Tue, 22 Sep 2020

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, has found civil rights activist Asya Tulesova guilty of assaulting and verbally insulting law enforcement officers and sentenced her to 18 months of freedom limitation -- a sentence with parole-like restrictions.

Tulesova was released right away after the Medeu District Court pronounced the ruling on August 12.

The court also ordered Tulesova to pay a 41,000 tenge ($100) fine.

A day earlier, prosecutor Erlan Qulanbaev had asked the court to sentence Tulesova to one year in prison.

Tulesova's lawyer, Dzhokhar Otebekov, said the verdict and the sentence will be appealed.

Tulesova has rejected the charges as politically motivated. But she has offered apologies to the six police officers who were involved in an altercation with her.

Tulesova, 36, was arrested two days after she took part in an unsanctioned demonstration in Almaty on June 6.

Investigators say Tulesova knocked the hat off of one police officer and verbally insulted his colleagues while they were forcibly detaining protesters at the rally.

More than 100 protesters were arrested at the June 6 rally, which took place after calls for peaceful, nationwide gatherings were made by two opposition groups: the unregistered Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the banned Democratic Movement of Kazakhstan.

Tulesova, known for her civic engagement and environmental activism, gained broad notoriety in Kazakhstan in April 2019 when she held up a protest banner during a marathon race in Almaty with the words, 'You can't run from the truth.'

Tulesova and her friend Beibarys Tolymbekov were later sentenced to 15 days in jail over that protest on charges of violating Kazakhstan's restrictive public-assembly law.

Human Rights Watch has urged Kazakh authorities to drop all charges against Tulesova and immediately release her from custody.

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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