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Kazakhstan: Authorities Adopt Heavy-Hand Approach on Land Issue

Civic activist Marzhan Aspandiyarova being dragged away by police while trying to speaking with journalists (Photo: Aigerim Toleukhanova)

A press conference in Almaty on the proposed plans to rent land to foreign investors had to be cancelled April 29 after police detained the organizers.

The heavy-handed effort to prevent a public discussion is highlighting the nervous state of a government that is flailing in its attempts to quell a wave of protests over the land issue.

Mukhtar Taizhan and Rysbek Sarsenbaiuly, who were set to speak at Almaty’s National Press Club, were forcibly denied from getting to the building by police. Rights activists filming the detention, like Galym Ageleuov, were themselves also hauled away by police.

Some time later, Sarsenbaiuly’s wife, Marzhan Aspandiyarova, did manage to reach the National Press Club to explain to  reporters what had happened to her husband, but the scene degenerated into chaos as she spoke. As journalists gathered around her to listen, several policemen barged in to physically drag her away into a waiting car.

“If you want to prosecute, go ahead. The land will not be sold,” Aspandiyarova yelled as she was being manhandled.

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Kazakhstan: Authorities Adopt Heavy-Hand Approach on Land Issue

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