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Russia Suspends Extradition Of Andijon Suspects

Hundreds were jailed in Uzbekistan following the Andijon crackdown (RFE/RL) PRAGUE, August 15, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Russia says it has suspended the deportation of 12 Uzbeks and one Kyrgyz to Uzbekistan, where they are wanted for their alleged involvement in last year's antigovernment protests in Andijon.

The Prosecutor-General's Office says in a statement on its website that the extradition procedure has been suspended until the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights decides on the fate of the would-be deportees.

Russian authorities on August 3 said they had decided to meet an extradition request from Uzbekistan and deport the 13, who have been kept in custody in the central city of Ivanovo since June 2005.

Tashkent claims the Ivanovo detainees helped fund and organize the May 2005 Andijon unrest, in which officially 187 people died. The would-be deportees deny the accusations.

Rights groups say the official death toll of the Andijon unrest is underestimated and that hundreds of people died at the hands of government troops when they reasserted control over the city.

Kyrgyzstan on August 9 deported five Uzbek citizens wanted for their alleged participation to the Andijon uprising. Among them were four UN refugees and one asylum seeker.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Union's Finnish presidency have condemned the Kyrgyz decision, saying it violates the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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