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Kazakh Politician Flees Country, Fearing Arrest

Kazakh opposition politician Serikzhan Mambetalin
The former leader of a Kazakh political party that was barred from taking part in parliamentary elections earlier this month has left his country for London, fearing possible pressure and arrest by Kazakh authorities.

Serikzhan Mambetalin told RFE/RL that he left Kazakhstan last week and does not plan to return in the near future.

He said "political oppression against opposition politicians has increased."

Mambetalin’s Ruhaniyat (Spiritual Strength) party harshly criticized authorities last month for opening fire at striking oil workers in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen.

Several Kazakh opposition activists and a journalist were arrested in recent days for alleged involvement in the fatal clashes in Zhanaozen.

On January 25, the New-York-based Human Rights Watch urged Kazakh authorities to stop applying criminal law to crack down on opposition politicians.
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