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Deported Kazakh’s Relatives Concerned About His Whereabouts

Margulan Mukhambetov, pictured at a refugee camp in the Czech Republic
Margulan Mukhambetov, pictured at a refugee camp in the Czech Republic
ATYRAU, Kazakhstan -- Relatives of a Kazakh man deported from the Czech Republic to Kazakhstan over the weekend are concerned about his whereabouts, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Czech authorities brought Margulan Mukhambetov, 26, to Almaty by plane and handed him to Kazakh border guards at the airport in Almaty on October 12.

Mukhambetov is originally from Atyrau in western Kazakhstan. His mother, Kalima Mukhambetova, told RFE/RL that her son has not contacted her yet. She said she is very concerned about his safety.

Margulan's brother, Erkulaban, says that he was living outside of Kazakhstan for many years and therefore has no friends or relatives in Almaty with whom he could stay.

The deported man is one of some 200 Kazakhs who have been trying to receive asylum in the Czech Republic since 2006. They say they are followers of the "pure faith" branch of Islam, also known as Salafism.

The group in the Czech Republic says its members will face persecution if they are returned to Kazakhstan.

Czech authorities are hesitant to give them refugee status, saying that Kazakhstan will chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) soon and, as such, the country would not persecute its citizens for their religious views.

Mukhambetov was the first Kazakh asylum seeker deported to Kazakhstan.