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Kazakh Prison Guard Charged Over Beating Of Jailed Activist

Asqar Qaiyrbek demonstrates against Chinese expansion in Nur-Sultan in August 2019.
Asqar Qaiyrbek demonstrates against Chinese expansion in Nur-Sultan in August 2019.

NUR-SULTAN -- A Kazakh prison guard at a detention center in the capital has been charged with abuse of authority over the beating of a jailed political activist.

Lawyer Gulshat Amantaeva told RFE/RL on January 18 that the charge against the guard, who had beaten her client, Asqar Qaiyrbek, earlier this month, wasn't severe enough and that he should have been charged with torture.

Qaiyrbek was sentenced to two months in prison in December after a court found him guilty of having links with the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement that is labeled an extremist organization and banned in the Central Asian state.

According to Amantaeva, two medical examinations held after the attack revealed that Qaiyrbek sustained serious injuries.

Maksim Kalashev of the Nur-Sultan city police department confirmed to RFE/RL that a probe had been launched into Qaiyrbek's beating, but declined to give any details.

Qaiyrbek is a well-known rights activist.

He has been sentenced to jail terms between five and 15 days several times in the past for taking part in unsanctioned rallies in the capital, including ones organized by the DVK.

Several activists have been sentenced to prison terms and freedom limitations in Kazakhstan in recent months for involvement in the DVK's activities, including taking part in unsanctioned, DVK-organized rallies.

DVK was established by an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government, fugitive tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, who resides in France and regularly organizes unsanctioned anti-government rallies via the Internet.

The movement was officially labeled as extremist and banned in Kazakhstan in March 2018.

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