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Kazakh Opposition Figure Detained En Route To Meet Rice

(RFE/RL) Almaty, 12 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh security forces today detained a prominent Kazakh opposition figure while he was on the way to meet visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Tolen Tokhtasynov heads a political group supporting Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, the presidential candidate for the country's main opposition movement, For a Just Kazakhstan.

Members of his group say that as Tokhtasynov was leaving his office in Almaty today, armed security forces detained him, put him in a car and then drove him away.

Tokhtasynov was on his way to the airport to catch a plane to the Kazakh capital Astana, where the U.S. Embassy had invited him to meet with Rice.

Amirzhan Qosanov, a leader of the Republican People's Party and also a member of Tuyakbai's support group, says he witnessed the detention. He called RFE/RL to describe what happened: "About 30 minutes ago Tolen Tokhtasynov was on his way to Almaty airport, because together with other representatives of our democratic forces, he had been invited to the meeting with Condoleezza Rice in Astana. On his way, about 20 OMON [special security] officers with weapons stopped him and took him away in their car. Our lawyers tell us now that they have taken him to the Almaty administrative court house. After that happened, immediately all the telephone lines and electricity were switched off in our office, that is why I am speaking to you through mobile phone now."

Qosanov said the detention was made without an official reason. Rice, who is currently touring Central Asian countries, is due to meet with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev tomorrow.

(RFE/RL's Kazakh Service)

For more news about events in Kazakhstan, see RFE/RL's webpage News and Features on Kazakhstan

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