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Kazakh Journalist Arrested On Money-Laundering Charges

Kazakh activist and journalist Zhanbolat Mamai appears in court in Almaty on February 11.

ALMATY -- The acting chief editor of an independent Kazakh newspaper has been arrested on money-laundering charges.

The Almaty-based Adil Soz nongovernment organization said on February 13 that Zhanbolat Mamai was ordered put in pretrial detention over the weekend for two months.

Mamai's newspaper, The Sayasi Qalam -- Tribuna (The Political Pen -- Tribune), is known for articles critical of the Kazakh government.

Investigators say Mamai was involved in laundering money "stolen" by fugitive Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Mamai denied any connection with Ablyazov and said the case against him was politically motivated.

Ablyazov, a former head of Kazakhstan's BTA bank who is currently living abroad, is a major opponent of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

He is wanted by Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine on suspicion of embezzling some $5 billion. Ablyazov denies the accusations, saying they are politically motivated.

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