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Journalist Known For Criticism Of Kazakh Government Goes On Trial

Kazakh Journalist's Trial Begins In Almaty
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ALMATY -- A Kazakh journalist known for his criticism of the government has gone on trial for alleged money laundering, a charge he and his supporters say is fabricated.

The trial of Zhanbolat Mamai, acting chief editor of the independent Sayasi Qalam-Tribuna (The Political Pen-Tribune) newspaper, opened in Almaty on August 14.

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

Mamai denies any connection with Ablyazov and says the case against him is 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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