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Kazakhstan: Ministry Accuses European Envoys Of Interference

Almaty, 11 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry today accused European diplomats of interfering in an investigation into an opposition figure who took refuge at the French Embassy in a bid to evade arrest in late March. Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, a founding member of the Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK) movement, was being held under house arrest in Almaty after leaving the French Embassy on 3 April. But he was unexpectedly moved to the northern city of Pavlodar yesterday.

The Foreign Ministry said the move was made in the interests of the investigation. It said embassy representatives of European Union member states were spending too much time visiting Zhaqiyanov while he was under house arrest which, the ministry said, hindered the investigation.

A former governor of Pavlodar Oblast, Zhaqiyanov is being investigated on abuse of power charges, which he says are politically motivated.

Zhaqiyanov agreed to leave the French Embassy and be placed under house arrest on condition that he had free access to lawyers and that EU representatives could visit him freely.