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Kazakh Officials Arrest Turkish Man Fleeing Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz officials say a Turkish man wanted on criminal charges in Kyrgyzstan has been arrested in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Kyrgyz National Security Committee spokesman Nurlanbek Toktaliev told RFE/RL on June 29 that Gunesh Yilmaz was arrested while trying to cross the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border on June 6.

Yilmaz, a former employee of the Beta Stores hypermarket in Bishkek, fled Kyrgyzstan after assault charges were brought against him by a colleague.

Toktaliev said the Kazakh court will determine whether to return Yilmaz to Kyrgyzstan or to extradite him to Turkey.

Yilmaz was accused in April of beating fellow store employee Cholpon Oruzbaeva. A Bishkek court ruled he should be jailed for two months, but that decision was overruled by a Bishkek city court, which granted Yilmaz's release on bail under the condition that he stay in the country.

Kyrgyz youth organizations held two protests calling for the prosecution of Yilmaz and the closure of the hypermarket.

Protesters tore down the Turkish flag at one of the demonstrations. The Beta Stores are Turkish-owned.

The leader of the Social Democratic Party, Chanybay Tursunbekov, told RFE/RL that he does not rule out the possibility that the protests were initiated by political forces.