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EU Urges Kazakhstan To Release Two Land-Reform Protesters

  • RFE/RL

Maks Boqaev in a court in Atyrau in June

Maks Boqaev in a court in Atyrau in June

The European Union is urging Kazakh authorities to release from prison two men who participated in a mass protest against land reforms.

A court in the western Kazakh city of Atyrau sentenced Talghat Ayan and Maks Boqaev to five years in jail each on November 28 after finding them guilty of inciting social unrest, spreading false information, and violating the law on public gatherings.

In a November 30 statement, a spokesperson for the EU’s diplomatic service said that their imprisonment "contravenes Kazakhstan's commitments under international law on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly."

A statement called on Astana "to ensure that the freedoms of speech and of assembly are protected."

Ayan and Boqaev have insisted that their case is politically motivated.

They were detained in April in the center of Atyrau, where thousands of people had gathered to protest against a bill on land privatization and land leasing to foreigners.

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