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Zhanar Akhmet

A Kyiv court has released a Kazakh blogger from detention at a Ukrainian lawmaker's request while authorities consider her possible extradition to Kazakhstan.

Svitlana Zalishchuk, a member of Ukraine's parliament, wrote on Facebook that Zhanar Akhmet, who fled to Ukraine after criticizing Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government, was released on November 22 pending a decision on her extradition.

The ruling makes Zalishchuk responsible for ensuring that Akhmet does not flee Ukraine.

Akhmet was detained in Kyiv last month based on a Kazakh arrest warrant that accuses her of fraud.

On November 2, the Shevchenko District Court in Kyiv ruled that Akhmet must remain in detention for 60 days before the decision on her possible extradition is made.

Akhmet fled Kazakhstan in March with her 9-year-old son, saying she feared for her safety if she remained in the Central Asian nation.

Akhmet told RFE/RL that she decided to flee when she learned from sources that she could face charges of "organizing an illegal group" that uses the Internet to advocate self-immolation.

She previously faced a series of court hearings in Almaty for alleged infractions, including jaywalking, that she considered politically motivated retaliation for her criticism of authorities.

At least four other Kazakh opposition and rights activists -- Ermek Narymbaev, Moldir Adilova, Aidos Sadyqov, and Natalya Sadyqova -- also have fled to Ukraine in recent years.

Nazarbaev, 77, has held power in Kazakhstan since before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He has established tight control over politics and the media and tolerates little dissent in the oil-producing country of 18 million.

Ali Feruz is to remain at a holding center for foreigners whose status is in question until the ECHR issues a final decision about his case.

A Moscow court has fined Ali Feruz, an Uzbek citizen who works for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, after ruling that he worked illegally in Russia.

The Basmanny district court issued the ruling late on November 21 and ordered Feruz to pay a 5,000-ruble ($85) fine.

Feruz pleaded not guilty, insisting that he was not Novaya Gazeta's permanent employee and did not receive regular salary from the newspaper for his work.

The court also ruled that he should be deported to Uzbekistan, but suspended that decision due to an August ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The ECHR order to suspend the journalist's deportation was issued after rights groups said they feared Feruz could face torture, imprisonment, or even death at the hands of Uzbek authorities.

Last month, the same Moscow court upheld immigration officials' 2015 decision to refuse asylum for Feruz, saying that the journalist had failed to prove he faces danger in Uzbekistan.

Feruz is to remain at a holding center for foreigners whose status is in question until the ECHR issues a final decision about his case.

Novaya Gazeta spokeswoman Nadezhda Prusenkova said on November 22 that the court's decision to fine Feruz will be appealed.

Feruz, whose real name is Hudoberdi Nurmatov, was born in Siberia in 1986.

He left Russia for Uzbekistan at the age of 17 to live with his Uzbek stepfather and to accept Uzbek citizenship.

But he fled Uzbekistan in 2008, alleging he was detained and tortured for two days by members of Uzbekistan’s security service.

Prominent rights activists and intellectuals in Russia have called on the Kremlin not to deport Feruz.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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