Kyrgyzstan seeks extradition of 'prince' said behind unrest

15th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Authorities Tuesday accused the son of Kyrgyzstan's ousted president, nicknamed "the Prince", of being an instigator of a wave of deadly ethnic violence and sought his extradition from Britain.

Maxim Bakiyev, 32, known for his penchant for luxury, is the son of the country's former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was toppled in violent street protests in April and subsequently fled the country.

"The 'wallet' of these riots is the son of the former president, Maxim Bakiyev, who started financing the riots back in April," first deputy president Almazbek Atambayev said at a news conference.

Atambayev said that the inter-ethnic riots -- in which at least 170 people have died in five days of bloody violence -- were paid for with 10 million dollars from Bakiyev's pocket.

Maxim Bakiyev was arrested Monday in Britain after being listed as wanted by Interpol, Kyrgyz officials said. He landed in Britain in a private plane in a apparent bid to apply for asylum.

His family have denied any involvement with the latest unrest but the Kyrgyz authorities said they would fight for his extradition.

"The prosecutors have prepared the material for his extradition to Kyrgyzstan," the Kyrgyz prosecutor general said in a statement.

"An official request has been sent through the Kyrgyz foreign ministry to the competent organs (in Britain) over the extradition of M. Bakiyev for the crimes committed."

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva said at a news conference: "We have facts and proof that he is guilty of crimes, which I hope will help us bring him to trial and we will of course ask Britain to extradite Maxim Bakiyev."

Maxim Bakiyev occupied top posts under his father and was nicknamed the "Prince" by opposition activists.

After studying law, he was appointed to head the Kyrgyz Central Agency for Development, Investment, and Innovations, a post that gave him control of state assets and loans.

Maxim Bakiyev "practically took into his hands the management of executive power," Otunbayeva told the Echo of Moscow radio station in February.

Members of his entourage told the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda that he had a taste for luxury, playing with a deck of gold playing cards and wearing expensive Swiss watches.

Maxim Bakiyev was popular with women and dated a series of girlfriends, including models, before marrying the daughter of Bishkek's former mayor, the tabloid reported in April.

He is reportedly a shareholder of Britain's Blackpool football club -- and was even photographed on the stands with the club's president, Latvian businessman Valery Belokon.

In another sporting venture, in 2007 he was appointed head of Kyrgzystan's wrestling federation.

As the street protests that ousted his father broke out, Maxim Bakiyev was due to be the key speaker at a conference on investing in Kyrgyzstan in Washington DC, organised along with the US Department of Commerce.

In April prosecutors launched criminal charges against Maxim Bakiyev, accusing him of abuse of power and embezzling state loans.

He was charged with transferring at least 35 million dollars of a 300-million-dollar state loan from Russia to a number of bank accounts.

In May Interpol posted Maxim Bakiyev as wanted on its website.

He is also being investigated by the interim Kyrgyz government for possible corrupt business practices related to fuel supply contracts he handled for a US airbase, key for military operations in Afghanistan.

An audio recording was circulated in May on the Internet in which Maxim Bakiyev and his brother Janysh were apparently heard plotting a smear campaign and counter-coup against the new Kyrgyz authorities.

© 2010 AFP

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