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Son Of Ex-Kyrgyz Envoy Under House Arrest In U.S. For Arms Smuggling

BISHKEK -- A U.S. court has ordered the son of a former Kyrgyz ambassador to Washington to be placed under house arrest on charges including firearms trafficking and smuggling, Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry says.

In a statement on March 2, the ministry said that 28-year-old Kyrgyz citizen Tengiz Sydykov was placed under house arrest at a court hearing the previous day.

Zamira Sydykova, a well-known journalist who was Kyrgyzstan's ambassador to Washington from 2005-10, said on March 1 that Sydykov is her son and that he lives in the Washington metropolitan area.

U.S. federal prosecutors say that Sydykov and another suspect, Eldar Rezvanov, were arrested on February 27. Describing the men as citizens of Kyrgyzstan residing in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C., the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia alleged that they bought more than 100 disassembled firearms and attempted to ship them to Russia's Chechnya region without a license.

Sydykov and Rezvanov, 27, were charged with violating the Arms Export Control Act, which regulates foreign military sales and commercial sales of defense articles, conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, bank fraud, and money laundering, it said. If convicted, the two face up to 20 years in prison.

Sydykova contends that her son has been wrongly accused as the result of a "misunderstanding."

She said that police detained Rezvanov, whom she described as her son's former roommate, after searching his home.

"When my son came to the police station to find out why his former roommate was arrested, he was detained as well. I hope that this misunderstanding will be cleared up soon," Sydykova said.

Sydykova said that her son works for an IT company.

She also said that Rezvanov is a Kazakh citizen, contradicting the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A court in Alexandria, Virginia, told RFE/RL on March 1 that Rezvanov remained in a detention facility.

With reporting by Kaktus and Interfax