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Kazakh Border Guard Charged In Slayings


A file photo of a Kazakh border post.
A file photo of a Kazakh border post.
ASTANA -- A spokesman for the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office says a border guard has been charged with murder over the killings of 14 fellow border guards and a forest ranger.

Nurdaulet Suindikov told reporters on June 7 that Private Vladislav Chelakh, 19, has confessed to the killings, which occurred last week at a remote outpost in Kazakhstan's southeast, along the Kazakh-Chinese border.

"During interrogations in the presence of a lawyer, Chelakh has confessed to killing his colleagues and Ruslan Kim," the forest ranger, Suindikov said.

"According to Chelakh, internal conflicts and an unexplained insanity that struck him led to the crime he committed. Chelakh denies any involvement of other people in the crime."

Suindikov said the 15 men were killed early on May 28 in the morning, while most of them were sleeping.

"According to Chelakh's testimony, the chronology of the killings was this: first a night-watch soldier was killed at his post outside the checkpoint," Suindikov said.

"Then Chelakh returned to the barracks and shot his colleagues dead there, nine of whom were sleeping. The forest ranger Ruslan Kim was killed last."

Suindikov added that Chelakh had told investigators that even after killing his colleagues, he repeatedly fired from different angles before setting the outpost ablaze.

Confession Questioned

Observers in Kazakhstan have expressed doubts that a 19-year-old soldier could have shot so many people alone and in cold blood before attempting a meticulous cover-up.

A newsreader for the popular Almaty-based Channel 31 television channel, Vladislav Dlinnov, has resigned after he refused to broadcast an initial report about Chelakh's alleged confession on June 6.

Chelakh's relatives say they believe he is innocent. His mother, Svetlana Chelakh, told RFE/RL that it was very likely that his confession -- if there was one indeed -- had been obtained by force.

"I do not know to what extent it is true that he confessed or not, I think he was forced to do so," she said. "I will never believe that my child could do that. He is the kindest child. He has never had any sort of psychological problems, absolutely nothing like that."

Suindikov also said at the press conference on June 7 that Aleksei Fomin, the officer responsible for the remote Sary Bokter border post, has been arrested and charged with failure to report that communication had been severed between his station's headquarters and the outpost between May 28 and May 30.

Investigators found the outpost destroyed by fire on May 30. Chelakh, the 15th border guard who had been missing after the incident, was found alive on June 5.
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