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Two Jailed Kazakh Activists Start Hunger Strike To Protest Incarceration

The two activists were detained on the same day as dozens of other protesters were also arrested. (file photo)

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Two Kazakh activists jailed for taking part in an unsanctioned rally against newly elected President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev have launched a hunger strike in protest at their incarceration.

Lawyer Ermurat Muqanov told RFE/RL on July 11 that his clients, Qanat Turdaliev and Anuar Daniyarov, started their hunger strike a day earlier, demanding their immediate release.

On July 6, participants in a protest march in Nur-Sultan were confronted by uniformed and plainclothes police officers, and some were forcibly dragged to nearby buses.

The two activists were detained on the same day along with dozens of other protesters and sentenced to 10 days in jail each.

Most of the individuals detained during the latest in a series of demonstrations against Toqaev were released hours later.

Interior minister Erlan Turghymbaev said earlier that a total of 100 protesters were detained in Almaty and the Central Asian country's capital, Nur-Sultan, on July 6, of whom 19 were sentenced to up to 15 days in jail, while 23 were fined for taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

Men appearing to be security agents tried to block RFE/RL reporters and cameramen from filming the detentions, using umbrellas to block their views. Some of RFE/RL’s video and broadcast equipment was damaged by unidentified men.

Protests also took place in Oskemen, Shymkent, Qaraghandy, and Oral, where detentions were also reported.

The protests were organized in part by the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, a banned political party that is backed by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a tycoon who has lived in exile since 2009.

Ablyazov has been an outspoken opponent of Kazakhstan’s governing elites. Last year, a court ruled that his party was an extremist organization and banned it.

The July 6 protests were the latest in series that have occurred with more frequency since longtime ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev abruptly resigned in March.

Toqaev, a Nazarbaev protege, formally won the election on June 9 in a vote that international observers said was marred by "detentions of peaceful protesters, and widespread voting irregularities on election day [that] showed scant respect for democratic standards."

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