Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  

No change to US, Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan does not plan to call into question the presence or status of US and Russian military bases despite the change in power there, the new Kyrgyz acting head of state and government said yesterday.

"Kyrgyzstan is not planning to review its previous international engagements," Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the opposition leader designated by parliament as the Central Asian state's interim president, told reporters.

"This applies to the air bases of the anti-terrorism coalition and the Russian air base at Kant," Bakiyev said.

The Russian base at Kant, inaugurated personally by President Vladimir Putin in October 2003, was the first military facility set up by Moscow in any former Soviet republic since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

It was located at the site of a one-time Soviet air base that had been empty since the early 1990s and was regarded as a counter-presence to a new air base set up in 2002 by the US-led anti-terrorism coalition after the September 11 attacks.

The fate of both bases was called into question by the sudden collapse of the regime led by Askar Akayev, whose whereabouts were still unconfirmed Friday.