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Former Uzbek Military Think-Tank Chief Gets 12 Years In Prison For Treason

TASHKENT -- Rafik Saifulin, the former chief of Uzbekistan's presidential military think tank, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of high treason.

A top jurist of the Interior Ministry who took part in the trial, which started behind closed doors in February, told RFE/RL on May 26 that the Military Court of Uzbekistan had found Saifulin guilty of spying for Russia and disclosing state secrets and handed down the sentence a day earlier.

According to the jurist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the case, the 61-year-old Saifulin pleaded partially guilty, saying that the materials he had handed over to Russia included analytical information but not classified documents.

In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the former KGB operative, who in addition to his native Tatar, speaks Uzbek, Russian, Persian, and Pashtu, worked at Uzbekistan's State Committee for Prognosis and Statistics.

He later became the head of the presidential Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies.

Many in Uzbekistan say Saifullin was a close associate of the once-influential former chief of the National Security Service, Rustam Inoyatov, who was dismissed in 2018.

Inoyatov, the long-serving security chief under late President Islam Karimov, turned the Security Service into a powerful and feared agency.

In March, the Military Court sentenced retired army Colonel Vladimir Kaloshin to 12 years in prison on high-treason charges.

Sources close to Uzbek law enforcement structures told RFE/RL in February that Kaloshin, Saifullin, and the chief of a directorate of the United Staff of Uzbekistan's Armed Forces, Akbar Yarbabaev, went on trial on espionage charges.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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