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Kazakhstan: Former Minister Sentenced To Six Years In Jail

Astana, 18 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's Supreme Court today found former Energy, Industry, and Trade Minister Mukhtar Abliyazov guilty of abuse of office and illegal financial dealings and sentenced him to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $3.6 million in fines. Abliyazov maintained his innocence throughout the trial, which started earlier this month. He claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and appeared only after he co-founded the opposition Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK) movement last November.

Another co-founder of the DVK, Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, is currently on trial for abuse of power when he was governor of Kazakhstan's northern Pavlodar Oblast in 1998-99.

Western governments and international human rights organizations have expressed concern over the trials against Abliyazov and Zhaqiyanov.