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Lithuania Releases Fugitive Kazakh Tycoon's Brother-in-Law

A Lithuanian court has released on bail the brother-in-law of fugitive Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov.

The Vilnius District Court ruled on December 18 that Syrym Shalabaev be released on $50,000 bail. It also ruled that his possible extradition to Kazakhstan can be decided after a decision on his request for political asylum is made.

Shalabaev was arrested in Lithuania in July. He is a brother of Alma Shalabaeva, who is the wife of former Kazakh banker and opposition figure Ablyazov.

Ablyazov is currently in French custody fighting against a French court's ruling to extradite him to Russia.

Accused of embezzling some $5 billion when he was head of Kazakhstan's BTA bank, Ablyazov is wanted for embezzlement by Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. Investigators say Shalabaev was also involved in the alleged crime.

Ablyazov says the charges against him are politically motivated.

Based on reporting by and Interfax