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Kazakh Activist Sentenced For Supporting Banned Opposition Movement

Muratbai Baimaghambetov
Muratbai Baimaghambetov

QYZYLORDA, Kazakhstan -- A court in southern Kazakhstan has handed a parole-like sentence to an activist for supporting the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement, one of several activists sentenced for supporting the opposition group in recent years.

The Court No. 2 in the southern city of Qyzylorda on April 20 sentenced Muratbai Baimaghambetov to two years of "freedom limitation" and 170 hours of community work.

Baimaghambetov, who was arrested in September 2020, told RFE/RL that he will appeal the sentence.

The activist is known for his rights activities in the region.

While in pretrial detention, human rights organizations in Kazakhstan recognized Baimaghambetov as a political prisoner.

Several activists in the Central Asian nation have been handed "freedom limitation" and prison sentences in recent years for their support or involvement in the activities of DVK and its associate, Koshe (Street) party, as well as for taking part in unsanctioned rallies organized by the two groups.

DVK is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank and outspoken critic of the Kazakh government. Kazakh authorities labeled DVK as extremist and banned the group in March 2018.

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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