Another Former Parliamentary Candidate Detained In Kazakhstan Amid Crackdown

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Opposition activist Madina Koketaeva, who unsuccessfully took part in March 19 parliamentary elections, has been detained in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, amid an ongoing crackdown over dissent following the balloting.

A friend of Koketaeva, Zhibek Amenova, told RFE/RL that police detained the activist on April 14.

“She received a subpoena ordering her to come to police for questioning at 5 p.m. today, but police detained her early in the morning,” Amenova said, adding that Koketaeva’s detention was linked to her participation in an unsanctioned rally on April 9 challenging the official results of parliamentary elections.

Since the vote, several activists and participants in the balloting have been detained as the government clamps down on shows of opposition to an election easily won by the main ruling party.

On April 13, noted opposition activist Rysbek Sarsenbaiuly was arrested and hours later ordered to pay a 120,000 tenge ($265) fine for taking part in the same rallies. A day before that, courts in Almaty sentenced opposition politician Mukhtar Taizhan and activist Alnur Iliyashev to 15 days in jail each on similar charges.

That came after a court in the northwestern city of Oral sentenced journalist Luqpan Akhmedyarov to 15 days in prison over his participation in April 9 rallies protesting the results of the parliamentary elections.

Koketaeva, Akhmedyarov, and Taizhan unsuccessfully participated in the March 19 balloting as independent candidates. The ruling Amanat party won a majority of seats in the elections, which many independent candidates and opposition activists called rigged, citing the improper counting of ballots and government pressure on public employees to vote for certain parties.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had an observer mission present at the elections, noted after the vote that “limits on the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms remain and some political groups continue to be prevented from participating as political parties in elections.”

While the voting “was organized in a smooth manner overall,” the OSCE said “significant procedural irregularities were observed.”

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