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Kazakh Court Upholds Prison Sentence Of Well-Known Rights Activist

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A court in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, has upheld the prison sentence of well-known civil rights activist Sanavar Zakirova, who says the case against her was politically motivated.

The Almaty city court on October 1 rejected Zakirova’s appeal and ruled that a lower court decision to sentence the activist to one year in prison was valid.

Zakirova, who is well known for her political and civil rights activities, was sentenced in mid-July after the Medeu district court in Almaty found her guilty of assaulting the daughter of a woman who had shouted vulgarities at a rally in March.

Zakirova has insisted that all of the accusations against her are groundless and politically motivated.

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Her relatives and lawyers have said that the administration of the detention center in Almaty where she is being held has imposed physical and moral pressure on her using other inmates.

Zakirova was an initiator of, and leading participant in, rallies in Almaty and Nur-Sultan last year by residents of Kazakhstan’s different regions, demanding action on what they called “wrong court decisions” in various cases.

In March 2019, Almaty city authorities denied Zakirova permission to hold a congress to establish a new political party, Our Right.

In November 2019, Zakirova and two other activists were found guilty by a court in Almaty of distributing false information about the ruling Nur-Otan party over the Internet.

They were ordered to pay the equivalent of $15,000 to the party. Zakirova and her supporters said then that the case was politically motivated.

Days later, Zakirova and three other female activists mocked Nur-Otan by staging a public action — asking worshippers outside a mosque in Nur-Sultan for money to help pay a fine to the ruling party.

Police detained the women then and fined them the equivalent of $32 each for causing a public nuisance.

Last month, Kazakhstan’s human rights organizations recognized Zakirova as a political prisoner.

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