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Kazakh Opponent Of Russian Rockets Charged With Inciting Hatred

ASTANA -- A Kazakh activist and blogger who has protested against launches of Russian Proton rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome has been detained and charged with a hate crime.

An Astana City Court spokeswoman told RFE/RL on March 10 that Saken Baikenov was sent to pretrial detention for two months late on March 9. He was charged with inciting social hatred.

Proton rockets have exploded several times in recent years during failed launches from the Russian-leased facility in central Kazakhstan, contaminating the area with toxic hepthyl fuel.

Baikenov is a prominent opponent of Proton launches and has taken part in several anti-Proton protests in Almaty and the capital, Astana, in recent months.

His wife, Qarlyghash Myrzadilova, told RFE/RL that police had taken Baikenov from their Almaty apartment on March 7.

Baikenov's lawyer, Tolegen Shaiqov, told RFE/RL that he was not at the court hearing on March 9 and had not yet been able to read the case documents.

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