Tajik president's opponent shot dead in Istanbul

By bne IntelliNews March 6, 2015

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Tajik tycoon Umarali Quvvatov, one of President Emomali Rahmon's main critics, was shot dead on an Istanbul street on the night of March 5.

The Haberler.com website reported that Quvvatov was killed at 22:30 local time in Istanbul's Fatih district. According to the website, Quvvatov had a dinner with a guest at his home and was shot dead by an unidentified person when he went out onto the street.

Quvvatov, a businessman and one-time associate of the president's son-in-law Shamsullo Sohibov, had been living abroad since 2012, when he left the country first for Russia then for the United Arab Emirates. Tajikistan requested his extradition from the UAE in 2012 on suspicion of committing fraud, and he was detained in Dubai and spent 10 months in prison in 2013, but was not extradited to Tajikistan. UAE law does not allow extradition to a country where a defendant can be tortured or killed.

After that Quvvatov moved to Turkey where he was jailed in December 2014 for violating visa rules, according to the Centrasia.ru website. He was released on February 4.

Together with Sohibov, Quvvatov had been involved in supplying fuel and lubricants to Nato forces in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012, but a conflict with his partner forced him to leave the country.

In 2012 he set up the Group 24 opposition movement, which the Supreme Court of Tajikistan labelled as "extremist" and banned its activities in the country in October. The movement called for large-scale protests against the Tajik authorities on social media. Quvvatov was also accused of fraud, kidnapping and misappropriation of property.

On March 4 a court in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, sentenced a member of Group 24, Umedjon Salihov, to 17.5 years in prison on charges of extremism and insulting the president, according to Interfax news agency.

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