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Russia holding back on Kyrgyzstan intervention

In spite of repeated appeals by the interim Kyrgyz government, Russia has for the time being decided not to send troops to Kyrgyzstan to help calm down the situation in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad.

Refugees standing next to barbed wire

Thousands of refugees are waiting to get into Uzbekistan

As the carnage continues in and around the cities of Osh and Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan, Russia is increasingly being seen as the only force capable of restoring law and order. Regular Kyrgyz troops do not appear to be capable of keeping the peace as violence against ethnic Uzbeks have left at least 124 people dead. There have even been accusations that Krygyz troops are taking sides with the armed gangs, who have been killing and looting for three days.

Roza Otunbayeva

Otunbayeva has called on Russia to help

Roza Otunbayeva, the interim president of Kyrgyzstan, has asked Russia to intervene and send troops to the area. But Moscow says it considers the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan an internal matter for that country and has only sent several hundred troops to defend a Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan. Russia, along with the European Union, has agreed to send humanitarian aid.

Tens of thousands of Uzbeks have fled the area for neighbouring Uzbekistan, with several thousand more waiting to get in.

No troops for now

Even if Russia opts to not get involved in the conflict, peace troops could be sent by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a regional defense block led by Russia. But at a meeting in Moscow on Monday, the member states decided not to send troops for now. Kyrgyzstan has not yet done enough to calm the situation by itself, said chairman Nikolai Patrushev. But, he said, other measures to help Kyrgyzstan solve the crisis are underway.

"We hope that these measures will be approved shortly by the presidents of the member states and that we'll soon start working," said Patruchev.

In the meantime, the situation in Osh and Jalalabad appears to be stabilizing, but reports of looting continue. Questions remain about the numbers killed, with some unconfirmed media reports putting the death toll at several hundred.

Author: Geert Groot Koerkamp, Moscow (mz)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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