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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2005, 12:32 GMT
Kazakh leader's critic found dead
An outspoken critic of the president of Kazakhstan has been found dead at his home in the former capital, Almaty.

The lawyer for Zamanbek Nurkadilov, 61, said his client was shot three times but police have refused to comment before an autopsy is carried out.

The former government minister was sacked after calling for President Nursultan Nazarbayev to resign.

President Nazarbayev has expressed his condolences and ordered an official investigation into the death.

Mr Nurkadilov had backed a rival of Mr Nazarbayev for the presidential election on 4 December.

'Authoritarian'

Mr Nurkadilov's lawyer said his client, a former key ally of the president, was shot twice in the chest and once in the head on Saturday evening.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
President Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan since 1989
The police said CCTV footage showed there had been no intruders.

An opposition leader, Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, said: "Knowing Nurkadilov's political position and his forthright manner to express his views, we cannot exclude that his murder was politically motivated."

Mr Nurkadilov lost his job last year after accusing Mr Nazarbayev of authoritarianism and calling for him to quit.

Earlier this year, he was convicted of slandering the president after he alleged that Mr Nazarbayev was responsible for the death of a journalist.

Mr Nurkadilov was backing the candidate of the opposition movement For A Just Kazakhstan, Zharmakhan Tuyakba, in the election.

Mr Nurkadilov had earlier compared the president to Romania's ousted dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.

President Nazarbayev has ruled the central Asian nation since 1989 and analysts say he is widely expected to win a new seven-year term.


SEE ALSO:
Kazakh opposition faces tough fight
25 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Kazakh election set for December
19 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Kazakhs 'not ready for democracy'
14 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Kazakhstan
09 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Kazakhstan
26 Oct 04 |  Country profiles


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