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Kazakh Opposition Leader Released From Prison

Ghalimzhan Zhaqiyanov and his wife (file photo) (RFE/RL) 14 January 2006 -- The wife of Kazakh opposition leader Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov said today that the co-founder of the now disbanded Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan had been released from prison after serving about half of his seven-year prison sentence.

Karlygash Zhaqiyanova said her husband was paroled after judges rejected a prosecutor's appeal against Zhaqiyanov's early release.

Zhaqiyanov was jailed on charges of abuse of office shortly after founding the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement in November 2001. While he was in prison the movement transformed itself into a political party, but last year a court ordered the party disbanded for making anticonstitutional statements.

Zhaqiyanov and his supporters claimed the charges against him were politically motivated.

The opposition For A Just Kazakhstan bloc, which called for Zhaqiyanov's release, said he would return to Almaty on 15 January.

(AP, Interfax)

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