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Kazakhstan: Prosecutors Seek Lengthy Jail Term for Land Protesters

Prosecutors in the trial of two activists in Kazakhstan accused of whipping up anti-land reform rallies have demanded jail sentences of up to eight years and a $1.5 million fine to be slapped on the men.

Lawyers acting for the state also argued on November 21 in the Aytrau court that Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan should be banned from engaging in public activity for three years.

If the court entertains anything near close to that request, it would send an ominous signal about the government’s willingness to tolerate any kind of public dissent, regardless of how peaceful it is.

Bokayev and Ayan staunchly deny they did anything wrong other than express their discontent at a law passed last year that would have led to the privatization of once-publicly owned land. In the absence of a public information campaign, a wave of peaceful but impassioned rallies were held in the spring, mainly in western Kazakhstan, over concerns that land might be the object of major buy-ups by foreign investors.

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Kazakhstan: Prosecutors Seek Lengthy Jail Term for Land Protesters

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