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Kazakh Businessman Testifies He Financed Protests Against Land Privatization

Toktar Toleshov testified through a video link from Astana on October 17.
Toktar Toleshov testified through a video link from Astana on October 17.

ATYRAU, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh businessman arrested as part of an alleged plot to overthrow the government has testified that he financially supported mass protests against the country's land privatization plans.

Testifying via video link from Astana, Tokhtar Toleshov said on October 17 that his assistants gave $100,000 to Talghat Ayan to organize the protests, which were some of the largest seen in Kazakhstan in years.

Ayan and another man, Maks Boqaev, went on trial in the western city of Atyrau on October 12 on charges of inciting social discord, intentionally distributing false information, and illegally organizing public gatherings.

They were detained on April 24 at a central square in Atyrau, where thousands gathered to protest a government-approved bill on land privatization and land leasing to foreigners.

The protests in Atyrau were followed by mass protests across Kazakhstan that lasted almost two weeks and have resulted in a delay in implementation of the bill until December 2021.

Ayan and Boqaev pleaded not guilty.

Toleshov and 24 other suspects were arrested in January and have been charged with attempting to overthrow the government, extremism, and illegal weapon possession.

They went on trial in a separate case in Astana in September.

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