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Turkmen poet Shirali Nurmuradov (right) with his wife Natalia Shimovskaya (file photo)

Prominent dissident Turkmen poet Shirali Nurmuradov has died in Sweden at the age of 71.

Nurmuradov, a fierce critic of the authoritarian regime in his native Turkmenistan, was arrested and jailed to short terms for his poems by Turkmen authorities several times in the 1990s.

He went to Sweden in 1995 shortly after he was arrested in Moscow at Ashgabat's request.

Russia did not extradite him to Turkmenistan after his arrest and he was able to move to Poland and later to Sweden, where he got political asylum.

He became a member of Sweden's PEN-club and continued writing poetry.

Authorities in Turkmenistan have banned his verses.

Nurmuradov died on October 11 in a Stockholm health clinic after a long illness.

With reporting by
Kazakh activists Talghat Ayan (left) and Maks Boqaev in an Atyrau courtroom on October 12.

Two participants in a mass protest against land reform in Kazakhstan have gone on trial in the western city of Atyrau.

An Atyrau court began hearings on October 12 against Maks Boqaev and Talghat Ayan, who were charged with inciting social discord, intentionally distributing false information, and illegally organizing public gatherings.

Boqaev and Ayan were detained on April 24 at a central square in Atyrau, where hundreds gathered to protest a government-approved bill on land privatization and land leasing to foreigners.

The protests in Atyrau were followed by mass protests across Kazakhstan for almost two weeks. The protesters expressed concern that the bill would allow foreigners to own farmland in Kazakhstan.

In May, President Nursultan Nazarbaev had to suspend the bill's implementation until 2017. He also created a public commission to revise the bill.

In August, Nazarbaev prolonged the moratorium on land privatization until December 2021.

Rights watchdogs have called on Kazakh authorities to release Boqaev and Ayan, saying they have a right to express their views publicly.

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