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Charges Against Kazakh Journalist Dropped Without Explanation


Ermurat Bapi speaks at a rally in Almaty on October 31.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The Kazakh authorities have dropped charges against a well-known journalist accused of breaking the law on public gatherings.

Ermurat Bapi quoted a police official at the Almaty City Administrative Court as telling him on November 16 that the administrative case brought against him had been dropped.

The official did not provide explanation, he said.

The journalist had been summoned to the court for a hearing in the case.

Bapi told RFE/RL that he was detained in the morning on November 14 because the authorities wanted to prevent him from participating in a rally in Almaty.

The journalist said he was held in detention for several hours before being charged and released.

Almaty city police officials refused to comment on Bapi's status to RFE/RL.

Bapi, a veteran journalist and the founder of the DAT newspaper, one of the few remaining opposition media outlets in the Central Asian state, has faced administrative arrests and fines many times over the years.

On November 14, hundred of peoples rallied in Almaty, demanding registration of the opposition Democratic Party ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for January 10.

The demonstrators also called for a boycott of the vote, the release of political prisoners, and a ban on the leasing of agricultural land by foreign companies.

The demonstration was allowed by the city authorities.

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