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Former Turkmen Parliament Speaker Reportedly Released from Prison

Ovezgeldy Atayev (left) and President Berdymukhammedov in Ashgabat (file photo)
A human rights website has reported that Turkmenistan's former speaker of parliament, Ovezgeldy Atayev, and his wife have been released from custody.

The Vienna-based "Khronika Turkmenistana" said the news was announced by Turkmenistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hadjiev during United Nations Human Rights Committee hearings on Turkmenistan last week.

No other confirmation of the alleged release was available.

The Atayevs have been serving prison terms on domestic abuse charges, allegedly for driving their daughter-in-law to attempt suicide.

Ovezgeldy Atayev had been expected to take over as acting Turkmen president -- as per the constitution -- following the death of longtime ruler Saparmurat Niyazov in December 2006.

But Atayev was arrested shortly after Niyazov's death and the constitution was abruptly amended, clearing the way for current President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to become acting president.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service