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Kazakh Interior Minister Says Police Detained More Than 100 Protesters On July 6

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NURSULTAN Kazakhstan’s interior minister says a total of 100 protesters were detained in the Central Asian country’s two largest cities on July 6.

Erlan Turghymbaev said on July 9 that 19 of the protesters detained in the capital, NurSultan, and the southern city of Almaty were sentenced to up to 15 days in jail, while 23 were fined for taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

Most of those detained during the latest in a series of demonstrations against newly elected President QasymZhomart Toqaev were released hours later.

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

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 is a longtime, outspoken opponent of Kazakhstan’s governing elites. Last year, a court ruled the 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 Nazarbaev abruptly resigned and named a successor.

Toqaev formally won election as president 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.”

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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