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Politicians, Journalists Call For Kazakhstan To Quit Customs Union

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

ASTANA -- Kazakh opposition parties, nongovernmental organizations, and both pro-government and opposition journalists have urged the country's leaders to quit the CIS Customs Union that unites Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Some 175 people signed an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev, the prime minister, and the chairmen of both parliament chambers that was posted on many Kazakh websites today. Sixty political parties and groups have expressed support for the initiative.

The authors expressed concern that membership of the Customs Union means "the beginning of the end of Kazakhstan's independence."

They argue that plans for the further development of the Customs Union contradict Kazakhstan's national, economic, and strategic interests.

They warned that if their demand is not met, they will stage mass actions of civil disobedience and demand the immediate resignation of Kazakhstan's leadership and early presidential and parliamentary elections.

The leaders of the customs union, also known as the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), have agreed to establish a common economic space in 2010.

Uzbekistan has already suspended its membership in the Customs Union.