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Nazarbaev Aide Denies Crackdown --> President Nazarbaev Washington, 12 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A top aide to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has denied charges of a government crackdown against the political opposition in Kazakhstan, saying the government is instead committed to reforms.

Presidential adviser Karim Massimov yesterday also invited international groups to monitor the country's presidential election campaign to assure its legitimacy.

"[Nazarbaev's] popularity within the country is so high at this stage that free and fair elections, this is in his favor. It's very difficult to beat him on free and fair election, but sometimes it's much easier to [charge] that election was not free and fair," Massimov said.

Massimov was speaking in Washington to a group of diplomats and oil experts. He said the government was committed to holding presidential election in December 2006, but that opposition forces are "pushing very hard" for elections to be held in December of this year. Some opposition figures say the opposite is true.