Russia comes out against international investigation into Uzbekistan turmoil - defense minister

Russia comes out against an international investigation into the turmoil in the Uzbek city of Andijan, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

"We come out against international investigations. We have irrefutable evidence of a foreign trace in these events," Ivanov said on arriving in Brussels to attend a session of the Russia-NATO Council.

Uzbekistan is a sovereign country, he added. The Uzbek Prosecutor's Office and authorities should carry out the investigation (the Prosecutor's Office launched criminal proceedings in the attempt to overthrow the constitutional system and the parliament set up a special commission to investigate the unrests).

"It is necessary to find out the masterminds of the turmoil and whereabouts of weapons seized from the local military unit and to answer many other questions," the minister said.

According to him, international officials staying in Uzbekistan, including Russian representatives, were already involved in the investigation.

A source in the Russian Defense Ministry said that there were 50 foreign citizens from Asian countries, including the CIS, among those who were killed and detained in the unrests in Uzbekistan on May 13-14. According to the Uzbek Prosecutor's Office, 179 people were killed in the unrests. However, independent sources and foreign media said that some 1,000 people had been killed.

The source also came out against the international investigation into the unrests Andizhan, one of Uzbekistan's largest cities.

"The purpose of this international investigation is not to find the origin of terrorists but to overthrow President Islam Karimov under the pretext of alleged democratization," the source said.

"The consequences of this will affect Russia, not the West," he added.

According to President Karimov, the turmoil in Andizhan was provoked by Islamic extremists, members of the local unit of the terrorist Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb-ut-Tahrir) striving for establishing a Moslem caliphate in Central Asia.

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