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Uzbek Activist Charged With Economic Crimes

20 December 2005 -- Prosecutors in Tashkent announced today that an Uzbek opposition activist has been charged with economic crimes and is under arrest after returning from a trip to Russia.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said today Nodira Hidoyatova was arrested yesterday on charges of embezzlement, concealment of foreign currency, tax evasion, and money laundering.

A spokeswoman for the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office, Svetlana Ortiqova, told RFE/RL today that the charges are economic and not political.

"All these crimes [with which Hidoyatova is charged] are economic," spokeswoman Ortiqova said. "There should be no political interpretation of them. Hidoyatova has committed crimes of an economic nature and she is charged with those crimes accordingly."

Hidoyatova is a member of Sunshine Coalition, an opposition coalition that has been a vocal critic of the government crackdown of an uprising in the eastern city of Andijon in May.

Another Financial Prosecution

In October, Sunshine Coalition Chairman Sanjar Umarov was arrested on embezzlement and tax-evasion charges.

Nodira Hidoyatova sister, Nigora, who is coordinator of the coalition, has said the real motive for the two arrests was to stop the coalition's political activities.

Nigora's husband, Orifjon Oydin, died from gunshot wounds earlier this month in Kazakhstan in what she has described a "political murder."

(AFP and other wire reports)

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