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Dozens detained in anti-government protest in Kazakhstan

July 6, 2019
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Kazakhstan's police officers detain a protester during a rally in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Local media say more than one hundred people have been detained at anti-government rallies in Kazakhstan. (AP Photo)

MOSCOW (AP) — More than one hundred people have been detained at anti-government rallies in Kazakhstan on Saturday amid a continuing wave of public discontent over a perceived orchestrated handover of power.

Protests first rocked this Central Asian nation in the spring, when long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev abruptly resigned and named a successor to replace him. Many in Kazakhstan viewed the move as an attempt by Nazarbayev and his allies to cement their grip on power. Nazarbayev’s ally Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won 70 percent of the vote in a snap presidential election last month. More than 4,000 people were detained in anti-government protests across the country around election day.

Protests erupted anew on Saturday, which is Nazarbayev’s 79th birthday.

Independent website Vlast.kz reported that up to 100 people were detained in the center of the country’s biggest city, Almaty. Police blocked traffic in the area of the Almaty protest called for by exiled tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fierce opponent of the ruling elite.

Footage from the scene showed police snatching individuals from the crowd. Some of them appeared to be underage.

The KazTag news agency reported several teenagers among those detained. It also said police officers were threatening reporters who were trying to interview the protesters. KazTag and other media outlets reported that internet connection appeared to have been blocked in the protest area in Almaty.

The Interfax news agency also reported dozens of detentions in the capital Nur-Sultan as well as Shymkent, Karaganda and Oral.

Kazakhstan authorities earlier warned citizens against taking part in the unsanctioned rallies, dismissing Ablyazov’s call as an attempt to provoke a violent police response.

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