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Kazakh Official Says Opposition Is 'Fomenting Unrest'

Opposition leader Zharmakhan Tuyakbai took part in a debate for presidential candidates today (file photo) (RFE/RL) Almaty, 17 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh Interior Minister Baurzhan Mukhamejanov today accused the country's opposition of fomenting unrest ahead of 4 December presidential elections.

Mukhamejanov said the opposition was even arming "radicals" in preparation for mass disorder in the country and that some opposition groups were trying to bribe law enforcement officials.

Kazakhstan's opposition coalition For a Just Kazakhstan today complained that police beat two nephews of Altynbek Sarsenbaev, cochairman of the opposition Naghyz Ak Zhol party.

The incident happened last night. Both men were hospitalized with head injuries.

Meanwhile, four of the five candidates in the presidential election held a televised debate today.

Candidate from For A Just Kazakhstan Zharmakhan Tuyakbai raised the subject of the so-called "Kazakhgate" scandal that involves money allegedly paid to President Nursultan Nazarbaev by U.S. businessman James Giffen for oil contracts.

Tuyakbai said there was no hope of ever learning the truth in the matter as long as the current regime is in power.

Alikhan Baimenov, the candidate from the Ak Zhol (Bright Path) party accused the Kazakh government of "an ostrich policy" by choosing to ignore the scandal.

Nazarbaev was not present as he was in Ukraine on a state visit where he was expected to discuss Kazakh oil and gas exports to Ukraine.

(RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, AP, Reuters, Interfax, ITAR-TASS)

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