Kazakhstan: Authorities arrest leader of unregistered political party

ASTANA (TCA) — The leader of Kazakhstan’s unregistered Alash People’s Social Democratic Party, Syrym Abdirakhmanov, has been arrested on a series of criminal charges, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Abdirakhmanov’s lawyer, Tolegen Shaikov, told RFE/RL on December 4 that a court in Astana had ruled on December 1 that his client be held in pretrial detention for two months.

Shaikov says Abdirakhmanov was sued by an Astana city official and charged with distribution of false information, assaulting a public official, offending a public official, and obstructing justice.

The lawyer did not provide further details about the case.

Abdirakhmanov’s party in 2017 named itself after the first Kazakh political party — Alash — which existed from 1917 to 1920.

The Alash People’s Social Democratic Party positions itself as a centrist party of Kazakh youth, but it has never been officially registered.

The party says its main goal is “to preserve the country’s independence via an implacable fight against corruption, bureaucracy, and injustice.”

In February, the party said it was working “to save Kazakhstan in two years via anticorruption efforts and reforms.”

Opponents and rights groups say Kazakhstan’s 78-year-old President Nursultan Nazarbayev has systematically suppressed dissent and sidelined potential opponents in the country for decades, shoring up a grip on power that he has held since before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Sergey Kwan