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Opposition Party Leader Pelted With Eggs In Kazakhstan

Vladimir Kozlov, leader of opposition party Algha, was attacked during a meeting in Almaty.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh opposition party leader was pelted with eggs at a meeting in Almaty, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The attack targeted Vladimir Kozlov, leader of Kazakhstan's unregistered Algha (Forward) opposition party, who recently announced that he plans to run for president.

Kozlov and several activists from Algha and the Communist Party of Kazakhstan were attacked by a group of young men in the premises of the National Press Club, where they gathered to discuss the current political situation in Kazakhstan.

The attackers identified themselves as Zheltoqsanshylar (December Activists), an allusion to the mass protests of December 1986. Tens of thousands of mainly young Kazakhs took to the streets that month in Almaty and other towns and cities to challenge the decision by Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), to replace Communist Party of Kazakhstan First Secretary Dinmukhamed Kunaev with an ethnic Russian, Gennady Kolbin.

Kozlov, who is also an ethnic Russian, announced in mid-October that he plans to participate in the presidential election due in 2012. He said it is not only time for 70-year-old incumbent Nursultan Nazarbaev to be replaced, but also for a new political system.

Yermukhamet Yertysbaev, one of Nazarbaev's closest aides, said in September that Nazarbaev will run for a further presidential term in 2012.

The Kazakh Constitution stipulates that the president of Kazakhstan must be fluent in the state language, which is Kazakh. Kozlov has never demonstrated fluency in Kazakh at any of his press conferences.