ASTANA -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev has vowed to "punish provocateurs" who are disrupting social order by spreading disinformation about pending land sales.
Speaking at a gathering of the Assembly of Kazakhstan’s Peoples on April 26, Nazarbaev said that "those, who spread false information, saying that the land will be sold to foreigners, must be apprehended and punished."
Nazarbaev's statement came two days after at least 1,000 local residents rallied in the western city of Atyrau to protest against the government's decision to privatize land through public auctions beginning on July 1.
The protesters said the land should not be privatized, and were especially angry about rumors that public land would be sold to foreigners.
The rare mass protest in Atyrau was not sanctioned by city officials.
Nazarbaev insisted on April 26 that public land will not be sold to foreigners under the privatization plan.
He said foreigners would be allowed to rent agricultural land under leases with a duration of 10 to 25 years.