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ALMATY -- Authorities have searched the offices of the nongovernmental organization Arqa Suyeu (Support) in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, on the eve of an important award ceremony.

Murat Tunghyshbaev, an activist of Arqa Suyeu, told RFE/RL that financial authorities confiscated his mobile phone during the May 30 search.

Group chairman Mikhail Sizov had been warned by the Almaty prosecutor’s office earlier that the Liberty Award ceremony cannot be held on May 31 as scheduled.

The prosecutor's office said the award is associated with opposition party Algha (Forward), which is officially banned in Kazakhstan, and fugitive opposition politician and banker Mukhtar Ablyazov.

The annual award was established by Kazakh opposition groups 10 years ago and is given to journalists, writers, artists, and activists for their contribution to democratic institutions in the country.