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Kazakh President: Curfew To End In Restive Town

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev during his annual state of the nation address to parliament in Astana on January 27.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev during his annual state of the nation address to parliament in Astana on January 27.
ASTANA -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev says he does not plan to prolong the curfew in the restive town of Zhanaozen beyond its scheduled end at the end of January.

The president's announcement on January 27 came as authorities continued a clampdown on opposition figures in the wake of the December violence in Zhanaozen and parliamentary elections earlier in January.

Speaking in his annual address to a joint session of parliament in Astana, Nazarbaev said about the curfew, "Currently the situation there [in Zhanaozen] is stable. The majority of Zhanaozen citizens voted for [the ruling] Nur-Otan party during the elections to [the Parliament's lower chamber] Mazhilis.

"That fully indicates that they support our government's policies, which is why I made a decision not to prolong the extraordinary situation in Zhanaozen further."

The curfew was imposed in the southwestern oil town in mid-December after violent clashes between striking oil workers and police left at least 16 people dead.

New Strategy

On January 26, a court in Almaty approved two months of detention for presidential candidate Serik Saparghali, unregistered opposition Algha (Forward) party leader Vladimir Kozlov, and independent Vzglyad (Glance) newspaper’s editor Igor Vinyavsky.

All three have been publicly critical of the authorities' actions in Zhanaozen.

Their arrests on January 23 have been denounced by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and human rights groups.

Saparghali has been on hunger strike since the first day of his arrest.

In his speech, Nazarbaev also stated that he had instructed Kazakhstan's government to develop a new strategy to fight corruption.

According to Nazarbaev, the new measures should include a declaration of the income and expenses of public servants.

Nazarbaev said he has also ordered steps to prepare Kazakhstan for impacts from the global economic crisis, including action to provide jobs for 1.5 million people by 2020.
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