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Kazakh Activist Jailed, Two Others Fined Over Unsanctioned Protest

A protest in Kokshetau, Kazakhstan on January 25.
A protest in Kokshetau, Kazakhstan on January 25.

KOKSHETAU, Kazakhstan -- A court in northern Kazakhstan has sentenced an opposition activist to jail and fined two other people for allegedly taking part in an unsanctioned rally.

The administrative court in the city of Kokshetau on January 28 handed a 12-day jail sentence to Aslan Qurmanbaev.

Another activist, Marat Zhanuzaqov, and a local resident, Gaukhar Shakenova, were both fined 87,500 tenges ($205).

The case stems from an unsanctioned rally held in Kokshetau's central square on January 25 by hundreds of people angered by what they called the government’s poor results in the fights against corruption and the coronavirus pandemic.

All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Shakenova said she did not participate in the rally but was just a passerby.

Kokshetau is a remote city of 146,000 people located 300 kilometers northwest of Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan.

Human rights groups have said Kazakhstan’s law on public gatherings contradicts international standards as it requires preliminary permission from authorities to hold rallies and envisions prosecution for organizing and participating in unsanctioned rallies even though the nation’s constitution guarantees its citizens the right of free assembly.

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