ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh human rights watchdog says a pro-Russian activist who was sentenced less than two years ago to four years in prison on hatred charges has been released from prison.
The Almaty-based Kazakhstan Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law said on October 23 that blogger Ermek Taichibekov had been granted early release for good behavior in detention and released several days ago.
A court in the southern Kazakhstan sentenced Taichibekov in December 2015 after finding him guilty of inciting ethnic hatred by placing "inflammatory" materials on Facebook and by supporting the idea of Kazakhstan's joining Russia.
Taichibekov, 39, has maintained his innocence, describing his case as politically motivated.
Several Kazakh citizens have been sentenced since 2014 for inciting separatism and/or ethnic hatred through the Internet amid heightened government concern sparked by the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists who hold parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.