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Protesters In Astana Demand Release Of Jailed Ex-Prime Minister

ASTANA -- More than a dozen protesters have blocked a major street in the Kazakh capital, Astana, demanding the immediate release of former Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov from prison.

The protesters unfolded a large placard across the street that read, "We Demand Justice!" The protest also caused a traffic jam.

Police dispersed the February 17 protest and detained the demonstrators.

Akhmetov, 56, was sentenced in December to 10 years in prison on corruption charges.

The former prime minister, who pleaded not guilty, called on President Nursultan Nazarbaev "to forgive my negligence which led to corruption" in the central Qaraghandy region.

Akhmetov is a native of the Qaraghandy region. He served as prime minister between September 2012 and April 2014.

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