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Official Denies Reports Troops Sent To Kazakh Jail

A spokeswoman denied at "any troops at all" were sent to the prison in Qostanay.
ASTANA -- A Kazakh prison official has denied a report that troops were deployed to a maximum-security jail, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The opposition Socialist Movement said today that troops were sent to the UK 161/2 jail in northern Qostanay Oblast on March 12.

It said that all the prisoners were forced to gather in the jail's central square and made to lie there face-down for some time.

Some prisoners' relatives who came to the penitentiary that day to visit them were not allowed to do so, but not permitted to leave either.

The movement's representatives said that the action was not provoked by any incident, and human rights activists are trying to clarify exactly what happened.

But Samal Ghadylbekova, spokeswoman for the Kazakh Committee for the Control of Penitentiaries (KUIS), told RFE/RL today that "no troops at all" were sent to the prison.

Ghadylbekova added that KUIS Deputy Chairman Talghat Akhmetov was currently visiting the penitentiary and "everything is calm and quiet in there."

Domestic and international human rights organizations have been closely following the situation in Kazakh prisons for some time now.

Kazakh activists say human rights are routinely abused in the country's prisons, and they have urged the authorities to improve prison conditions.

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