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Turkmenistan: Rights Groups Condemn Conviction Of Environmentalist

Tashkent, 5 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- International human rights groups today condemned the conviction of a Turkmen environmental activist, the latest prosecution in what critics say is a political crackdown on opponents of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. A statement from the groups said that Farin Tukhbatullin is an "innocent man" and that judicial proceedings against him did not meet "international standards for fair trial."

The statement was signed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, the International League for Human Rights, and Russia's Memorial Human Rights Center.

Tukhbatullin was convicted yesterday and sentenced to three years in prison for concealing a criminal act. Prosecutors accused him of receiving advance word of an alleged assassination attempt against Niyazov from exiled opposition members while attending a human rights conference in Moscow. He was also convicted of illegally crossing the state border.

Critics say Turkmen authorities responded to the alleged 25 November assassination attempt with large-scale human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and show trials.