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Kazakh Opposition Fears Crackdown Is Looming

7 January 2005 -- A Kazakh opposition party, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK), says it will appeal a court decision to liquidate it.

Yesterday, a Kazakh court authorized liquidating the DCK after the Almaty prosecutors' office filed suit against it, saying it violated national security laws.

Kazakh opposition leaders from the Coordinating Council of Kazakh Democratic Forces, the Ak Zhol, and Communist parties today told reporters they fear the court's decision represents a looming threat to Kazakhstan's political life.

Ak Zhol co-Chairman Altynbek Sarsenbaev told RFE/RL that the court's ruling could push Kazakhstan from its current semidemocratic state to one devoid of democracy.

"I consider yesterday's decision as a temporary one," Sarsenbaev said. "If this decision is affirmed, it means that Kazakhstan will move from its current position of a semidemocratic country toward that of Turkmenistan. That is a very dangerous process for everyone in this country. It is not just a problem faced by DCK, it is a problem faced by the whole society. It is a danger faced by all political and civic institutions here."

Coordinating Council of Kazakh Democratic Forces Chairman Zharmakhan Tuyakbai said the court's ruling means "a complete ban on dissent and criticism of the authorities."