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Tajik Opposition Leader Goes On Trial

Tajik opposition figure and businessman Zayd Saidov (file photo)
DUSHANBE -- A leading Tajik opposition figure and businessman has gone on trial in Dushanbe.

Zayd Saidov, a lawmaker and the leader of Tajikistan's unregistered New Tajikistan party, was arrested in May and charged with bribe-taking, abuse of office, financial fraud, extortion, polygamy, and sexual relations with a minor, among other charges.

Saidov denies any wrongdoing and says his case is politically motivated.

He said earlier this year at a court hearing that he believes he is being persecuted for his decision to set up his political party.

Presenting his party's program in April, Saidov harshly criticized the government for "inefficient reforms, pressure on small- and medium-sized businesses, exorbitant prices, and widespread corruption."

Saidov's relatives were not allowed to be present at the trial, which is being held behind closed doors.