Opposition civil activist sentenced for ‘inciting hatred’ in Kazakhstan


ALMATY (TCA) — A court in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, has sentenced a former opposition group leader to two years of restricted freedom, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Olesya Khalabuzar, leader of the Spravedlivost (Justice) party, was sentenced on August 1 after she pleaded guilty to inciting ethnic hatred.

Khalabuzar, 39, told RFE/RL that she does not plan to appeal the sentence, which is, in effect, a suspended sentence with parole-like restrictions.

Khalabuzar’s party was established in 2015 and it has positioned itself in opposition to the Kazakh government. The party has not been officially registered.

In March, the party’s offices, Khalabuzar’s apartment, and her mother’s home were searched by police and afterwards she was charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

In May, Khalabuzar announced her decision to quit politics. Many suggested she was pressured into making the announcement.

“Looking back [on my life], I have decided to take a very important step and declare: I AM RENOUNCING PUBLIC ACTIVISM,” Khalabuzar wrote on her Facebook account on May 17. In her statement, Khalabuzar described the work of her Spravedlivost rights movement as “short-sighted” and “counterproductive,” and admitted to unspecified attempts to “blackmail government bodies”, EurasiaNet.org reported.

At the end of February, Khalabuzar was detained by the police and taken to a police station in Almaty to face questions about her involvement in protests against constitutional reforms affecting land ownership rights in Kazakhstan.

Sergey Kwan