Tue, 15 Oct 2019

Police in Kazakhstan have broken up opposition rallies in several cities, including the capital Nur-Sultan, detaining dozens.

Police were out in large numbers ahead of the planned unsanctioned action on September 21 in Nur-Sultan, the capital, and Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, according to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service.

As crowds began to gather in both cities police quickly moved in to disperse them and make detentions.

According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, 57 individuals had been taken in altogether in Nur-Sultan and Almaty and could face fines or other legal actions for taking part in an unsanctioned event.

Rallies had been planned in smaller cities as well, including Shymkent, where RFE/RL's correspondent reports that at least 20 people were taken away by police.

WATCH: Live Stream Of The Kazakh Protests (natural sound)

The rallies were organized by Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice, which is banned and whose leader, Mukhtar Ablyazov, lives in self-imposed exile in France. He is wanted by Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine on suspicion of embezzling some $5 billion.

Kazahkstan's Prosecutor-General's office on September 20 warned people against attending the rallies, warning that law enforcement officers would take 'strict measures to prevent illegal rallies.'

'Destructive forces are... provoking threat to social security by trying to incite social and ethnic discord. The Prosecutor-General's office calls on the citizens to strictly follow laws, stay away from provocations and abstain from taking part in the illegal actions and activities of organizations banned on our country's territory,' Deputy Prosecutor-General Berik Asylov said in a statement.

/**/ /**/ /**/ SEE ALSO: Kazakhstan Doing Everything To Keep Zhanaozen Activists Away From Proposed Rally

The Almaty-based Coalition of Civil Initiatives human rights group said on September 20 that about 50 activists had been fined or sentenced to jail terms between 7 and 15 days in the last five days in Nur-Sultan, Almaty and several other cities on charges of organizing or taking part in unsanctioned rallies earlier this month.

Last year, a Kazakh court sentenced Ablyazov in absentia to life in prison for murder, a charge he also has denied and labeled politically motivated.

That ruling came after another Kazakh court had sentenced Ablyazov to 20 years in prison in absentia after convicting him of organizing and leading a criminal group, as well as abuse of office, embezzlement, and financial mismanagement.

Ablyazov has denied all of the charges and accusations, calling them politically motivated.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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