Kyrgyz officials blame son of deposed president

It was a chilling insight into the
planning of a massacre which came, allegedly, from the lips of the man accused
of this week’s bloodshed in Kyrgyzstan.

Thousands of ordinary Kyrgyz believe
they know the identity of the voice they have heard in a recorded telephone
conversation talking about recruiting “500 bastards”: Maxim Bakiyev, 33, the
“princeling” son and heir apparent of deposed former president Kurmanbek
Bakiyev, 60.

Many of his father’s former
subjects are convinced that the younger Bakiyev was recruiting in preparation
for an outbreak of ethnic bloodshed that has brought the Central Asian nation
to the brink of civil war.

The interim government in Bishkek
believes up to 2,000 may have died in the last week. The United Nations
yesterday launched an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid for an estimated
400,000 refugees, most of whom are huddled in desperate conditions along the
border with neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Mr Bakiyev, who has claimed asylum
in Britain, insists that he had nothing to do with the violence.

As part of his claim for asylum he
told officials from the UK Border Agency that he was horrified by the bloodshed
in his homeland and had been made the scapegoat.

He arrived unexpectedly from Latvia
by private jet on Sunday night at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, the
favoured British entry point for sheikhs and the super-rich. His father took
refuge in Belarus several weeks ago.

One of the two deputy heads of the
Kyrgyz government in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, told The Sunday
Telegraph that they believe Mr Bakiyev fled to Britain because it has no
extradition treaty with Kyrgyzstan.

As well as blaming him for this
week’s bloodshed the Kyrgyz government accused Mr Bakiyev of corruption. It is
understood to be seeking his extradition from Britain to face corruption
charges in his homeland. He is wanted there in connection with suspected
corrupt business practices related to fuel supply contracts he handled for a
United States airbase in his home country.

Last month Interpol circulated an
arrest warrant for Mr Bakiyev from the Pervogmay district court of Bishkek City
for fraud.

The new government, which took
power when Mr Bakiyev’s father was deposed in April after a bloody uprising,
has claimed that the Bakiyevs hired thugs to start last week’s campaign of
slaughter in the hope of regaining power in the ensuing chaos.

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of
State, yesterday said Kurmanbek Bakiyev may be to blame.

“Certainly, the ouster of President
Bakiyev some months ago left behind those who were still his loyalists and very
much against the provisional government.”

Maxim Bakiyev has long been
unpopular in the capital, Bishkek, where he had the reputation of being a
spoilt rich-kid ‘princeling’.

The government’s claims that the
Bakiyevs were responsible have been bolstered in the eyes of many of its people
by the audio recording, whic is easily found on the internet.

In the barely audible conversation,
a man said to be Mr Bakiyev is heard discussing with a male relative what
appears to be a plan to foment chaos.

The 40-minute, foul-mouthed
conversation was allegedly recorded in May, apparently without the knowledge of
those speaking.

In one translation the man said to
be Mr Bakiyev says: “We need to find 500 bastards”.

Not long afterwards massacres began
in the south of the country, in the Bakiyev family heartland, when mobs of
ethnic Kyrgyz wearing balaclavas and wielding weapons turned on their Uzbek
neighbours in an orgy of rape, looting and murder.

Kyrgz officials and eyewitnesses
have said that they believe the violence was not spontaneous but had been
pre-planned, exploiting existing ethnic tensions.

In a statement released by his
lawyers in London, Mr Bakiyev said: “I have been forced into exile in fear for
my life.

“The interim government in
Kyrgyzstan accuses me of new crimes every day. The charges are bogus, to divert
attention from their own crimes.

“They accuse me before there has
been any opportunity for an investigation. Clearly they seek to try to make me
a scapegoat for the chaos in the country.

“I view events in my homeland with
horror and pray for an end to the violence.”

Omurbek Tekebayev, deputy head of
state in Bishkek, had a very different version of events, telling The Sunday
Telegraph that Mr Bakiyev had fled to Britain after starting this week’s
violence.

“Everybody is convinced that the
main organisers of the inter-ethnic conflicts on the South are the members of
Bakiyev family,” he said.

“According to our data, this is how
it was planned: first of all, there would be inter-ethnic conflicts where the
interim government was supposed to lose control over half of the country; then
the unrest would have spread to the North of the country; clashes and massacres
were to take place in Bishkek.

“During these events there would
have been seizures of state buildings, and assassinations of interim government
members.”

Mr Tekebayev said Mr Bakiyev flew
to England only when he realised the interim government would survive.

“Their plans failed. We consider
the escape of Maxim Bakiyev to England as evidence of their failure. He was
hiding in Latvia, but having arrived in England he surrendered to the
authorities of the UK.”

Mr Tekebayev said that he fears
that getting Britain to hand Mr Bakiyev over may prove difficult.

“He’s confident that Great Britain
will not extradite him to Kyrgyz authorities. Great Britain rarely extradites
people in such cases.

“There’s no extradition treaty
between Great Britain and Kyrgyzstan. Many of his business partners live in the
UK, Boris Berezovsky in particular.”