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Kazakhstan: Foreign Ministry 'Bewildered' By Criticism

Astana, 18 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry released a statement today expressing "bewilderment" over European Parliament criticism of the state of democracy in the country. The European Parliament last week expressed concern about the investigation, judicial proceedings, and verdict in the case of opposition journalist Sergei Duvanov, who was jailed for more than three years on a rape conviction.

The Foreign Ministry statement said the European Parliament document was based on biased information, adding that it was surprising that the parliament did not manage to ask for information from official sources, which, the ministry said, had an influence on the parliament's "nonobjective resolution."

The Foreign Ministry also said the parliament's document went against a partnership-and-cooperation accord between Kazakhstan and the European Union.

Duvanov, the author of several articles alleging corruption within the Kazakh government, was found guilty of raping an underage girl, though he has denied any wrongdoing. The European Parliament said it wants an independent investigation conducted.