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Kazakhstan: Rare Protest in Almaty Ahead of Election

Protesters at a small rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on March 18, 2016.

A handful of civil society campaigners staged a rare picket in Almaty on March 18, demanding freedom for a political activist sentenced to jail on incitement charges.

The protest took place two days before Kazakhstan votes in a snap parliamentary election, and was the first time activists had staged any such actions during a lackluster campaign for an election certain to be won by the ruling party of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“Freedom for Yermek Narymbayev,” chanted the five activists who took part in the picket on a pedestrian shopping thoroughfare in downtown Almaty.

They held up banners in Kazakh, English and Russian showing demands such as “Free human rights defender Yermek Narymbayev” and calling for the abolition of Article 174 of the criminal code under which he was jailed on charges of inciting ethnic strife.

The protest lasted approximately three minutes and attracted little attention on a quiet and rainy weekday morning.

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Kazakhstan: Rare Protest in Almaty Ahead of Election

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