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Rally To Express Support For Jailed Rights Advocate

Kazakh rights activist Viktor Kovtunovsky

Kazakh rights activist Viktor Kovtunovsky

ALMATY -- A rally has been held in Almaty in support of Kazakhstan's leading human rights activist, who was recently jailed, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Last week, Yevgenyy Zhovtis, the director of the Kazakh nongovernmental organization Bureau on Human Rights, was sentenced to four years in jail for his role in a fatal traffic accident.

Kazakh rights activist Viktor Kovtunovsky appeared on Almaty's central square and unfolded a sign saying, "Today -- Zhovtis, Tomorrow -- You!"

A representative of the Almaty City Prosecutor's Office told Kovtunovsky that his protest was violating Kazakh laws on public gatherings.

Kovtunovsky continued his action. Several other activists then joined Kovtunovsky in his picket.

International human rights groups say the case against Zhovtis was an effort to silence him for his professional activities.

Zhovtis had made a presentation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna that was critical of the human rights situation in Kazakhstan shortly before the traffic accident.