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Jehovah's Witnesses in Tajikistan are expecting a verdict from the Supreme Court on their appeal of the decision that terminated the religious group's activities in the country, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Yury Toporov, a spokesman in Moscow for the Jehovah's Witnesses, told RFE/RL that the organization filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in December and, according to the law, a review of the appeal must be made within two months of the filing.

Toporov said the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was legally registered in Tajikistan in 1994.

But the Culture Ministry banned the religious group's activities in Tajikistan in October 2007 because the group's literature attacks other religions, its members actively proselytize, and they have prayer meetings in their homes rather than designated buildings.

On September 29, 2008, a trial judge in Dushanbe dismissed an application by the Jehovah's Witnesses asking that the Culture Ministry's decision be overturned. An appeal was also dismissed by the Supreme Court's Military Collegium in February 2009.

Toporov told RFE/RL: "In fact, Tajik authorities say their country is a modern country respecting all the religious groups and confessions and therefore we believe that Jehovah's Witnesses will be allowed to gather and to preach their faith in Tajikistan as they used to do before. That would correspond to international standards and Tajikistan's international obligations."
Mukhtar Ablyazov is the former president of BTA bank (undated photo)
Fugitive Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov has vowed to continue publishing documents implicating Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law, Timur Kulibaev, has been involved in corrupt business deals, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

On February 1, Kazakh officials impounded the editions of five opposition and independent newspapers that contain a statement by Ablyazov alleging serious corruption by Kulibaev.

Ablyazov told RFE/RL in an exclusive interview he was aware of a defamation lawsuit filed by Kulibaev against him and the newspapers but that it wouldn't deter him.

An Almaty district court ordered the seizure of the newspapers after Kulibaev filed the lawsuit against the publications "Respublika," "Golos Respubliki" (Voice of the Republic), "Vzglyad" (Glance), "Kursiv," and "Kursiv-News."

Ablyazov alleged in the newspapers that Kulibaev illegally obtained tens of millions of dollars in a deal with Chinese National Petroleum Corporation several years ago.

Ablyazov left Kazakhstan for London in 2009 after his BTA Bank was taken over by the government.

Presidential son-in-law Timur Kulibaev
He says there is a positive side to Kulibaev's lawsuit against him. "Since this is a civil case, the trial should be open, and if it is open I am ready to prove every word of mine with documents and other materials I have," he said.

Ablyazov said this is also a good opportunity to check if Nazarbaev was sincere when he said publicly several times that his children and other relatives are not special and are like all citizens of Kazakhstan.

He said he intends to make several more public statements via the Internet and independent media in the near future.

Ablyazov said a group of businessmen approached him recently seeking some documents I have "so that they could file lawsuits against Kulibaev, and I am ready to help them." He said the time has come for Kazakhstan's business community to clear up some issues with Nazarbaev's second son-in-law.

Kulibaev is an executive in many of Kazakhstan's energy-related businesses and the husband of Nazarbaev's second daughter, Dinara.

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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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