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Prominent Kazakh Actor Who Criticized Culture Minister Convicted

Tungyshbai Zhamanqulov speaks to reporters after his trial in Almaty on June 1.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan has convicted prominent actor-director Tunghyshbai Zhamanqulov and handed him a suspended sentence in a politically charged embezzlement case.

On June 1, the court in Almaty found Zhamanqulov guilty of "misuse or embezzlement" of state budget funds allocated to shoot a film. He was given a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence, fined 3.4 million tenges ($10,850), and barred from holding posts at state organizations for five years.

Several co-defendants also received suspended sentences.

Zhamanqulov had pleaded not guilty.

He was detained on November 2 and charged with embezzling some 70 million tenges ($223,000).

Zhamanqulov's detention came weeks after he publicly alleged that Culture Minister Arystanbek Mukhamediuly was involved in corruption. He also supported several women who had accused Mukhamediuly of sexual harassment, allegations rejected by the minister.

Zhamanqulov, 68, starred in 33 films and became well-known by playing a main character in the popular satire show Tamasha in the 1970s.

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