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Fugitive Kazakh Banker Ablyazov Faces New Charge

Kazakh opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov after being released by French authorities in December.

ASTANA -- Fugitive Kazakh tycoon and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov faces a new charge in his home country.

Kazakhstan's Anticorruption Bureau said on February 2 that Ablyazov has been charged with the creation of an international criminal community and summoned to the bureau's headquarters in Astana by February 10.

The 53-year-old former head of Kazakhstan's BTA bank is wanted by Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine on suspicion of embezzling some $5 billion. He denies it, saying the case against him is politically motivated.

He was arrested on the French Riviera in 2013 after months on the run. He was released from jail on December 9 after France's highest administrative court cancelled an order for his extradition to Russia, saying the request had been made for political reasons.

Ablyazov said after his release that he is aiming to topple Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government within the next three years.

Kazakhstan has no extradition treaty with France, but has such deals with Russia and Ukraine.

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