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Police In Kazakhstan Detain Activists, Journalists For Second Day

Kazakh human rights activists demonstrate in Almaty on December 16.
Kazakh human rights activists demonstrate in Almaty on December 16.

ALMATY -- Police in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, detained several activists and journalists for the second day in a row on December 17.

Activists said on Facebook that police detained Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, the head of the human rights foundation Ar.Rukh.Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), lawyer Gulnara Zhuaspaeva, the founder of the opposition DAT newspaper Ermurat Bapi, civic activists Rinat Rafkhat, Erlan Qaliev, Suiyindik Aldabergenov, Geroikhan Qystaubaev, and several others.

Several activists were not allowed to leave their homes.

Police did not explain the reason for the detentions.

On December 16, police in Almaty briefly detained several human rights activists who attempted to celebrate the 27th anniversary of its independence from the former Soviet Union and to commemorate the victims of police crackdowns in 2011 and 1986.

The December 16 police crackdown came as activists attempted to gather near the Independence monument in central Almaty to commemorate people killed by police during oil worker protests in the western town of Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011 and during mass anti-Soviet demonstrations in Almaty in December 1986.

The activists told RFE/RL after they were released that police questioned them about their possible association with the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement established by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive tycoon and critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

A court in Kazakhstan banned the DVK movement in March, branding it an extremist organization.

Also on December 16, police in the city of Oral in the West Kazakhstan region detained journalists Maria Melnikova and Raul Uporov from the Uralskaya Nedelya newspaper.

The Adil Soz (A Just Word) media watchdog in Kazakhstan reports that police in Oral were also deployed outside the homes of the newspaper’s owner, Tamara Eslyamova, and its chief editor Lukpan Akhmedyarov.

Adil Soz says authorities were preventing Eslyamova and Akhmedyarov from leaving their homes.

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