France drops legal probe against Kazakh opposition figure

PARIS, France: France has dropped an embezzlement probe against a leading Paris-based Kazakh opposition figure who called for the overthrow of the Central Asian country’s regime during protests this month. The probe against Mukhtar Ablyazov has been abandoned by a Paris appeals court due to the statute of limitations, his lawyer Karim Beylouni said, hailing a “very good victory.” In a statement issued through his representative, Ablyazov added: “I am relieved by this decision, which finally gives me the opportunity to devote all my energy to my political fight for freedom and democracy in my country.” Kazakhstan, which accuses Ablyazov of having embezzled $7.5 billion when he was chief executive of the BTA bank ahead of its nationalization in 2009, had filed a complaint against him in Paris in 2017. He was charged with money laundering in 2020 but allowed to remain free, living in Paris where he leads opposition party The Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan.