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Mourners gathered in Almaty today to remember Sarsenbaev (RFE/RL)
15 February 2006 -- Mourners at the funeral of a prominent Kazakh oppositionist today accused Kazakh authorities of orchestrating his death.
The funeral for opposition figure Altynbek Sarsenbayev was held in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty. It drew impassioned speeches by opposition activists who gathered to pay their last respects.
Sarsenbaev was a co-chairman of the Nagyz Ak Zhol party. He was found shot dead along with his bodyguard and driver on Almaty's outskirts on 13 February.
Nagyz Ak Zhol and For a Just Kazakhstan representatives have accused the Kazakh authorities of being behind the slayings.
Officials say they are investigating the deaths.
Sarsenbaev formerly served as Kazakhstan's ambassador to Russia and twice served as head of the Kazakh Information Ministry before joining the opposition.
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.