ALMATY -- A group of women have attacked journalists who were covering a news conference organized by human rights activists in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.
In what appeared to be a coordinated attack, a gang of about 20 athletic women stormed into the July 22 press conference at the headquarters of Kazakhstan’s Bureau for Human Rights.
The nongovernmental rights group was trying to highlight the fate of three women who have been jailed as alleged members of an opposition group that is banned in Kazakhstan.
The attackers shouted “don’t film” in the Russian language as they beat journalists and smashed their equipment.
Journalists who were attacked included correspondents and cameramen from RFE/RL, the private broadcaster Almaty TV, and the private KazTAG news agency.
RFE/RL reporter Nurgul Tapaeva was punched and the equipment of RFE/RL cameraman Tokmolda Kusainov was damaged.
A camera used by Almaty TV was also damaged in the altercation, and the women seized a camera used by the KazTAG news agency.
Mothers Of Young Children
The press conference was organized by rights activists and lawyers who represent three women arrested earlier in July on charges of taking part in unsanctioned rallies -- Oksana Shevchuk, Zhazira Demeuova, and Gulzipa Zhaukerova.
The three women have admitted in court that they attended rallies in May to protest against an early presidential election in Kazakhstan and the renaming of the capital, Astana, to Nur-Sultan after former President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
Their arrests caused an outcry in Kazakhstan as all of the three are mothers of young children.
Investigators have charged that the three women are members of Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, a banned political party backed by the self-exiled former banker and businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov.
Ablyazov, who has lived outside Kazakhstan since 2009, is an outspoken opponent of Kazakhstan’s governing elite.
In 2018, a court in the Kazakh capital banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan as an extremist organization.