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Rights Group 'Shocked' By Uzbek Asylum Seeker's Extradition

Official figures say 187 people died in the government crackdown in Andijon (epa) MOSCOW, October 25, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A Russian rights group today said it was "shocked" by Russia's decision to deport Uzbek asylum seeker Rustam Muminov.

Talking to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service in Moscow, the head of Civic Assistance (Grazhdanskoye Sodeistvie), Svetlana Gannushkina, said she had received official confirmation that Muminov was forcibly put on a flight bound for Tashkent on October 24.

Gannushkina, whose group offers legal assistance to asylum seekers, also suggested Russian authorities may have chosen to ignore a recommendation by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) asking them to suspend Muminov's extradition.

"He was sent back yesterday. I think that by that time the Russian authorities had received the decision of the European court. They could have stopped the extradition procedure," she said.

Gannushkina said the head of the immigration detention center where Muminov was being kept had told her Muminov "was taken away by representatives of the Federal Migration Service and the Federal Security Service."

Muminov's lawyer, Olga Chumakova, sent RFE/RL's Uzbek Service a copy of a letter she had received on October 24 from the ECHR.

In the letter, dated October 24, the deputy head of the court's registrar, Santiago Quesadar, said the chamber had decided to notify the Russian government that Muminov should not be expelled "until further notice."

Russia in early August ruled in favor of extraditing to Uzbekistan 13 asylum seekers – including one Kyrgyz national -- who, like Muminov, were wanted in connection with last year's uprising in Andijon.

But it suspended the extradition procedure a few days later to give the ECHR time to consider their case.