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Tajik Wanted For Murder, Kidnapping Arrested In Russia

CHELYABINSK, Russia -- A Tajik citizen who is wanted in Tajikistan for alleged involvement in terrorist activities has been arrested in Russia's Chelyabinsk Oblast, RFE/RL's Russian and Tajik services reports.

Abdulvosit Latipov has been living in Russia under another name since 2004.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) identified him as the leader of a terrorist group that organized and carried out 25 terrorist acts that killed 43 people.

The FSB said those killed include 19 Russian military officers based in Tajikistan in different attacks in the 1990s and Prosecutor-General Nurullo Huvaidulloev in 1992.

Mahmadulo Asadulloev, a spokesman for Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry, today confirmed Latipov's arrest and told RFE/RL that Dushanbe was awaiting his extradition to face charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery, and other serious crimes.

The FSB also said Latipov served as a bodyguard to Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda, a leader of the Islamic opposition that fought government forces during the 1992-97 Tajik civil war.

But Turajonzoda told RFE/RL that Latipov and his followers were fighters of the United Tajik Opposition and not criminals.

Turajonzoda added that Latipov and 5,000 other UTO fighters were amnestied by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in May 1999 and should therefore be exempt from prosecution.

Turajonzoda recalled that several months ago Yusuf Jalilov, another former UTO fighter who was also named as his bodyguard, was arrested in Russia and extradited to Tajikistan. After two trials, Jalilov was released.

Turajonzoda, who remains a prominent public figure in Tajikistan, said he believes the Latipov case represents another campaign against him following his criticism of the current government.