* 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 (Reuters) - 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 interest rates.
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. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For a full menu of stories, click on [nLDE6360UW] For a graphic, click www.dinkylink.co.uk/kyrgyz186 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)