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Supporters Of Slain Kazakh Oppositionist Open Probe

Sarsenbaev at the December 2005 funeral of another murdered opposition leader (RFE/RL) ALMATY, August 29, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Relatives and supporters of slain Kazakh opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev today said they will proceed with their own probe into his assassination, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Addressing a news briefing in Almaty, they said they want to find out who really commissioned the February murder of Sarsenbaev, the chairman of the Naghiz Ak Zhol party.

Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, a leader of the For A Just Kazakhstan opposition movement, said he believes the current trial of 10 defendants accused of involvement in Sarsenbaev's assassination is biased.

He also reiterated his conviction that Sarsenbaev's murder was commissioned by high-ranking state officials.

"One cannot say that [Kazakh] officials are interested in bringing other people to court as suspects, Tuyakbai said. "They fear such people should be looked for among top power holders. Their main objective is to leave the situation as it is and [prevent] any further investigation so that those stooges [who are on trial] are convicted as the main culprits. In other words, they're eager to put an end to this story in order to prevent further hearings and investigations."

State Prosecutor Vladimir Kirilenko on August 10 demanded that the two main defendants in the trial -- former Senate administration official Yerzhan Utembaev and former security officer Rustam Ibragimov -- be sentenced to death and that the other eight defendants be handed jail sentences of up to 20 years.

The court is expected to make its decision public on August 31.

Kazakhstan's Fallen Opposition

Kazakhstan's Fallen Opposition
Slain Kazakh journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov (undated RFE/RL file photo)

February 13, 2006: Altynbek Sarsenbaev -- a leader of the Kazakh opposition, co-chairman of the Naghyz Aq Zhol party, former minister of information, former Kazakh ambassador to Russia, former secretary of Kazakhstan's Security Council -- is found dead with his bodyguard and his driver, shot to death, execution style, with their hands bound behind their backs.

November 11, 2005: Zamanbek Nurkadilov-- prominent Kazakh politician, former mayor of Almaty, former Minister of Extraordinary Situations, and since a vocal critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev since March 2004 -- is found shot to death, with two shots in his chest and one in his head. Kazakh authorities officially rule the case a suicide.

June 2, 2005: Batyrkhan Darimbet -- opposition journalist and editor in chief of the weekly AZAT -- is killed in what is officially reported as a traffic accident. Relatives and activists assert that it was a political killing.

December 19, 2004: Erzhan Tatishev -- head of Kazakhstan's largest bank, TuranAlemBank -- is killed in what was officially described as a hunting accident. Kazakh political observers allege that it was a premeditated assassination.

July 20, 2004: Askhat Sharipzhan-- independent journalist and political commentator for NAVI online -- dies of injuries sustained several days earlier in what was officially reported as a hit-and-run accident. Relatives and colleagues believe it was an assassination.

November17, 2002: Independent journalist Nuri Muftakh is killed in what is officially reported as a traffic accident. Colleagues and activists regard the death as suspicious.

January 4, 2002: Human rights activist Aleksei Pugaev is found dead, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident. Colleagues regard the circumstances as suspicious and no one is ever arrested in connection with the death.

(compiled by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service)


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To view an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of Kazakhstan, click here.


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