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Group Criticizes Liquidation Of Kazakh Political Party

President Nazarbaev (file photo) 10 January 2005 -- A U.S.-based human rights group is criticizing authorities in Kazakhstan for their recent decision to ban a leading opposition party.

In an open letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev today, the New York-based Human Rights Watch says that banning the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan party (DCK) "comes as a blow to the promotion of political pluralism" in Kazakhstan.

Last week, a Kazakh court ruled in favor of liquidating the DCK after the Almaty Prosecutor's Office said the party had breached national security laws.

Human Rights Watch says the court ruling will "no doubt" cripple the Kazakh political opposition in advance of presidential elections due in 2006.