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Government Critic Flees Kazakhstan, Fearing For Her Safety

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (file photo)
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (file photo)

A Kazakh blogger who has criticized President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government has fled the country, saying she fears for her safety.

Zhanar Akhmet told RFE/RL that she and her 9-year-old son had arrived in Kyiv on March 17 and plan to settle in the Ukrainian capital.

Akhmet said she decided to leave Kazakhstan after facing several court hearings in recent months for alleged legal violations including jaywalking. She believes the accusations are politically motivated.

The last straw, Akhmet said, was learning from sources that she may face trumped-up charges of "organizing an illegal group" using the Internet to advocate self-immolation.

Akhmet said that Ermek Narymbaev, a Kazakh opposition activist who fled to Ukraine in 2016, had met her and her son at Kyiv airport.

At least three other Kazakh rights activists -- Moldir Adilova, Aidos Sadyqov, and Natalya Sadyqova -- have also fled to Ukraine in recent years.

Nazabaev, who has held power in the Central Asian nation since before the 1991 Soviet breakup, tolerates little dissent.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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