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Kazakh Border Chief Pleads Not Guilty To Corruption Charge

ASTANA -- The former head of Kazakhstan’s Border Guard Service has pleaded not guilty in a high-profile corruption case.

Nurlan Zholamanov went on trial on January 26 in Astana.

He called the case against him "fabricated and politically motivated."

Zholamanov's co-defendant Qairat Balmaghambetov, the former commander of a military unit, pleaded guilty.

Zholamanov was arrested in October and charged with bribetaking and "setting up an organized criminal group."

Balmaghambetov is under house arrest.

Several former Kazakh officials have faced prosecution on suspicion of graft in the last two years, and some have been sentenced to long prison terms.

In October, former deputy agriculture minister Muslim Omiraev was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of accepting a $100,000 bribe.

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