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Exiled Kazakh Government Critic Says His Brother Arrested In Attempt To Pressure Him

Barlyq Mendighaziev appears in court in 2013.

An outspoken, U.S.-based critic of the Kazakh government, Barlyq Mendyghaziev, says the local authorities have arrested his brother on embezzlement and tax-evasion charges in a move to clamp down on his activities.

Mendyghaziev told RFE/RL on June 7 that his brother was arrested in the western city of Oral last week and sent to pretrial detention in the city of Atyrau for two months.

"I consider my brother's arrest as a way to put pressure on me," Mendyghaziev told RFE/RL by phone, adding that all charges against his brother, Bekizhan Mendyghaziev, were politically motivated.

Bekizhan Mendyghaziev's lawyer, Ivan Vranchayev, confirmed to RFE/RL that the court over the weekend ordered his client confined to pretrial detention.

Court officials refused to provide any details on the case, telling RFE/RL that an investigation was under way.

The Economic Investigations Department in Atyrau also refused to comment on the case, citing investigatory privilege.

The 52-year-old Mendyghaziev has been known for his harsh criticism of the Kazakh government.

He moved to the United States last year after a probe was launched against him and his Karachaganak Support Service company. Three of his associates have been convicted of tax evasion in recent weeks, which Mendyghaziev considers to be retaliation for his political activities.

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