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Kazakhs Arrested In Referendum 'Coffin Protest'

Activists hold a protest called "Funeral of Democracy" in front of the offices of the pro-presidential Nur Otan party in Almaty.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Police in Almaty have detained several activists staging a mock "burial of democracy" to protest a proposed referendum on extending President Nursultan Nazarbaev's term in office, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The protest, held in front of the offices of the pro-presidential Nur-Otan party in Almaty, was organized by the NGO "Rukh pen Til" (Spirit and Language).

The protesters simulated the burial of a paper coffin containing a placard inscribed "Democracy." Police intervened and detained all the protest participants.

WATCH: Activists hold a mock funeral for "democracy," and are taken away by the police (in Kazakh).

'Burying Democracy' Protest
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One of the NGO's members, journalist Inga Imanbaeva, told RFE/RL that the idea of holding a national referendum to extend Nazarbaev's presidential term until 2020 was one of the most "shameful and disgraceful ideas" ever floated in Kazakhstan.

The idea of the referendum was raised last month by a self-styled "initiative group" headed by academician Erlan Sydyqov.

The proposal gained the backing of both houses of parliament, but Nazarbaev rejected the idea on January 7.

Sydyqov told RFE/RL on January 10 that a petition with the signatures of over 4.3 million supporters of the initiative would be submitted to the Central Election Commission today.

Read more in Kazakh here