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U.S. Arrests Son Of Kyrgyz Ex-Ambassador On Gun-Smuggling Charges

Zamira Sydykova was the ambassador to Washington from 2005 to 2010.

The United States has arrested the son of a former Kyrgyz ambassador to Washington on charges including firearms trafficking and smuggling.

Zamira Sydykova said on March 1 that her son, Tengiz Sydykov, who lives in the Washington metropolitan area, is wrongly accused of trying to smuggle firearms to Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya.

Sydykova, who was the Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States in 2005-2010, is a well-known journalist in Kyrgyzstan.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said that her son and another suspect in the case, Eldar Rezvanov, were arrested on February 27.

Describing the two men as citizens of Kyrgyzstan residing in Alexandria, a statement said that they purchased more than 100 disassembled firearms and attempted to ship them to Chechnya without a license.

Sydykov, 28, and Rezvanov, 27, were charged with violating the Arms Export Control Act, which regulates foreign military sales and commercial sales of defense articles, conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, bank fraud, and money laundering, it said.

Sydykova said that police detained Rezvanov, whom she described as her son's former roommate, after searching his home.

"When my son came to the police station to find out why his former roommate was arrested, he was detained as well. I hope that this misunderstanding will be cleared soon," Sydykova said.

Sydykova said that her son works for an IT company.

She also said that Rezvanov is a Kazakh citizen, contradicting the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry said on March 1 that it was checking the citizenships of the suspects.

If convicted, the two face up to 20 years in prison.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Kaktus, and Interfax