Kyrgyzstan’s president departs, and security forces begin to make arrests
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan resigned and left the country for neighboring Kazakhstan on Thursday under an agreement brokered by Russia, regional leaders and the Obama administration. Within hours, security forces swooped in to arrest one of his brothers and a political ally.
The president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was driven from the capital, Bishkek, a week ago by violent street protests. He had been holed up in his ancestral village in the south of the country, trying to rally supporters and threatening violence if the interim government tried to arrest him.
Under the brokered deal, Bakiyev was compelled to leave without his younger brother, Zhanybek, the former head of the presidential security service, who is accused of ordering troops to open fire on demonstrators during the protests. Eighty-four people died and hundreds were wounded.
By Thursday evening, security forces had surrounded him in or near the southern city of Jalalabad and were awaiting his surrender, according to Edil Baisalov, the chief of staff for the interim government. The deposed president’s defense minister, Bakytbek Kalyev, was already in custody.
One relative of the deposed president particularly loathed by the new government, Bakiyev’s 32-year-old son, Maksim, was outside Kyrgyzstan when the uprising began. He has been implicated in corruption investigations related to fuel sales to the United States for its base in the country.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a statement saying the deal for Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s departure came out of “joint efforts” by President Barack Obama, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.
A statement from Kazakhstan’s secretary of state and foreign minister, Kanat Saudabayev, called the president’s departure “an important step” toward preventing what some had said could become a civil war.
After days of defiance, Bakiyev began publicly broaching the possibility of resigning but tried to insist on guarantees of safety for himself and his family. But the leader of the interim government, Roza Otunbayeva, said Bakiyev must either stand trial in Kyrgyzstan or go into exile alone, leaving his relatives behind to face prosecution.
The details of Bakiyev’s departure and how fully it was planned by the major powers remained unclear Thursday evening.