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Defendant: Kazakh Officials Linked To Opposition Murder --> Opposition supporters hold portrait of Sarsenbaev following his killing in February (RFE/RL) August 2, 2006 -- A key defendant in the murder trial of Kazakh opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev and two aides today alleged that Senate speaker Nurtai Abykaev and former National Security Committee Chairman Nartai Dutbaev were involved in the February 11 killings.

Rustam Ibragimov, whom prosecutors accuse of killing Sarsenbaev and two aides, also claimed Abykaev and Dutbaev were plotting to overthrow President Nursultan Nazarbaev at the time of the murders.

Ten people have been on trial since mid-June on charges of being involved in Sarsenbaev's assassination. They include former security officers and a Senate official, Yerzhan Utembaev.

Utembaev has retracted his confession, saying he is not responsible for organizing the murder.

Many in Kazakhstan believe Sarsenbaev's killing was politically motivated and that senior government officials commissioned his assassination.

(Interfax-Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Today)
Kazakhstan's Fallen Opposition
Slain Kazakh journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov (undated RFE/RL file photo)

February 13, 2006: Altynbek Sarsenbaev -- a leader of the Kazakh opposition, co-chairman of the Naghyz Aq Zhol party, former minister of information, former Kazakh ambassador to Russia, former secretary of Kazakhstan's Security Council -- is found dead with his bodyguard and his driver, shot to death, execution style, with their hands bound behind their backs.

November 11, 2005: Zamanbek Nurkadilov-- prominent Kazakh politician, former mayor of Almaty, former Minister of Extraordinary Situations, and since a vocal critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev since March 2004 -- is found shot to death, with two shots in his chest and one in his head. Kazakh authorities officially rule the case a suicide.

June 2, 2005: Batyrkhan Darimbet -- opposition journalist and editor in chief of the weekly AZAT -- is killed in what is officially reported as a traffic accident. Relatives and activists assert that it was a political killing.

December 19, 2004: Erzhan Tatishev -- head of Kazakhstan's largest bank, TuranAlemBank -- is killed in what was officially described as a hunting accident. Kazakh political observers allege that it was a premeditated assassination.

July 20, 2004: Askhat Sharipzhan-- independent journalist and political commentator for NAVI online -- dies of injuries sustained several days earlier in what was officially reported as a hit-and-run accident. Relatives and colleagues believe it was an assassination.

November17, 2002: Independent journalist Nuri Muftakh is killed in what is officially reported as a traffic accident. Colleagues and activists regard the death as suspicious.

January 4, 2002: Human rights activist Aleksei Pugaev is found dead, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident. Colleagues regard the circumstances as suspicious and no one is ever arrested in connection with the death.

(compiled by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service)


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