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Ukraine Holds Kazakh Blogger Who Fled To Kyiv

Kazakh blogger Zhanar Akhmet (file photo)

A Kazakh blogger who fled to Ukraine after criticizing President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government has been ordered held in custody amid fears she could be extradited, her lawyer says.

Zhanar Akhmet was detained in Kyiv on October 21, based on a Kazakh arrest warrant that accuses her of fraud, and was ordered held for 18 days on October 24, attorney Vladyslav Hryshchenko said.

Hryshchenko said that Akhmet announced a hunger strike after the Kyivo-Svyatoshyn District Court ruling was pronounced.

Kyiv regional police spokesman Mykola Zhukovych said earlier that Akhmet might be placed under arrest while Ukrainian authorities consider Kazakhstan's request for her extradition.

Akhmet fled Kazakhstan in March with her 9-year-old son, saying she feared for her safety if she remained in the Central Asian country.

Akhmet told RFE/RL she decided to flee when she learned from sources that she could face charges of "organizing an illegal group" that uses the Internet to advocate self-immolation.

Akhmet previously faced a series of court hearings in Almaty for alleged legal violations, including jaywalking, that she considered to be harassment by Kazakh authorities.

She says all of the accusations against her have been politically motivated retaliation for her writing.

At least four other Kazakh opposition and rights activists -- Ermek Narymbaev, Moldir Adilova, Aidos Sadyqov, and Natalya Sadyqova -- have also fled to Ukraine in recent years.

Nazarbaev, 77, has held power in Kazakhstan since before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He has established tight control over politics and the media and tolerates little dissent in the oil-producing former Soviet republic of some 18 million.

Based on reporting by Hromadske and UNIAN