Tajik opposition party says its leader is missing in Moscow

A Tajik opposition leader is missing days after being freed in Moscow by Russian police who had held him at Tajik authorities' request, his party said Wednesday.

The Democratic Party said in a statement that its leader, Makhmadruzi Iskandarov, has been missing since Friday and urged Russian authorities and international organizations to help find him.

Tajik authorities, who have sought Iskandarov's extradition to charge him with attempting to overthrow the government, banditry and terrorism, criticized Russia for releasing him on April 4 - nearly four months after his arrest.

The party claimed the charges were an effort by autocratic President Emomali Rakhmonov to eliminate his political rivals.

Deputy party leader Rahmatullo Valiyev said Iskandarov was last seen by his neighbor on Friday near his home in Moscow. Valiyev said the neighbor told him that he had noticed a police car outside the house just before he disappeared.

Iskandarov, 50, was a prominent field commander who fought against the Moscow-backed government during the country's five-year civil war in the 1990s.

Rakhmonov has led this impoverished Central Asian nation since 1994. In recent years he jailed several former loyalists and opposition leaders.


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