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Kazakh Opposition Leader Released From Prison

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The leader of the unregistered opposition party Algha (Forward), Vladimir Kozlov, has been released on parole.

Kozlov left a penal colony in Zarechny, near Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, on August 19.

He was greeted at the prison gates by his lawyer, Ayman Umarov, and civil activist Yulia Kozlova.

The Qapshaghai city court accepted Kozlov’s request on August 4 to be released on parole but its decision only came into force on August 19.

Kozlov was arrested in January 2012 for his role in a mass strike by oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen that ended in violence in December 2011.

During the unrest, police shot dead at least 16 people in Zhanaozen. More than 100 were injured.

In October 2012, Kozlov was found guilty of inciting social discord and sentenced to 7 1/2 years in jail.

Kozlov has insisted the case against him was politically motivated.

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