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Number Of Kazakhs Detained In Postpresidential Election Protests Nears 4,000

Kazakh police detain a demonstrator in Almaty on June 12.
Kazakh police detain a demonstrator in Almaty on June 12.

ASTANA -- Kazakh Interior Minister Erlan Turghymbaev says the number of protesters detained during five days of rallies against the results of a recent presidential election has risen to almost 4,000.

Turghymbaev told reporters in Nur-Sultan on June 18 that rallies following the June 9 snap election were illegal as they had not been approved by the authorities.

He added that the majority of the detained protesters were released, while 677 individuals were sentenced to up to 15 days in jail and 305 persons were fined.

"Police did not use special equipment against the demonstrators. Neither tear gas, nor rubber batons, were used.... Nearly 4,000 people were detained," Turghymbaev said.

Thousands of citizens have taken to the streets of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and some other cities in Kazakhstan to condemn a vote that gave Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, the handpicked successor of former authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbaev, an overwhelming victory.

The demonstrators say the election, which Toqaev won with 71 percent of the vote, was rigged.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have criticized the vote, saying that "a lack of regard for fundamental rights, including detentions of peaceful protesters, and widespread voting irregularities on election day, showed scant respect for democratic standards."

On June 13, the UN Human Rights Office expressed concerns "about the significant scale of arrests and convictions for peaceful and legitimate expression of political opinion and dissent."

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