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Kazakh Opposition Decries Election Law Changes

Almaty, 25 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Opposition groups in Kazakhstan complained today about changes to the country's electoral code that prohibit rallies and demonstrations during and after elections.

The amendments came into force with their publication in the official press today.

Opposition groups claim the changes are aimed at preventing street protests against fraudulent elections.

Public protests in the wake of flawed elections culminated in the ouster of President Askar Akaev in neighboring Kyrgyzstan on 24 March.

The opposition said the election law changes were proof that the government already intends to falsify election results and is working to head off public protests.

Meanwhile, Irina Petrusheva, the editor in chief of the opposition weekly newspaper "Respublika," was detained in Russia on 23 April at the request of the Kazakh police.

Petrusheva has been living in self-imposed exile in Russia since 2002, when threats against her life and her newspaper led her to flee Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan's opposition charged that Petrusheva's arrest is a fresh clampdown on freedom of the press.

(RFE/RL with additional wire reporting)