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Jailed Kazakh Oppositionist Put In Punishment Cell

22 January 2005 -- The wife of jailed Kazakh opposition leader Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov said today her husband was placed in an isolation cell for allegedly skipping his prison-ordered work.

Zhaqiyanov was convicted in 2002 on corruption charges his supporters and human rights groups say were politically motivated. He was sent last year to a special settlement in northern Kazakhstan to serve the remainder of his seven-year term.

Karlygash Zhaqiyanova said prison authorities placed her husband in an isolation cell yesterday for allegedly for allegedly failing to report for work on a cattle farm. She called the two-day punishment an attempt to further isolate her husband.

The move came as Zhaqiyanov's party, Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, continues to fight its court-ordered closure earlier this month. Party members say the closure is an attempt to muzzle the opposition ahead of a new presidential ballot.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's term is due to end in January 2006.