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Uzbek Opposition Leader Pleads Not Guilty --> Sanjar Umarov (file photo) (RFE/RL) TASHKENT, 27 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- An Uzbek opposition leader today pleaded not guilty to charges of economic crimes.

The chairman of the Sunshine Uzbekistan Coalition, Sanjar Umarov, said in a Tashkent court that the charges against him were fabricated.

He also claimed he was threatened during the investigation in an attempt to force him to confess.

A verdict is expected in the coming days. Prosecutors have asked for an 18-year prison term.

Uzbek prosecutors have demanded a 12-year prison sentence for another Sunshine activist, Nodira Hidoyatova. She is also on trial for economic crimes.

The coalition has been a vocal critic of a government crackdown on an uprising in the eastern city of Andijon in May 2005.

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