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Three Jailed For Attack On Kazakh Opposition Activists

PAVLODAR, Kazakhstan -- Three young men have been jailed for seven days for attacking Kazakh opposition activists protesting next month's presidential election, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The three, all aged 19, were found guilty of hooliganism on March 29 over the March 11 incident in the northern city of Pavlodar.

The trio attacked a group of activists from the unregistered Algha (Forward) party as they headed to the city center to take part in a flash mob.

The chairwoman of Algha's branch in Pavlodar, Perizat Qasymova, told journalists that the three cut several balloons the activists were holding. The balloons had inscriptions saying "I will not go to the polling station!"

The attackers also insulted the activists verbally, threatened to beat them, and tried to break a video camera they had with them.

Algha has been holding various gatherings calling on voters to boycott the April 3 early presidential election.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev, 70, who has been running the country for more than 20 years, called the snap poll earlier this year almost two years ahead of schedule.

Opposition groups have criticized the early election as "a tool to illegally prolong Nazarbaev's term in office again," and are calling for a boycott.

Read more in Kazakh here