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Dozens Detained In Anti-Government Protests In Major Kazakh Cities


Law enforcement officers detain a man during an opposition protest in Almaty.
Law enforcement officers detain a man during an opposition protest in Almaty.

NUR-SULTAN -- Authorities detained dozens of people in Kazakhstan's two largest cities, as protesters staged the latest in a series of rallies against newly elected President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev.

Demonstrators marching through the city streets of the capital Nur-Sultan on July 6 were confronted by uniformed and plainclothes police officers and were dragged to nearby police buses.

Men appearing to be security agents tried to block RFE/RL reporters and videographers from filming the detentions, using umbrellas to block their views. Some of RFE/RL's video and broadcast equipment was damaged by unidentified men.

Detentions In Kazakhstan On Ex-Ruler's Birthday
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WATCH: RFE/RL footage from the city of Shymkent shows men spreading umbrellas to block the view of detentions.

Some of those detained appeared to be bystanders; one woman told RFE/RL that her 15-year-old son had been taken away by police even though the two of them were out strolling along a river embankment.

At least 70 people had been detained in Nur-Sultan by late July 6, and a similar number in the country's commercial capital, Almaty. The independent website reported up to 100 people were detained in Almaty.

Protests also occurred in Shymkent, Karaganda, and Oral, where detentions were also reported.

Dozens Detained In Kazakhstan's Largest City On Ex-Leader's Birthday
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WATCH: Dozens Detained In Almaty

The protests were organized in part by the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, a banned political party that is backed by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a tycoon who has lived in exile since 2009.

A longtime outspoken opponent of Kazakhstan's governing elites, Ablyazov has for years clashed with Kazakh authorities. Last year, a court ruled the party was an extremist organization and banned it.

The July 6 protests were the latest in a series that have occurred with more frequency since longtime ruler Nursultan Nazarbaev abruptly resigned and named a successor.

Toqaev formally won election as president on June 9, in a vote that international observers said was marred by "detentions of peaceful protesters, and widespread voting irregularities on election day [that] showed scant respect for democratic standards."

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