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Kazakh Activists Gather Ahead Of Journalism Day

ALMATY -- Hundreds of activists in Kazakhstan have held a public gathering in Almaty to challenge a government decision to ban mass gatherings on Journalism Day, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Opposition Azat party head Bolat Abilov, journalists from nonstate periodicals, human rights activists, and their supporters held the gathering in Kazakhstan's largest city to protest pressure faced by opposition and independent journalists in Kazakhstan.

Abilov said at the gathering that the government's decision to ban demonstrations on Journalism Day, marked on the last Sunday in June, is further proof of the extent to which free and open journalism is important for the country and the extent that authorities fear independent media.

If we remain silent, Abilov said, soon there will be nothing to read and watch in the country aside from state-run periodicals and TV channels.