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Another Kazakh Activist Sentenced For Links To Banned Opposition Movement

Alia Zhaqypova demonstrates in support of political prisoner Mukhtar Zhakishev in Nur-Sultan in August 2019.
Alia Zhaqypova demonstrates in support of political prisoner Mukhtar Zhakishev in Nur-Sultan in August 2019.

NUR-SULTAN -- A Kazakh court has sentenced an activist to two years of "freedom limitation," a parole-like sentence, for having ties 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.

The Saryarqa district court in the capital, Nur-Sultan, sentenced 50-year-old Alia Zhaqypova on August 11 after finding her guilty of distributing online videos and other materials produced by the DVK.

Zhaqypova was also banned from taking part in public events and expressing her views on the Internet for three years.

She had pleaded not guilty and her lawyer said the court's decision will be appealed.

The day before, a court in the southern region of Turkistan sent activist Sabit Syzdyqbek to prison for violating the "freedom limitation" sentence he was handed in March for spreading the DVK's ideas on Facebook.

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

DVK is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank and outspoken critic of the government. Kazakh authorities labeled the DVK as "extremist" and banned it 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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