Kazakhstan’s parliamentary election was billed as a prelude to political liberalization in the energy-rich Central Asian state. But just the opposite has occurred in the days since the voting.
Authorities in Astana now appear to be in full crackdown mode. On January 23, Vladimir Kozlov, leader of the unregistered Alga! opposition party, and Igor Vinyavskiy, editor of the Vzglyad newspaper, were arrested amid raids on their Almaty homes and offices. Other critics of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration were detained for questioning. The ostensible reason for Kozlov’s and Vinyavskiy’s arrests was suspicion of helping to stoke unrest in the western city of Zhanaozen. At least 17 people were killed in Zhanaozen-related violence.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.