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Kazakh Rights Activist Denied Access To Lawyer

Yevgeny Zhovtis

Yevgeny Zhovtis

UST-KAMENOGORSK, Kazakhstan -- The imprisoned director of the Kazakh Bureau for Human Rights, Yevgeny Zhovtis, has been denied access to his lawyer, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhovtis's lawyer, Vitaly Voronov, was not allowed to meet Zhovtis on November 17. Prison officials said the reason for denying access to the visitors is a flu quarantine. He was also reportedly not allowed to see fellow rights activists.

The denial comes one day after Zhovtis wrote an open letter with Tohniyaz Kuchukov, a jailed journalist from the newspaper "Vremya," in which they said prison officials were pressuring them to sign labor contracts.

Zhovtis and Kuchukov were sentenced to four years in jail in September for his role in a deadly traffic accident. Zhovtis was transferred in October to the OV156-13 prison near the northeastern city of Ust-Kamenogorsk -- some 900 kilometers away from his family in Almaty.

Human rights organizations say the charges against Zhovtis are politically motivated because of his professional activity as a human rights defender.