MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday that Russia's special services had possessed information on disturbances being prepared in Andijan, a large city in Uzbekistan. "We really knew [about] individual elements," the minister said Wednesday at a meeting with Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Karimov said Western media had prepared an information attack even prior to the events in Andijan. The disturbances, which officially left 176 people dead and 295 wounded, had been a thoroughly planned operation, he added.
The Uzbek president said foreign journalists had started arriving in Uzbekistan in big groups several days before the tragedy. After failing to gain accreditation in the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, they went to Andijan from the nearby Kyrgyz town of Osh to prepare their "breaking news" stories beforehand.
This operation was thoroughly planned from the beginning to the end, Karimov said. "First, a 'peaceful' demonstration, a minor disturbance that would inevitably lead to loss of life, and then accusations that the government was to blame for the disorder," he said.
He said "the peaceful demonstrators" had confirmed reports that the crowd of protestors had been prepared beforehand in the south of Kyrgyzstan and in Afghanistan.
Karimov thanked the Russian defense minister for being one of the first people to voice an objective viewpoint on the events in Andijan. Karimov said he had specially sought a meeting with the defense minister when he was planning his visit to Russia.