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Altynbek Sarsenbaev spoke to journalists on 15 January (RFE/RL)
ALMATY, 13 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A prominent Kazakh opposition member was found dead today in Kazakhstan's commercial capital, Almaty, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.
The leader of the Kazakh opposition group For a Just Kazakhstan, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, tells RFE/RL that his political ally, Altynbek Sarsenbaev, was found shot dead along with his bodyguard and driver. Their bodies were found in a car on Almaty's outskirts.
Sarsenbaev was reported missing on 11 February.
Sarsenbaev was a co-chairman of the True Ak Zhol opposition party. He previously served as Kazakhstan's ambassador to Russia, and twice served as the head of Kazakhstan's Information Ministry.
He's the second prominent Kazakh opposition figure to be found shot dead in recent months. On 12 November 2005, Zamanbek Nurkadilov was found shot dead in his Almaty apartment. He was a former mayor of Almaty and government minister before joining the opposition and accusing the government of corruption.
(with material from Interfax, Kazakhstan Today)
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev addressomg a rally of supporters on the day following the December 4 vote (epa)
DANGEROUS TO BE IN THE OPPOSITION: On December 8, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a discussion of the December 4 presidential election in Kazkhstan. RFE/RL Kazakh Service Director MERHAT SHARIPZHAN and RFE/RL Central Asia Analyst DANIEL KIMMAGE participated in the discussion.
Sharipzhan highlighted the difficulties faced by opposition candidates -- including the untimely deaths of prominent opposition leaders -- and argued that they effectively chilled the political environment in the country. He also noted that the government repeatedly confiscated opposition newspapers during the campaign. However, he noted that Kazakhstan's relatively strong economy boosted Nazarbaev's popularity. Kimmage discussed Nazarbaev's pledge to proceed with democratization only after the economy is put in order, describing the political system in Kazakhstan as a form of "managed democracy."
Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 90 minutes):
RFE/RL's complete coverage and background of Kazakhstan's presidential election on December 4, 2005.