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Two Kazakh Activists' Prison Sentences Annulled

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- An appeals court in the Kazakh city of Almaty has reduced the sentences handed down to two government critics.

The court on March 30 ruled that the two-year prison term for Serikzhan Mambetalin must be replaced with one year of supervised release.

Ermek Narymbaev's three-year prison term was lowered to two years of supervised release.

Mambetalin and Narymbaev were also banned from public activities for three and five years, respectively.

The two were arrested in October and sentenced in January after a court found them guilty of inciting social hatred via the Internet.

Both pleaded not guilty, saying the charges against them were politically motivated.

However, Mambetalin later publicly "repented" for his "mistakes" and was released from jail ahead of the ruling by the court of appeals.

Narymbaev refused to admit guilt and held a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. He was transferred from jail to a strict house-arrest regime in February ahead of the appeals court ruling.

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