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Bashkir Nationalist Leader Jailed On Drug Charges


Fanzil Akhmetshin's lawyer says he plans to appeal.

Fanzil Akhmetshin's lawyer says he plans to appeal.

UFA, Russia -- A court in the capital of Russia's Bashkortostan Republic, Ufa, has sentenced a Bashkir nationalist leader to 4 1/2 years in jail.

Fanzil Akhmetshin, a leader of the World Bashkir Assembly (Kurultai), a Bashkir cultural organization, was found guilty of drug trafficking.

Akhmetshin was arrested in November 2011 after police said they found opium in his suitcase upon his return from a visit to Somalia.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Akhmetshin's lawyer said his client planned to appeal the court's decision.

Hundreds of Akhmetshin's supporters have staged numerous protests since his arrest.
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