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Hearings Begin In Trial Of Kazakh Opposition Leaders

Opposition leaders Asylbek Kozhakhmetov and Bolat Abilov (left and second left) are among the defendants
ALMATY -- Almaty City's Almaly District Court has started the main hearing in a case against three Kazakh opposition leaders, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Bolat Abilov, the leader of the Azat Party; Asylbek Kozhakhmetov, the leader of the Shangyrak opposition movement; and Tolen Tokhtasynov, who heads Kazakhstan's Communist party are charged with assisting Kazakh murder suspects in getting political asylum in Ukraine.

The charges against the defendants were read on April 9. Tokhtasynov has been abroad for several months and is being tried in absentia.

The defendants and their lawyers say that the charges are politically motivated.