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Kazakh Opposition Activist Faces New Charges

Yermek Narymbaev at his trial on May 14
Yermek Narymbaev at his trial on May 14
ALMATY -- A jailed Kazakh opposition activist is facing new charges for violently resisting police, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Yermek Narymbaev, the leader of the Arman (Dream) movement, was sentenced to 15 days in jail on May 2 for holding an unsanctioned mass gathering.

The May 1 gathering was organized by the People's Power political bloc in the Almaty offices of the unregistered opposition Alga (Forward) party.

More than 500 people representing Kazakh nongovernmental organizations, opposition movements, and the People's Power bloc took part.

Narymbaev's wife, Zoya Narymbaeva, told RFE/RL that she learned on May 13 that her husband's case was transferred to the Almaty Interior Ministry branch and a criminal case was opened against him.

Narymbaev is accused of violently resisting police when he was detained.

Narymbaeva said her husband's lawyer told her that two police officers testified against Narymbaev, accusing him of attacking them.

Witnesses deny the charges against Narymbaev, who said in a court hearing on May 14 that he would prove his innocence during the trial.

Meanwhile, a hunger strike by opposition activists in Almaty was suspended on May 14.

The strikers, who had been on a hunger strike for nearly two weeks, demanded President Nursultan Nazarbaev's resignation, the holding of fair elections, an unbiased judiciary, free media, freedom of assembly, and the immediate release of all political prisoners in Kazakhstan.

The hunger strike's coordinator, Zhasaral Kuanyshalin, told RFE/RL that the strike was "temporarily suspended" at the urging of the People's Power bloc.

He added that the coordination group will continue operating and the protest might resume.

The hunger strike was begun by five activists after police forcibly dispersed a May 1 gathering near the Alga party offices.

Kuanyshalin was fined the equivalent of $100 for organizing an unsanctioned public gathering.