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An opposition rally in downtown Almaty on March 24 drew only a couple of hundred demonstrators, indicating that a protest movement launched in the wake of violence in Zhanaozen in December and disputed parliamentary elections in January is losing momentum. Police abandoned the heavy-handed tactics they employed at a rally in February, keeping their distance and allowing the demonstration to proceed.
Protestors could not reach the planned demonstration site around a statue to Kazakh poet Abay, however, because it was cordoned off for a public celebration that some activists believed was arranged to thwart them. Music from that event drowned out prayers at the rally for those who died in Zhanaozen a symbolic 100 days ago, blasting through the minute’s silence observed in memory.