Russian-led bloc undecided on aid for Kyrgyzstan

Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:34pm EDT

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* Central Asian state wants aid to maintain order

* Elections approaching in October



By Denis Dyomkin

YEREVAN, Aug 20 (Reuters) - A Russian-led security grouping failed on Friday to agree to provide military aid for Kyrgyzstan, whose interim leadership is struggling to maintain order before a landmark election in October.

The Central Asian state had asked Russia and fellow ex-Soviet republics to supply hardware and military training in the wake of ethnic bloodshed in June in the south of the poverty-stricken country.

However, a meeting in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Friday of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a Kremlin-led bloc of ex-Soviet republics, ended without a decision.

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said consultations on the issue would continue.

Political analysts say Russia wanted any decision on military aid to be taken collectively to demonstrate the effectiveness of the CSTO, which Russia wants to become an important player in the region extending as far as Afghanistan.

They say some members of the bloc have reservations about the interim Kyrgyz leaders who took power in April after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was removed in a popular revolt.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Sarksyan after the meeting, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said events in Kyrgyzstan showed the CSTO must become more effective.

"The organisation must act quicker," he said. "We must learn from the experience of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations."

Nearly 400 people were killed and thousands made homeless in fierce clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June in southern Kyrgyzstan, Bakiyev's stronghold.

The interim government has struggled to impose its authority on the country, home to U.S. and Russian military bases.

Kyrgyzstan plans to hold an election on Oct. 10 which would create the first parliamentary democracy in post-Soviet Central Asia, a region otherwise ruled by authoritarian leaders.

"We are approaching parliamentary elections, a very difficult period for the political development of Kyrgyzstan," acting Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva told Medvedev at the start of a bilateral meeting at Armenia's Lake Sevan. (Writing by Matt Robinson in Tbilisi; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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