Kazakh Rights Defender Released On Parole After 6 1/2 Years In Prison

Kazakh human rights activist Vadim Kuramshin has been released on parole after serving more than 6 1/2 years in prison on extortion charges that his supporters say were politically motivated.

Kuramshin's mother, Olga Koltunova, told RFE/RL that her son was released on August 17 from a penal colony in Kazakhstan's northeastern city of Oskemen.

A court in Oskemen granted Kuramshin the early release on August 1, saying he would be released after 15 days if the ruling was not appealed and overturned.

Kuramshin has become known for his efforts to raise awareness of violations of inmates' rights in Kazakh prisons, including the one where he served his term.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012 on an extortion conviction. He denies wrongdoing.

In December 2013, while behind bars, Kuramshin was awarded the prestigious Ludovic-Trarieux international human rights prize.

The first Ludovic-Trarieux prize was awarded to South Africa's Nelson Mandela in 1985 while he was imprisoned.