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Kazakh Opposition Leaders Fined For 'Unsanctioned Gathering'

Opposition leaders in Almaty burn election lists during a protest against the results of Kazakhstan's parliamentary elections.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The leaders of the Kazakh opposition Social Democratic Azat (Freedom) party have been fined for holding an unsanctioned public gathering, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Bolat Abilov, a co-chairman of the Azat party, told RFE/RL that he and fellow Azat co-Chairman Zharmakhan Tuyaqbai were found guilty of holding an unsanctioned protest on January 17 when they protested the official results of the parliamentary elections held on January 15.

He said they were each fined 32,360 tenges ($215).

Abilov said he refused to answer the judge's questions and stated in court that he intends to continue to participate in his party's public actions.

A member of the Azat party's presidium, Marzhan Aspandiyarova, was also fined 32,360 tenges for taking part in the protest.

On January 18, Azat's Almaty branch Chairman Amirbek Togusov was fined 80,900 tenges ($537) for taking part in the same gathering.

Some 200 opposition activists, mainly leaders and activists from the Azat party, and their supporters rallied on January 17 in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, to protest the results of the parliamentary elections, saying they had been rigged.

Talking to journalists in Astana on January 16, Prosecutor-General spokesman Nurdaulet Suindikov said the demonstration in Almaty had been approved by authorities.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev's Nur-Otan and two pro-government parties -- Ak Zhol (Bright Path) and the Communist People's Party -- won entry to the new parliament.

International observers said the election failed to meet basic democratic standards.

Read more in Kazakh here