NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakh activist Erbol Eskhozhin has gone on trial over his alleged links with the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement as authorities continue to roundup supporters of the group that is led from abroad by former banker Mukhtar Ablyazov.
The Saryarqa district court in the Kazakh capital began the hearing on April 14 as about a dozen of activists rallied in the city, demanding Eskhozhin's release and expressing support for dozens of other activists sentenced for backing the DVK in recent years.
The trial is being held online due to coronavirus precautions.
Eskhozhin, 44, was arrested in December 2020 and charged with taking part in the activities of the DVK, which was labelled as extremist and banned in the country in 2018.
Last December, the charge was changed to organizing activities for the DVK, which is an offense punishable by up to six years in prison. Eskhozhin has rejected the charge as politically motivated.
In recent years, many activists across the Central Asian nation have been convicted for their involvement in the activities of the DVK and its associated grouping, the Koshe (Street) Party.
Last week, human rights activists in Kazakhstan’s second-largest city, Almaty, expressed concerns over the situation faced by another jailed DVK supporter, Aset Abishev, who, the activists said, was placed in solitary confinement after he cut his wrists to protest his treatment by guards and overall prison conditions.