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Turkmenistan Bars Kazakh Activist From Leaving Country

ASHGABAT -- A prominent leader of the ethnic Kazakh community in Turkmenistan has been prevented from leaving Ashgabat to make a visit to Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Bisengul Begdesinov, 56, told RFE/RL today that on December 2 Turkmen border guards did not allow him to board a plane from Ashgabat to Almaty, saying that the Prosecutor-General's Office had barred him from leaving the country.

In May, Ashgabat's Kopetdag district court found Begdesinov guilty of fraud and bribery in dealing with ethnic Kazakhs intending to move to neighboring Kazakhstan. The court gave Begdesinov a suspended sentence of five years in jail.

He left the courtroom a free man but was obliged to register with and regularly report to Ashgabat's parole officers.

Begdesinov told RFE/RL that Turkmen law allows individuals with suspended sentences to leave the country for short periods of time. He said the decision to bar him from visiting other countries might be an attempt to officially register a parole violation.

There were some 90,000 ethnic Kazakhs living in Turkmenistan in 1995. Thousands have since left the country for Kazakhstan in a repatriation process promoted by the Kazakh government.

Read more in Kazakh here

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