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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Rejects Bakiyev's Claim to Kyrgyz Presidency

Russia on Thursday rejected a statement by ousted Kyrgyz leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev that he is still the president of the Central Asian state.

"I know only one thing: that Mr. Bakiyev faxed his resignation back to Bishkek, so this document cannot be rejected by a verbal statement," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference.

Bakiyev issued a defiant statement in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, on Wednesday, saying he did not recognize his own resignation and called on international leaders to not acknowledge Kyrgyzstan's new leaders.

"I will do everything to restore constitutional order to Kyrgyzstan," Bakiyev told reporters. "I don't recognize my resignation. … Only death can stop me."

Meanwhile, the interim Kyrgyz administration, which took power after an April 7 revolt ousted Bakiyev, said the country was unlikely to decide whether to allow the United States to retain its air base in the country until after an October election.

"The provisional government considers that such important questions must be looked at by a legal government, that is to say by the new government which will be formed after the parliamentary elections," Omurbek Tekebayev, a deputy prime minister in charge of constitutional reform, said in an interview.

He said parliamentary elections would be held Oct. 10.

Tekebayev said there were different opinions within the government about the U.S. base lease, which interim government chief Roza Otunbayeva has said will be kept in place. She has also said there are some outstanding questions about the base.

"There are those who give a definite 'no,' and there are others who are wavering," Tekebayev said. "It's possible that the current ruling coalition will split into separate factions by election time, and each will probably present its position on the base to voters."

The interim government plans to cut the power of the presidency with constitutional changes that will be put to a referendum on June 27, Tekebayev said.

"We want to create a parliamentary republican form of governance and are looking at mechanisms to really support a parliamentary opposition," he said.

"The president is the commander in chief and the head of state, but full executive power including foreign affairs will be with the prime minister and parliament," he said.

"The election result will determine who becomes prime minister. We don't know which party will get into parliament or how many seats they will occupy."

Both Russia and the United States, which are vying for influence in Kyrgyzstan, have held talks with the interim government, and both have called for new elections.

But diplomats say the new leaders of Kyrgyzstan face an uphill battle to create a functioning democracy.

Kyrgyzstan's new rulers have been struggling to maintain their authority after Bakiyev fled the country last week. Elections could consolidate their position, but they could also prolong instability as rival clans and ethnic groups vie for influence.

Five people died on Monday and Tuesday in attacks on ethnic Russians and Meskhetian Turks by looters trying to exploit the post-revolt turbulence to seize land.

Bakiyev's allies last week briefly seized a regional government building in the south of the country, where there is a large minority of ethnic Uzbeks.