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Turkmenistan: Opposition Leader Kuliyev Released In Ashgabat

Prague, 21 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Accounts reaching Prague from Moscow and Ashgabat indicate Turkmen opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Avdy Kuliyev has been released from detention. Russian human rights activist Vitaly Panamaryov, in Moscow, says he spoke to Kuliyev in Ashgabat today. Kuliyev said he was released last night. Panamaryov relayed information to RFE/RL's Prague headquarters this morning. Panamaryov says Kuliyev tells him that the authorities compelled him to give written assurance that he would remain in Ashgabat.

Nurberdi Nurmammed, leader of the opposition "Agzybirlik" movement in Ashgabat, told RFE/RL's Turkmenistan Service today that he visited Kuliyev at home late yesterday after Kuliyev's release.

Kuliyev was detained by authorities at the Ashgabat airport as he arrived Friday (April 17) night on a flight from Moscow. Panamaryov, who had accompanied Kuliyev, was also detained and put on a flight back to Moscow. Kuliyev's wife, who also accompanied him, was detained as well but later released. She remains in Ashgabat.

Kuliyev's wife yesterday had said Kuliyev was formally charged with trying to organize a coup, extortion and planning an unauthorized protest rally in Ashgabat on July 12, 1995.

Speaking by phone with RFE/RL's Turkmenistan Service today from his home in Ashgabat, Kuliyev said he was not mistreated while detained. He also said he is to meet Turkmen state security officials today to find out the nature of the charges -- if any -- that have or will be filed against him.

The Kuliyev episode coincides with the visit to the U.S. by Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov. Niyazov is to meet President Bill Clinton at the White House Thursday. In New York yesterday, Niyazov reportedly denied that Kuliyev was detained.