NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Dozens of Kazakh opposition and civil rights activists have gathered in the center of the capital, Nur-Sultan, and the country’s biggest city, Almaty, to call for more rights and demand that all political prisoners be released, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports.
More than 100 people are protesting in Almaty and dozens more in Nur-Sultan on December 16, Kazakhstan’s Independence Day.
The date also coincides with the 33rd anniversary of mass anti-Soviet demonstrations in Kazakhstan’s former capital, Almaty, and the eighth anniversary of a deadly police crackdown against protests by oil workers in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen.
The protesters in Almaty and Nur-Sultan chanted slogans such as, “Wake up, Kazakhstan.”
Local officials called on the demonstrators to stop the rallies, saying they were unsanctioned.
About a dozen people, including journalists, were detained by police across Kazakhstan ahead of the demonstrations.
The opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement established by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive tycoon and opposition politician, had announced plans to organize rallies in the two cities and elsewhere in Kazakhstan.
A court in Kazakhstan has banned the DVK movement, branding it an extremist organization.