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Kazakh Journalists, Activists Summoned Ahead Of Protest

Lukpan Ahmedyarov, editor of the newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya
Lukpan Ahmedyarov, editor of the newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya

ORAL, Kazakhstan -- Four journalists with the Uralskaya Nedelya newspaper in Kazakhstan's western city of Oral have been summoned to a police office and questioned about a video the media outlet posted on Facebook.

The journalists were summoned on June 19 after an Internet user registered on Facebook as Zhan Baizhan posted a comment to the video calling on Kazakhs to take part in rallies planned by the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) for June 23.

RFE/RL correspondent Sanat Orynaliev was also summoned after he interviewed Uralskaya Nedelya's publisher, Tamara Eslyamova, as she was leaving following questioning by police.

Police warned Orynaliev against working for groups that are designated as extremist organizations in Kazakhstan, including DVK. Orynaliev has no connection to DVK.

A day earlier, police summoned several local activists and urge them not to take part in any activities organized by DVK.

DVK was established by former Energy Minister and ex-banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Ablyazov and several other Kazakh opposition figures living abroad announced the creation of the DVK movement in April 2017, saying its goal would be "democratic reforms in Kazakhstan."

In March, a court in Kazakhstan branded DVK an extremist organization and banned its operations in the country.

Ablyazov has called on his supporters in Kazakhstan to hold mass antigovernment rallies across the country on June 23.

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