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Some Kyrgyz express anger with America for its relationship with the Bakiyev government.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — In the immediate aftermath of Kyrgyzstan’s violent government overthrow this week, American interests in the strategic central Asia region may suffer a profound blow, while Russia’s authority appears ready to increase.
Thousands turned out today at a cemetery complex on the edge of Bishkek for a public burial for some of those killed in the fighting. Kyrgyzstan’s health ministry now places the number dead at 79.
But three days after thousands of protesters — some armed with weapons seized from police — overcame government security forces and drove President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from the capital, senior officials in the country’s new provisional government expressed outrage that Washington seemingly turned a blind eye to the deposed administration’s abuses. Some of them are calling for the closure of the United States' air base outside the capital — a strategic transit hub that is key to President Barack Obama’s plans to ramp up operations in nearby Afghanistan.
Azimbek Beknazarov, the new government’s vice prime minister responsible for legal matters, said that U.S. officials were apparently indifferent to Bakiyev’s human rights violations, while providing the means for the Bakiyev family to become extraordinarily rich.
“The last two-three years, Kyrgyzstan’s democratic values have been destroyed,” Beknazarov said in an interview with GlobalPost amid the debris of the looted presidential administration building, which was the focus of Wednesday’s violence.
“America closed its eyes to this,” he said. “That’s why the majority of people now think that America only needs its military base and nothing else interests it.”
Beknazarov said that the provisional government has not yet formally started to discuss whether to keep the base open, although many ordinary people are asking them take up the question. “My own personal opinion is that Kyrgyzstan doesn’t need such a base,” he said.
Meanwhile, operations at Manas air base have been curtailed sharply. A press spokesperson there said that troop transport flights have been temporarily suspended, although other “normal operations,” such as re-fueling, continue. He did not provide details why the troop flights were halted.