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Another Kazakh Opposition Activist Gets Draft Notice Ahead Of Presidential Election

Kazakh activist Alimzhan Izbasarov (file photo)
Kazakh activist Alimzhan Izbasarov (file photo)

NUR-SULTAN -- A Kazakh opposition activist said authorities have sent him a conscription notification in a move that he says is punishment for his political activities.

Alimzhan Izbasarov told RFE/RL he received the notification after completing a 15-day jail sentence on charges of taking part in an unsanctioned May 1 political rally in Nur-Sultan.

The notification orders Izbasarov to report to the Almaty District's Defense Department Directorate on May 30 for a medical examination and serve for one year in Kazakhstan's armed forces.

In a May 23 interview, Izbasarov told RFE/RL he thinks he has been drafted because government officials want "to make sure that active youth are not around" as the country prepares for an early presidential election scheduled for June 9.

The 23-year-old activist says he thinks the timing of the draft notice was "politically motivated," adding that he has been using social media since his release from jail to call on other Kazakh citizens to become more politically active and to defend their rights.

Although he said he does not plan to evade military service, he said he will try to postpone his conscription so that he can support the political activities of other young Kazakhs and help defend their civil rights ahead of the election.

Izbasarov's case is the latest in a growing number involving political activists who appear to have been singled for conscription by authorities.

It was not immediately clear whether more activists have received conscription notifications.

Kazakh authorities have refused to comment on accusations that they are using the draft to target opposition political activists.

Under Kazakh law, all men between the ages of 18 and 27 are required to serve one year in the armed forces. However, there are many exemptions, including for higher education and health reasons.

Wealthy or politically connected people also routinely bribe recruiting officials, or find ways to avoid service.

There has been an increase in protests in Kazakhstan in recent months amid discontent with the political system that has been dominated by the former president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, since the Soviet era.

Nazarbaev announced his resignation from the presidency in March, but said he would retain broad powers as head of a national security council, leading many to believe he still retains ultimate authority.

Nazarbaev's influential daughter, Darigha Nazarbaeva was appointed head of the upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament on the same day .

Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, a close ally of Nazarbaev, was named as interim president, and has been nominated by Nazarbaev's ruling Nur-Otan party as its candidate in the June 9 election.

He is expected to easily win the vote.

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