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Kazakh Oppositionists Defect To Pro-Presidential Party

Former businessman Azat Peruashev's Aq-Zhol has been tipped to join parliament in the next elections.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Four members of Kazakhstan's opposition Azat (Free) party have applied for membership in the pro-presidential Aq Zhol (Bright Path) party, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Nurlan Ayshimbaev, Marat Rgaliev, Nurlan Chudabaev, and Ermek Murzakhmetov said at a press conference in Almaty on January 3 that they were disappointed with Azat, and that is why they decided to join Aq Zhol.

Ayshimbaev told RFE/RL he was "dissatisfied" with Azat's leadership, but liked the revamped Aq Zhol led by Azat Peruashev, who is a former businessman and National Economic Chamber head.

Ayshimbaev added that he had been following Peruashev's career for some time and admired his views and his focused approach to resolving problems.

Early parliamentary elections will be held in Kazakhstan next month. The lower house of parliament is currently filled with deputies from President Nursultan Nazarbaev's Nur-Otan party -- there are no deputies from any other parties represented.

Read more in Kazakh here and more in Russian here