Political victim in Turkmenistan urgently needs medical treatment

A Turkmen prisoner who is believed to be a victim of political purges by the Central Asian nation's late autocratic president is in urgent need of medical treatment, an international human rights group said.

Geldy Kyarizov, a renowned horse breeder, is severely malnourished and weak and may be "in grave danger if he does not receive adequate treatment immediately," Amnesty International said in a statement late Thursday.

Kyarizov, 56, was arrested in 2002 and reportedly tortured by electric shocks to his genitals before being sentenced to six years in prison for alleged abuse of office and negligence following an unfair trial, the London-based group said.

While in prison he had two heart attacks and a stroke and suffered from pneumonia, but was denied appropriate medical treatment, the group said.

Kyarizov's wife Yulia Serebryannik visited him on Monday in the Turkmenabad prison in the eastern Lebap region, according to Amnesty. She told a relative "he is a skeleton with skin, his weight now is 45-50 kilograms (99-110 pounds). He is like a walking dead body."

The rights group said that Kyarizov was likely caught up in regular politically motivated purges of senior government officials that were carried out by Niyazov, who died on Dec. 21 after ruling the ex-Soviet republic for 21-years, the AP reports.

Kyarizov is a former director of the State Association Turkmenatlary and a renowned breeder of famed Akhalteke horses.

Under Niyazov, natural gas-rich Turkmenistan was largely cut off from the world, with political opposition and independent media quashed.

Acting President Gurnabguli Berdymukhamedov, who is expected to assume full office after elections scheduled for Feb. 11, has said he would follow Niyazov's course.

On Wednesday, yielding apparently to international pressure, Turkmen authorities released environmentalist Andrei Zatoka who had been arrested days before Niyazov's death.

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