ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- In an unexpected and rare move, authorities in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, have allowed rights activists to hold a rally at which demonstrators will demand political reforms and an end to politically motivated persecutions.
Well-known human right activists Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina and Ghalym Ageleuov said late on October 12 that they obtained the permission to hold the protest after two previous attempts to do so were unsuccessful. No reason was given for the change to allow the rally.
The three-hour rally will start at noon on October 31 in Almaty's Shoqan Ualikhanov park.
Ageleuov said earlier that Almaty authorities had rejected the two previous requests to hold the rally, saying that the event had been supported by two banned organizations labeled as extremist in the country -- the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) and the associated Koshe (Street) Party.
DVK was established by an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government, fugitive tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, who resides in France and regularly organizes unsanctioned anti-government rallies via the Internet.
On October 12, the trial started of a civil rights activist in the northern city of Petropavl, Nurbol Onerkhan, who is charged with "supporting" DVK and its founder Ablyazov.
In general, it is very rare for authorities in Kazakhstan to allow demonstrations or rallies questioning the policies of the government.
According to Kazakh law, any public events must be held only after receiving permission from local authorities, which many in the Central Asian nation and beyond consider as a violation of the Kazakh citizens' civil rights guaranteed by the constitution.