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A Kazakh court has handed out jail sentences to two civil rights activists after finding them guilty of "inciting social hatred."

The court in Almaty sentenced Serikzhan Mambetalin and Ermek Narymbaev to two and three years in prison, respectively, on January 22.

Both Mambetalin and Narymbaev pleaded not guilty, saying the charges against them were politically motivated.

The activists were arrested in mid-October after investigators accused them of posting materials "inciting social hatred" on Facebook.

Mambetalin and Narymbaev insist the Facebook posts were quotes from a book that is freely accessible on the Internet.

The activists have been known for their criticism of the Kazakh government.

In 2010, Narymbaev was sentenced to four years after he was arrested at a protest rally urging Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev to resign.

He was amnestied in 2012 after spending more than 1 1/2 years in jail on charges of resisting authority.

Russia's Justice Ministry has submitted draft changes to the country's controversial law on "foreign agents" that are intended to define more specifically what the phrase "political activities" means.

Under the 2012 law, nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in political activities must register with the government as "foreign agents."

The legislature's online resource for draft laws published a description on January 22 saying that the bill would define "political activities" as holding public gatherings or rallies, issuing public appeals to state authorities, issuing public assessments of official decisions, issuing assessments of elections or their outcomes, or the distribution of such assessments by any means.

Under the changes, an NGO is engaged in political activity if it tries "to influence the development or implementation of state policy or the formation of state bodies and local self-government organs." Monitoring elections or calling for referendums are also listed as political activities.

Activities in the areas of science, culture, art, health care, sports, and social aid are specifically defined as nonpolitical activities.

The Duma must now consider and vote on the proposed amendments.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax

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