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ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Almaty's Medeu District Court today began hearings in a libel complaint against opposition politician Zhasaral Quanyshalin, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Quanyshalin, a former parliamentary deputy and longtime critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, announced last month he planned to run for president in the 2012 elections.

Quanyshalin, who chairs a group called Long Live Liberty, told journalists in Almaty today that Qozhanazar Seitkerim, a resident of the town of Qaskelen near Almaty, filed the libel lawsuit demanding 50,000 tenges ($340) compensation for moral damages.

Seitkerim is demanding compensation and apologies from Quanyshalin for his article titled "Laws Do Not Apply To Nazarbaev" that was printed in the weekly "Epokha" more than four years ago.

In 2006, Quanyshalin was sentenced to two years in jail in a similar case also initiated by Seitkerim, who demanded that Quanyshalin be punished for his lawsuit against Nazarbaev.

On that occasion, Quanyshalin was amnestied immediately after the verdict was pronounced.

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