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Inga Imanbai (file photo)

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The wife of jailed Kazakh opposition politician Zhanbolat Mamai has been fined after she was briefly detained and charged with violating the Central Asian nation's law on public gatherings.

A court in Almaty fined Inga Imanbai 91,800 tenges ($209) on May 4 after finding her guilty of the charge, which Imanbai told RFE/RL was politically motivated.

"I consider the court’s ruling as pressure being imposed on me, my husband, and the Democratic party ahead of our rally scheduled for May 7," Imanbai said.

Earlier in the day, Imanbai told RFE/RL that about a dozen police officers came to detain her when she was leaving a detention center in Almaty on May 4, where she had brought food to her husband.

"Police rejected my suggestion that I would come to the police station later with my lawyer. They forced me into their car and brought me to the Almaty district police department, where they told me that I was accused of breaking the law on public gatherings," Imanbai said, adding that the charge stemmed from a rally in front of a court in Almaty where she was demanding Mamai's release.

Mamai, the leader of the unregistered Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, was sentenced on February 25 for organizing an unsanctioned public event to commemorate the victims of January anti-government protests around Kazakhstan that claimed the lives of at least 230 people.

Mamai was expected to be released on March 12 after serving a 15-day jail term. However, he was not released and instead faced additional charges of insulting law enforcement officers and distributing "false information."

On March 14, a court in Almaty sent Mamai to pretrial detention for at least two months.

Mamai has been known for his harsh criticism of the nation's authoritarian government.

He has been trying to register the Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, but claims he is being prevented by the government, which he says only permits parties loyal to those holding political power to be legally registered.

Kazakhstan has been run by authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his successor, Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, since gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Over the past three decades, several opposition figures have been killed and many have been jailed or forced to flee the Central Asian country.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he will be transferred to a notorious prison, where inmates are reported to have been tortured, once his latest custodial sentence takes effect.

Navalny, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in March while he was already serving another prison term from a separate case, wrote on Telegram on May 4 that he was informed by inmates from Correctional Colony No 6 in the town of Melekhovo that the penitentiary’s authorities are preparing for his transfer to the facility.

"My sentence has not come into force yet, but inmates from the maximum-security prison in Melekhovo have written to me that 'a prison inside a prison' is being prepared for me there. If you Google the term Melekhovo, you will see inmates' stories about how their nails were torn off," Navalny wrote, referring to the allegations of torture at the institution.

Prison authorities have not commented on the issue.

Navalny was arrested in January last year upon his arrival in Moscow from Germany, where he had been treated for a poison attack with what European labs defined as a Soviet-style nerve agent. He was handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole because of his convalescence abroad. The conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case.

5 Things To Know About Russian Opposition Leader Aleksei Navalny
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Navalny has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning with a Novichok-style chemical substance. The Kremlin has denied any role in the attack.

A court handed down a new sentence against Navalny -- nine years in prison -- on March 22 after finding him guilty of embezzlement and contempt charges, which Navalny and his supporters also rejected as politically motivated. That sentence is expected to fully come into force after an upper court upholds it upon appeal.

In March last year, the Mediazona website cited a former inmate of the prison in Melekhovo, Ivan Fomin, who described how inmates were tortured and sexually abused in the penitentiary.

International organizations consider Navalny to be a political prisoner. The European Union, U.S. President Joe Biden, and other international officials have demanded that Russian authorities release the 45-year-old Kremlin-critic.

Navalny is currently serving his term in a prison in the town of Pokrov, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow.

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About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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