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More Kazakh Activists Sentenced For Links To Banned Opposition Movement

Lazzat Dosmambetova protests in Shymkent in February.
Lazzat Dosmambetova protests in Shymkent in February.

Two more Kazakh activists have been sentenced to "restricted freedom," a parole-like sentence, for having links to the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement amid an ongoing crackdown on supporters of the opposition group and the associated Koshe (Street) party.

On September 15, a court in the southern city of Shymkent sentenced Lazzat Dosmambetova to 30 months of restricted freedom and barred her from involvement in public activities for five years after finding her guilty of the "creation of a branch of a banned group and taking part in its operations."

Dosmambetova rejected the charges as politically motivated and said she will appeal the court's decision.

The day before, a court in Nur-Sultan, the capital, sentenced activist Altyn Lesbaeva to two years of restricted freedom after convicting her of having links to the DVK and the Koshe party and propagating their ideas.

Altyn Lesbaeva
Altyn Lesbaeva

Lesbaeva was also barred from taking part in public activities for three years. She refused to admit guilt and vowed to appeal the ruling as well.

Many activists across the Central Asian country have been handed lengthy prison terms or parole-like "restricted freedom" sentences in recent years for their involvement in the activities of the DVK and Koshe, as well as for taking part in the rallies organized by the two groups.

DVK is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive former head of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank and an outspoken critic of the government. The authorities labeled the DVK extremist and banned the group in March 2018.

Human rights groups have said Kazakhstan's law on public gatherings contradicts international standards, as it requires preliminary permission from the authorities to hold rallies and envisions prosecution for organizing and participating in unsanctioned rallies, even though the constitution guarantees citizens the right of free assembly.

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