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Kazakh Journalist Detained For Protesting Amendments

Police escorting Belyayeva away today (RFE/RL) ALMATY, May 29, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh police today detained a journalist who was protesting recently adopted amendments to the Kazakh Constitution, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Yekaterina Belyayeva, an Almaty-based reporter for the "Vzgliyad" weekly newspaper, staged her protest in Almaty's Central Square.

She held a poster reading: "Amendments to the constitution - the path to totalitarism" and spoke to journalists for about 20 minutes before police took her away, saying she had broken the law on holding mass gatherings.

"I'm here simply as someone who is not indifferent to Kazakhstan's future," Belyayeva told journalists. "I don't see any democracy in Kazakhstan, nor do I see any democracy in these [constitutional] reforms. I'm disappointed by the cynicism of our government officials who present all of this as a step toward democracy. This is why I'm here."<

Under the amendments, which were adopted on May 22, President Nursultan Nazarbaev is eligible to run for office as many times as he likes. Other amendments reduced the presidential term of office from seven years to five and enhanced the powers of the legislature.

It is the second such case in Almaty. Last week a group of locals protesting the amendments was detained by police and fined by the Almaty City Court for violating the law on demonstrations.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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