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Kazakh Man Sentenced To Prison For 'Inciting Ethnic Hatred' On Social Network

A court in Kazakhstan's northern city of Petropavl has sentenced a man to two years in prison on charges of inciting ethnic hatred via the Internet.

Regional anti-extremism directorate chief Ruslan Mukhambetzhanov told journalists that Sergei Khandogin, a 45-year-old Petropavl resident, had pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced on November 13.

Prosecutors said at the trial that in several posts on the Russian-based social network Odnoklassniki, Khandogin "used negative words insulting ethnic Kazakhs" and cited material that "distorts historic facts."

Petropavl is the capital of the North Kazakhstan region, which borders Russia, and Russian speakers make up a majority of the city's population.

Since 2014, several Kazakh citizens have been convicted of inciting ethnic hatred or separatism over Internet posts amid heightened government concern sparked by Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Russia occupied the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, where it has backed separatists in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people since that April.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to justify Moscow's interference in part by citing what he said were concerns about the life, security, and rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine.

Those developments, as well as calls for the creation of a "Russian World" linking areas with large Russian-speaking populations, sparked concerns that Moscow might set its sights on the swath of northern Kazakhstan along the border with Russia.

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