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Annual Kazakh Opposition Award Goes To Jailed Activist, Journalist

Guzyal Baidalinova was sentenced to 18 months in jail on May 23 on libel charges.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh opposition groups have handed out their annual Liberty awards to three individuals.

The winners of the 2016 awards are the prominent singer Zhanat Esentaev, independent news website editor Guzyal Baidalinova, and the chairwoman of the Journalists in Need NGO, Rozlana Taukina.

Igor Kolov, a representative of the Liberty award committee, announced the 2016 laureates in Almaty on May 31, the day when Kazakhstan commemorates victims of political repression.

Two of the laureates are currently in jail.

Baidalinova was sentenced to 18 months in jail on May 23 on libel charges.

Esentaev was placed under pretrial arrest on May 17 before planned mass protests against land privatization. He is facing charges of inciting social discord.

The annual award was established by Kazakh opposition groups in 2003 and is given to journalists, writers, artists, and activists for their contribution to democratic institutions in the country.

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