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Kazakhstan says dissident banker held in France

PARIS (AP) -- The Kazakh prosecutor says a dissident businessman accused of embezzling billions of dollars from the country's BTA Bank has been arrested in France.

In a statement from the capital, Astana, the prosecutor said Thursday that Interpol informed Kazakhstan of the arrest of Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Ablyazov has opposed Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled since before the Soviet collapse.

After setting up a pro-reform party in 2001, Ablyazov was sentenced to six years for abuse of public office during a stint as energy minister. Ablyazov then funneled money to the opposition despite promises to stay out of politics when he was pardoned in 2003.

Ablyazov denies wrongdoing and says the allegations are politically motivated. The sudden deportation of his wife and daughter from Italy last month caused a political crisis.