Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country with four cars and a helicopter stashed with cash, the Russian embassy said on Monday. The embattled leader left the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday hours before the Taliban took control over Kabul and captured his residence.
Ghani, 72, is said to have left behind some of the cash he carried at the airport as all would not fit in, according to Reuters quoting Russian news agency RIA. Ghani didn't say where he was going but Al Jazeera later reported that he had flown to Uzbekistan looking for political asylum.
According to RIA, as quoted by Reuters, Ghani ensured that he carried enough cash when he left Kabul fearing getting captured and executed by the Taliban. "Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac," Nikita Ishchenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, was quoted as saying by RIA.
"As for the collapse of the (outgoing) regime, it is most eloquently characterized by the way Ghani fled Afghanistan," Ishchenko added.
It is not known where Ghani is presently. Al Jazeera reported that he was headed to Uzbekistan. However, reports later claimed that he is in Oman after Tajikistan denied permission to the aircraft carrying him to land. Reports also said that Ghani is headed to the United States.
That said, Ghani did send a message from an undisclosed location after safely leaving Afghanistan. "To avoid bloodshed, I thought it would be better to leave," Ghani, said in a Facebook in his first comments after his departure.
Taking Public Money
It is not known if it is Ghani's money but reports say that the cash belonged to the people Afghanistan. Ishchenko confirmed his comments to Reuters, citing "witnesses" as the source of his information. Reuters said it could not independently confirm the accuracy of his account immediately.
Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's special representative on Afghanistan, said earlier it was unclear how much money the fleeing government would leave behind.
"I hope the government that has fled did not take all the money from the state budget. It will be the bedrock of the budget if something is left," Kabulov told Moscow's Ekho Moskvy radio station, according to Reuters.
According to reports, the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan is scheduled to meet with the Taliban on Tuesday and then a decision will be taken if the Kremlin will recognize the new Afghan government.
Taliban entered Afghanistan's capital city Kabul on Sunday, completing the takeover which began at a stunning pace in the wake of the withdrawal of US and Nato forces. Photos from Kabul showed Taliban leaders in the presidential palace, from where the Ghazi government once carried out day-to-day affairs.