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Kazakhstan: Police Detain Former Energy Minister

Almaty, 28 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Former Kazakh Energy, Industry, and Trade Minister Mukhtar Ablyazov was taken into custody by police yesterday on charges of abuse of office and illegal business activities. Tax officials charge that while Ablyazov was head of the national electric company KEGOC he had links to criminal groups in the country. Ablyazov is a member of a new opposition movement, Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan.

Investigators are looking into money that disappeared from the company during the time Ablyazov headed KEGOC. The money may have ended up being used by criminal groups for what a statement from the national tax office said were "mercenary purposes."