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Detained RFE/RL Kazakh Correspondent Released

RFE/RL correspondent Orken Zhoyamergen
RFE/RL correspondent Orken Zhoyamergen
ASTANA -- A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) correspondent, who was detained in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, while covering a protest, has been released after spending several hours in custody.

Police detained Orken Zhoyamergen along with several demonstrators on May 22.

The protests began on May 21 when dozens of homeowners from around Kazakhstan demonstrated in front of the government and parliament buildings in Astana.

They demanded that the government intervene over what they say are excessive mortgage interest rates and foreclosures.

The protesters were returning to the city center on May 22 to resume their demonstration, but police blocked their way and detained some of them, including Zhoyamergen.

HRW Wants Charges Against Journalist Dropped

Elsewhere in Kazakhstan, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the country's authorities to drop criminal charges against an independent journalist and civil society activist Aleksandr Kharlamov and immediately release him from a psychiatric clinic.
Aleksandr Kharlamov
Aleksandr Kharlamov

In statement released on May 22, HRW Central Asia researcher Mihra Rittmann said "this is hardly the first time the authorities have used criminal incitement charges to try to silence a peaceful critic."

Kharlamov was arrested in March and charged with inciting religious hatred because of articles he wrote on world religions.

In April, he was sent from his home town of Ridder in Kazakhstan’s northeast to a psychiatric clinic in Almaty and placed under forced observation.

Kharlamov's relatives insist his case is politically motivated.

They say authorities launched investigations against Kharlamov after he published articles that accused Ridder's police of violating people's rights.
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    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service offers informed and accurate reporting in the Kazakh and Russian languages about issues that matter in Kazakhstan, while providing a dynamic platform for audience engagement and the free exchange of news and ideas.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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