TEYIT, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s deposed president on Sunday defended the legitimacy of his rule and urged the United Nations to send peacekeepers to help stabilize the strategically vital Central Asian nation.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said from his home village in the south of the country that he had not ordered police to fire at protesters in the capital.

“My conscience is clear,” he said.

Bakiyev fled the capital, Bishkek, on Wednesday after a protest rally against corruption, rising utility bills and deteriorating human rights exploded into police gunfire and chaos that left at least 81 people dead and sparked protesters to storm the government headquarters.

Looking self-assured, Bakiyev denounced the protest as a “coup” and angrily rejected the self-proclaimed interim government’s demand to step down.

“I’m the head of state,” he said.

The stalemate has left Kyrgyzstan’s near-term stability in doubt, a worry for the West because of the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan that is a crucial element in the international military campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Bakiyev strongly urged the U.N. to send a peacekeeping force to Kyrgyzstan, arguing that the nation’s police and the military are too weak to keep the unrest from spreading.

“The people of Kyrgyzstan are very afraid,” Bakiyev said in the yard of his family compound in Teyit. “They live in terror.”

The head of interim government, Roza Otunbayeva, said Sunday that Bakiyev must face trial, rescinding an earlier offer of security guarantees for him. The statement reflected the toughening of the new authorities’ stance as they grow increasingly impatient with the ousted Bakiyev’s refusal to step down.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters Sunday at his family mansion, Bakiyev warned the government against an attempt to arrest him, saying that it will lead to bloodshed.

Across the mountains from Bakiyev’s stronghold, a deputy head of the self-declared interim government, Omurbek Tekebayev warned Bakiyev against using force.

“If he attempts to destabilize the situation and shed blood, he would put himself outside the law and we would conduct an operation to destroy him as a terrorist and a criminal,” Tekebayev said in the capital, Bishkek.


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