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Goethe Medal For Kazakh Activist Charged Over Clashes

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Bolat Atabaev

Bolat Atabaev

A theater director and pro-reform activist who faces charges of "inciting social hatred" in his native Kazakhstan has been awarded the Goethe Medal from Germany’s Goethe Institute.

The prize, an official German decoration honoring non-Germans, recognizes Bolat Atabaev's contributions to cooperation between German and Kazakh theater.

The Goethe Institute said Atabaev was scheduled to be given the prize in Weimar, Germany, on August 28.

It is not clear that Atabaev will be able to attend the ceremony, as he has been charged with "inciting social hatred" in connection with a December clash that killed at least 16 people in the western Kazakh town of Zhanaozen.

Detainees since the bloodshed have included other activists, and locals report sweeps searching for people who contributed video images or other clues outside official channels to the events of December 17.

Atabaev is a member of a public commission that was formed by several activists to investigate the Zhanaozen clashes.