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Kazakh Activist Sentenced For Links To Banned Political Group

TARAZ, Kazakhstan — A court in southern Kazakhstan has handed a parole-like sentence to an activist for her links with the banned Koshe (Street) Party, the second supporter of the opposition movement to be sentenced in less than a week.

The Taraz City Court No. 2 late on March 2 sentenced Zhazira Qambarova to two years of “freedom limitation” after finding her guilty of organizing and participating in the activities of the opposition Koshe Party, which has links with another outlawed party, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.

Qambarova was banned from using the media or the Internet to conduct political and social activities for five years. She also is not allowed to get involved in any political activities for two years.

The activist, who was charged in September 2020, acknowledged she was taking part in the Koshe Party’s activities but denied she had organized any of them.

She said she would appeal the ruling, claiming she was being persecuted for her public activities.

Several activists across the Central Asian nation have been handed “freedom limitation” sentences for their involvement in the activities of the Koshe Party and DVK, as well as for taking part in the rallies organized by the two groups.

On January 26, a Kazakh court sentenced a Koshe Party supporter, Qairat Sultanbek, to one year of “freedom limitation” after he was detained and charged in September.

DVK is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank and outspoken critic of the Kazakh government. Kazakh authorities labeled 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 authorities to hold rallies and envisions prosecution for organizing and participating in unsanctioned rallies even though the nation’s constitution guarantees its citizens the right of free assembly.

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