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Kazakh Activists Criticize Zhovtis Verdict

Supporters of Yevgeny Zhovtis protest his treatment earlier this month.
Activists in Kazakhstan say the government is trying to frighten society with the recent manslaughter conviction of a leading human rights activist, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Yevgeny Zhovtis, director of the NGO Bureau of Human Rights, was sentenced to four year in prison last month for his role in a deadly traffic accident.

On October 19, an Almaty Oblast court in the city of Taldy-Qorghan upheld his conviction and sentence.

Activists and opposition leaders say the authorities are retaliating against Zhovtis's activities as a human rights defender.

An organization called the Group to Defend Zhovtis issued a statement today saying the "verdict goes against the principles of a free society and a democratic state. It is a mockery of Kazakhstan's obligations to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a demonstration of disrespect to the international community's opinion, which demanded a fair trial for Yevgeny Zhovtis."

The statement concludes that the verdict against Zhovtis is an attempt by the Kazakh authorities "to frighten society and to return to a totalitarian system."