Rome

Bonino says Italy won't risk Astana relations

Protecting dissident family a priority, says bonino

Bonino says Italy won't risk Astana relations

(see related stories) Rome, July 24 - Protecting a Kazakh dissident's family is a priority but Italy won't take measures that will damage its relations with the energy-rich state, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said Wednesday. ''Our interventions are...continuous, relentless and will continue as long as necessary,'' Bonino told the House and Senate foreign affairs committees on a controversial deportation. She also condemned measures taken by the Kazakh ambassador in Rome as ''intrusive'' and ''unacceptable''. However, she said "actions and reactions that would weaken our diplomatic structure with Astana must be avoided". It had been earlier suggested that Italy was considering expelling the Kazakh ambassador to applying pressure at the interior ministry in Rome over the case rather than going through the proper channels at the foreign ministry. A national scandal erupted after Kazakh oligarch and dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov's wife Alma Shalabayeva and their six-year-old daughter were seized in a nighttime raid in May. The pair were hustled onto a private jet with Kazakh diplomats and flown back to a country whose human-rights record has been questioned by several organisations. Italy has since repealed her expulsion order, but the Kazakh government has said Shalabayeva is under investigation regarding possible bribes paid to immigration and justice officials to create false passports for herself and her daughter. Kazakhstan has said that Shalabayeva and her daughter could be returned to Italy if appropriate financial guarantees were put in place.

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