AQTOBE, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh activist has been handed a parole-like sentence for his links to a banned political movement.
A court in the northwestern city of Aqtobe on December 21 sentenced Alibek Moldin to one year of "freedom limitation" after finding him guilty of being a leader of the banned Koshe (Street) party associated with the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.
Moldin was detained and placed under house arrest on November 10. His sentence means that he has to report to police on a regular basis, cannot leave Aqtobe, or change his address without police permission until December 21, 2021.
The 37-year-old activist has maintained his innocence and said at the trial that the case against him is politically motivated.
"I am being persecuted by the dictatorial regime.... I have been a political activist since 2016 and since that time I, my parents, and my brothers have been under pressure. There were numerous attempts by the local authorities to force me to change my political views. Several administrative and criminal cases have been launched against me. I was ordered to pay fines and forced out of my job. There are at least 150 activists in Kazakhstan who, like me, have been under pressure because of their political views," Moldin said.
Moldin's lawyer, Adil Tulkibaev, told RFE/RL that the court decision will be appealed.
DVK is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank and an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government. Kazakh authorities labeled the DVK extremist and banned the group in March 2018.
Several activists have been sentenced to various prison terms and limitations in Kazakhstan in recent months for involvement in the DVK's activities, including taking part in DVK-organized unsanctioned rallies.
Human rights groups have said Kazakhstan’s law on public gatherings contradicts international standards as it requires preliminary permission from authorities to hold rallies and envisions prosecution for organizing and participating in unsanctioned rallies, even though the nation’s constitution guarantees its citizens the right of free assembly.