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LEADER OF TAJIKISTAN'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY MAY HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED, HIS LAWYER SAYS

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MOSCOW, April 20 (RIA Novosti) - Makhmadruzi Iskandarov, leader of Tajikistan's Democratic Party, may have been kidnapped, his lawyer, Anna Stavitskaya, says.

The Tajik politician went missing last Friday and the members of his family still have no idea of his whereabouts. They are going to report the case to the police Thursday or Friday, Stavitskaya said.

Iskandarov's latest place of residence has been in the Moscow region. A source in regional law-enforcement agencies told RIA that local police had already launched a search operation for the man.

Iskandarov was detained in Moscow on December 9, 2004, on the Tajik Prosecutor General's request. But Russian authorities stopped short of extraditing the politician to Tajikistan and eventually released him from jail.

The Tajik Prosecutor General's Office has charged Iskandarov with crimes punishable under five articles of the republican Penal Code, including banditry and terrorism.

Iskandarov was reelected as leader of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan on December 18 last year, despite his staying in a detention center in Moscow at that time.

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