Russia has signalled support for the interim coalition government formed in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday night in the wake of two days of large-scale riots that left 75 people dead.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised help and support to interim government head Roza Otunbayeva in a phone call on Thursday.
“Based on a special nature of relations between our two countries, Russia has always extended and is ready to extend again the necessary humanitarian assistance [to Kyrgyzstan],” said Mr. Putin, according to his press secretary.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the dispatch of 150 paratroopers to Kyrgyzstan to provide enhanced security to the Russian airbase at Kant, situated 30 km away from a U.S. airbase at the Manas international airport.
Ms. Otunbayeva told a press conference in the capital Bishkek that the interim government was in control of the situation in the country and had the support of the Army, border guards and police. She urged the ousted President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, to resign. Mr. Bakiyev fled Bishkek on Wednesday and, according to Ms. Otunbayeva, could be organising resistance in the south, his stronghold. She confirmed that Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov had resigned on Wednesday.
The interim government will rule for six months until a new constitution is written and elections are held, said Ms. Otunbayeva.
The Health Ministry said 75 people had been killed and over 400 wounded in clashes between protesters and police across the country. Protests began on Tuesday in the northwest city of Talas over increased prices of fuel and electricity and quickly spread to the capital and other cities.
Eyewitnesses said most shops and offices in Bishkek had been looted and vandalised over the night. Mr. Bakiyev's house was also looted and set on fire, along with the houses of his relatives.
Russian media played up the fact that marauding mobs had broken into the Kyrgyz state art museum and stolen canvasses of some iconic Russian painters, including Vrubel, Levitan and Falk.
In their early comments Russia's leaders did not hide their irritation with the ousted Kyrgyz President. “This protest reflects an extreme level of public outrage with the authorities,” President Dmitry Medvedev was quoted by his press secretary.
“Kyrgyzstan has been and remains Russia's strategic partner so we will closely follow the developments in the republic,” he said.
Mr. Putin said earlier that Mr. Bakiyev had repeated mistakes made by his predecessor, Askar Akayev.
“When President Bakiyev came to power [in the ‘tulip revolution' in 2005], he harshly criticised the toppled President, Askar Akayev, for nepotism and giving his relatives top economic posts. I get the impression that Bakiyev has got caught in the same trap,” said Mr. Putin.
Mr. Akayev, who lives in Moscow, ruled out that Kyrgyzstan could slide into a civil war and said the situation should stabilise in a few days.