* Kyrgyz interim government says state coffers empty
* Russia to lend $30 million and supply $20 million grant
* PM Putin says financial aid could be increased
* Finance and fuel will help Kyrgyz farmers
(Adds quotes, details, background)
By Gleb Bryanski
MOSCOW, April 14 Russia agreed on Wednesday to
supply $50 million in aid and loans to Kyrgyzstan after the
interim leadership of the Central Asian republic said state
coffers were empty following the overthrow of the president.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the first senior
official to contact ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan's provisional
leadership after last week's uprising, offered money and fuel to
help the impoverished nation fund its next harvest.
"The provisional government says the coffers are bare, that
the old leadership stole the lot," Putin said after several
ministers in his government met the visiting Kyrgyz delegation.
"We must support our friends."
Russia has moved quickly to establish relations with the
interim leadership of Kyrgyzstan, which assumed power after an
uprising on April 7. At least 84 people were killed and 1,600
more injured when troops fired into a crowd of demonstrators.
Putin rang Roza Otunbayeva to offer Russian assistance less
than 24 hours after she dissolved parliament and said she was in
charge of Kyrgyzstan, where a third of the 5.3 million
population lives below the poverty line.
The United States, which operates a military base on Kyrgyz
soil to support NATO operations in Afghanistan, also sent
Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake to Bishkek on
Wednesday in a sign of the big power rivalries in the region.
Moscow-educated Otunbayeva sent her deputy to Moscow for
talks with the Russian government. Moscow's pledge was only a
third of the $150 million that Almazbek Atambayev had said he
would request, though Putin said the amount could be increased.
Russia, which also has an air base in the country, has
sought to evict U.S. interests in Central Asia, an area between
China, Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea that was under Moscow's
rule when the Soviet Union existed.
Alexei Kudrin, Russia's finance minister, said the financial
package would comprise a $20 million grant and a $30 million
loan from state-run Russian Agriculture Bank, at preferential
Igor Sechin, a powerful deputy to Putin who oversees the
energy sector, said Russian oil companies would send 25,000
tonnes of refined products to Kyrgyzstan. This would mainly be
used to fuel tractors and allow the country to sow crops.
Kyrgyzstan's main crops are wheat, barley, cotton and maize.
The ministers did not specify whether Russia would supply
the oil products free of charge, or whether the loans would be
used to pay for the fuel.
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(Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)