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Hundreds Of Kazakh Activists Attend Rare Rally In Almaty

Hundreds Attend Rare Protest In Kazakhstan
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ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Hundreds of rights activists have held a rally in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, demanding political reforms and an end to politically motivated persecutions.

Around 300 people took part in the sanctioned rally on October 31 in Almaty's Shoqan Ualikhanov park.

In an unexpected and rare move earlier this month, authorities in Almaty allowed the protest.

Well-known human right activists Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina and Ghalym Ageleuov said on October 12 that they obtained permission to hold the protest after two previous attempts to do so were unsuccessful. No reason was given for the change to allow the rally.

Ageleuov said earlier that Almaty authorities had rejected the two previous requests to hold the rally, saying that the event had been supported by two banned organizations labeled as extremist in the country -- the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) and the associated Koshe (Street) Party.

DVK was established by an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government, fugitive tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, who resides in France and regularly organizes unsanctioned anti-government rallies via the Internet.

It is rare for authorities in Kazakhstan to allow demonstrations or rallies questioning the policies of the government.

According to Kazakh law, any public events must be held only after receiving permission from local authorities, which many in the Central Asian nation and beyond consider as a violation of the Kazakh citizens' civil rights guaranteed by the constitution.

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