Kyrgyz gangs attacking the Uzbeks, the interim President Rosa Otunbayeva wrote a letter to President Dmitry Medvedev to airlift troops to control the rampaging mobs.
Earlier, there was growing speculation that Russian forces could respond after the besieged nation’s President sent an SOS to dispatch troops to control the ethnic violence between the Kyrgyz and the minority Uzbeks through some of the major regions in the country’s south.
Ms. Timakova said Mr. Medvedev, as the rotating president of the CSTO collective security pact of CIS nations, has called for national security councils-level consultations on Monday to explore possibility of sending a joint force to Kyrgyzstan, a member of the post-Soviet military bloc.
The Kremlin spokesperson said President Medvedev, who is fully aware of the developments, has already consulted with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the rotating president of Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha.
The Defence Ministry in Moscow earlier ruled out the re-deployment of Russian troops based at the Manas airbase near capital Bishkek, saying “they have other duties to perform”.
According Ms. Timakova, Mr. Medvedev has ordered the Health Minister Tatiana Golikova and Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to render immediate humanitarian assistance and a Russian Il-76 airliner was being sent to evacuate seriously injured Kyrgyz nationals to Russia for treatment.
Last night, Ms. Otunbayeva spoke to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and sought Russian intervention, conceding inability to control the situation in the south of the country.
The official death toll given out by the health ministry said 63 people had been killed so far and 838 were wounded. They said hospitals were overflowing with casualties.
“We need the deployment of military contingents from other countries. We have asked Russia for this. I have written a letter to this effect to President Dmitry Medvedev,” interim Kyrgyz head Ms. Otunbayeva was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.
“We are ready to start negotiations with Russia any moment for receiving its peacekeeping contingent in Osh,” Ms. Otunbayeva had said.
Russia has a pact with its erstwhile republics which can be invoked to send Russian forces into the countries.
Local media reports said that any CSTO decision would have to be cleared by Belarus, which has given refuge to deposed Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is being accused by the interim government of orchestrating the anti-Uzbek violence in his southern stronghold.
Meanwhile, the interim government has declared a state of emergency and clamped curfew in another city of Jalalabad, which has 50 per cent Uzbek population.
Osh was reported to be black with smoke as Kyrgyz men, armed with guns and iron rods attacked houses and businesses of Uzbeks, triggering an exodus by the minority community towards Uzbekistan.
The interim government sent troops and armour into the bloodied city, which is the stronghold of ousted president Bakiyev, but they failed to stop the violence. Air Force helicopters were hovering over the city where violence continued for the second day.
“The situation in Osh has spun out of control,” Ms. Otunbayeva said in her communication to Mr. Medvedev, as the three major powers U.S., China and Russia appealed for restoration of calm.
Both Moscow and Washington have military bases in the former Soviet republic, located just outside capital Bishkek.
“Attempts to establish law and order and start a dialogue have failed and fighting and rampaging is continuing with impunity. We need outside forces to quell the confrontation,” the interim President said.
She also said that there was acute shortage of food and medicines in the embattled southern Kyrgyzstan after almost all the stores had been looted and torched.