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Kyrgystan: Death toll in riots in Kyrgyzstan probably 10 times more, says interim leader

18-06-2010

BISHKEK,(Xinhua): The real number of the deaths from recent riots in southern Kyrgyzstan could be 10 times more than the official figure of 191, interim government leader Roza Otunbayeva said on Friday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that it was up to the Kyrgyz leaders to address the violent situation in the country's south while repeating an earlier Kremlin decision not to send peacekeepers.

"I think there is no need to involve Russian peacekeepers, and our Kyrgyz partners withdrew that request, because actually it is they themselves that must resolve this situation, it is an internal affair," Medvedev told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on the Kremlin's website.

A Kremlin spokeswoman told reporters that Russia saw no need to get involved in Kyrgyzstan's internal conflict, but pledged to provide humanitarian support to the southern part of the Central Asian state, where ethnic clashes have left 191 people dead and nearly 2,000 injured.

The Russian leader also praised Uzbekistan's "very careful, balanced position" on the issue, saying "they accept refugees but avoid raising a hue and cry over it all."

An estimated 400,000 people have been displaced in the clashes that erupted last week, most of whom are ethnic Uzbeks. Up to 100,000 people have taken refuge in neighboring Uzbekistan, according to UN officials.

Russian-led regional security group, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has also said it will not deploy peacekeepers to Kyrgyzstan, though promising to send advisors to help prevent fresh riots.

Moscow sent troops to Kyrgyzstan in 1990 to quell a similar conflict when the country was still part of the Soviet Union.

The Kyrgyz interim government, which overthrew former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, has accused Bakiyev of instigating the violence in a bid to shake the official rule in the south.

Bakiyev, who is now in Belarus in self-proclaimed exile, has denied the charge.

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