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Kazakh Senate Approves New Intelligence Chief

Kazakh President Nazarbaev (file photo) (RFE/RL) March 2, 2006 -- Kazakhstan's Senate today unanimously approved the personal security boss of President Nursultan Nazarbaev as the country's new intelligence chief.

Amangeldy Shabdarbaev replaces Nartai Dutbaev as the head of the National Security Service (KNB).

Dutbaev resigned following the slaying of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev. Five officers from the KNB's elite Arystan (Lion) anti-terrorism unit were arrested over the killing.

Shabdarbaev is himself a former commander of the Arystan group.

The head of the Senate administration, Erzhan Utembaev, was arrested for allegedly ordering Sarsenbaev's death. His motives were personal, the Kazakh authorities say.

Opposition members differ, arguing that Sarsenbaev's murder was politically motivated.

(Kazinform, AP, Reuters)

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