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Municipal authorities in Moscow have rejected an application by the liberal Yabloko party to hold a public demonstration to call for the removal of Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov.

The party made the announcement on its website on January 22, saying that instead it will hold rotating one-person pickets outside the Russian presidential administration building beginning at noon on January 26.

"Our picket will demand from Kadyrov an apology and from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, Kadyrov's dismissal," Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin was quoted as saying.

Public demonstrations of more than one person in Russia must be approved in advance by the authorities.

The controversial Chechen leader, who has been widely accused of massive human rights abuses and corruption, made headlines earlier this month when he called all those who oppose Putin "traitors" and "enemies of the people."

Those comments provoked calls for Kadyrov's resignation. In response, authorities in Chechnya on January 22 held a massive rally during which hundreds of thousands of people expressed support for Kadyrov and underscored his attacks on Russian liberals and anti-Putin activists.

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.

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