Ukraine frees ex-Tajik PM, rejects extradition request

Ukraine on Thursday freed Tajikistan's former prime minister Abdumalik Abdullajanov from detention and refused a request to extradite him to his homeland where he is accused of attempting to stage a coup against the president.

"The prosecutor's office of the Kiev region decided to free him from the detention centre," his lawyer Andrey Fedur told the Interfax news agency.

"The Ukrainian side will not extradite Abdullajanov," the Ukrainian prosecutor-general's press service told Interfax.

Tajikistan had sought his extradition, accusing him of trying to stage a coup against President Emomali Rakhmon in the late 1990s during an army mutiny.

In March the United Nations refugee agency warned Ukraine that extraditing Abdullajanov to Tajikistan would break international law because he had been granted political asylum in the United States and urged his release.

Abdullajanov, who has lived in the United States for 16 years, was detained in February at Kiev airport as he arrived in Ukraine on a private visit.

Abdullajanov was prime minister in the impoverished ex-Soviet country from 1992-1993 and in 1994 unsuccessfully stood in elections against Rakhmon.

Rakhmon, who has headed the Central Asian state since 1992, is up for re-election in polls expected in November this year.