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Ethnic Uzbek Imam Slain In Russia's Tyumen

Isomiddin Akbarov
Isomiddin Akbarov
TYUMEN, Russia -- An Islamic leader of Uzbek origin has been shot dead in the central Russian city of Tyumen, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Yevgeny Kazakov, the chief investigator in the Tyumen prosecutor's office, told RFE/RL that assassins riddled Isomiddin Akbarov's car with bullets on October 10. He said an investigation had been launched.

Akbarov, 51, left Uzbekistan for Russia in the 1990s and worked as an imam in the town of Novy Urengoi, in Tyumen Oblast, since then.

The leader of the local Muslim community, Khamzat Chernomorenko, told RFE/RL that in September, at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, about 100 Muslim worshippers were detained in a mosque in Novy Urengoi and questioned by security forces.

Some of Akbarov's friends and relatives say security forces might have been involved in the killing.

Chernomorenko added that local media in Tyumen started publishing anti-Akbarov materials last month after security forces arrested one of Akbarov's parishioners, Nafis Shaimukhammetov, who was allegedly involved in terrorist acts in the Russian cities of Perm and Buynaksk.

The Moscow-based weekly "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on September 22 that Shaimukhammetov was actively recruiting people to join Islamic extremist groups operating in the North Caucasus.

A co-chairman of Russia's Council of Muftis, Nafigulla Ashirov, has publicly condemned Akbarov's murder. He said Akbarov had nothing to do with any extremist groups.