Kazakhstan's parliament has voted to grant an amnesty to 16,000 prison inmates to mark the 20th anniversary of the country's secession from the Soviet Union on December 16.
The bill, overwhelmingly approved by the Mazhilis, or lower chamber, was sent to the Senate, the parliament's upper house, which is also expected to back it before it is sent to President Nursultan Nazarbaev for signing.
Kazakhstan's total prison population is currently over 45,800 people, with another 6,605 people in pre-trial detention centres, according to Interior Ministry data.
Deputy Justice Minister Amirkhan Amanbaev said in parliament that under the bill, those sentenced to up to five years in jail as well as juvenile offenders, women with children, and some others are to be amnestied.
The amnesty would also cover those in pre-trial detention.