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Kazakhstan: With Election Over, Arrests Continue In Almaty

Kazakhstan: With Election Over, Arrests Continue In Almaty
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Protests in the Kazakh city of Almaty against the results of Kazakhstan’s June 9 presidential election ended today before they had even begun, with police scooping up demonstrators, activists, and passersby alike for detention.

More than 30 people were detained on and around Almaty’s Astana Square, a site earlier designated by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive leader of the banned Democratic Movement Of Kazakhstan, for protests against what opposition supporters consider a rigged election.

With 70.96 percent of the vote according to official preliminary results, Acting President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, ex-President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s designated successor, leads his closest rival, opposition politician Amirzhan Qosanov, by nearly 55 percentage points.

Turnout was 77.4 percent of Kazakhstan’s 11.94 million registered voters – a number that one opposition figure, former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, described to Current Time as “a victory for democracy” and “a protest vote” against ex-President Nazarbaev’s authoritarian policies.

In response to the detentions, Toqaev underlined at a June 10 news conference that Kazakhstan respects freedom of speech, but that protestors had behaved “inappropriately” by conducting “illegal” demonstrations and had “provoked” law enforcement. Police, he said, took “the necessary measures.”

The latest detainees add to the roughly 500 people police detained throughout Kazakhstan on election day. Over the next few days, these individuals will appear before judges on charges of participating in unsanctioned protests and disobeying law enforcement.

As on election day, several journalists were also among those taken to district police stations. Journalist Asem Zhapisheva told Current Time that police refused to explain to her why she was detained.

The Almaty city police were not available for comment about the reason for the detentions.

With reporting from Current Time, RIA Novosti

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