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Pro-Russian Kazakh Activist Jailed For Inciting Hatred

QORDAI, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan has sentenced a pro-Russian activist to four years in prison on hatred charges.

The court in the southern village of Qordai sentenced blogger Ermek Taichibekov on December 11 after finding him guilty of inciting ethnic hatred by placing "inflammatory" materials on Facebook and by supporting the idea of Kazakhstan's joining Russia.

Taichibekov, 37, went on trial on November 4. He pleaded not guilty and described the trial as politically motivated.

At least four Kazakh citizens have been sentenced this year for inciting separatism and/or ethnic hatred through the Internet amid heightened government concern sparked by the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists has killed more than 9,000 people since April 2014.