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Russia Releases Editor Of Kazakh Opposition Weekly

Almaty, 26 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russian authorities have released Irina Petrusheva, an opposition journalist who was detained in Russia at the request of the Kazakh police.

Russian authorities released Petrusheva on the grounds that she is a Russian citizen, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Petrusheva is the editor in chief of the Kazakh opposition weekly "Respublika." Kazakh authorities have sought her detention on charges of tax evasion and breaking Kazakh citizenship laws since 2002.

Petrushova had been detained on 23 April when she came to pick up her foreign passport at the Volokolamsk passport office outside Moscow, Russia's "Kommersant-Daily" had reported.

Kazakh opposition and media figures had earlier submitted an appeal for her release to officials at the Russian Embassy in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty, saying Petrusheva's arrest is politically motivated.

Petrusheva has been living in self-imposed exile in Russia since 2002, when she said threats against her life and her newspaper led her to flee Kazakhstan. Petrushova has run the Kazakh-language weekly from Russia since settling there.

In 2002, unknown perpetrators destroyed the newspaper's offices after a dog's headless body with a warning pinned to it had been hung over an office window. Petrushova's husband Murat Kittibaev, who helped run the weekly, was detained by Almaty police and accused of staging the arson attack on the newspaper's offices. Kittibaev was later released.

The weekly also had to change its name several times to continue publishing amid numerous decisions by Almaty city courts shutting down the publication. It has been published under the titled "Ekonomika, Finansy, Rynki," "Assandi-Times," "Respublika," and "Respublika-delovoye obozreniye."

Aleksandr Petrushov, Petrushova's brother, told radio station Ekho Moskvy on 25 April that he feared that Kazakh security forces might try to abduct his sister if she were released.

She was briefly detained and released in St. Petersburg in 2004, also on charges by the Kazakh financial police.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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