Kazakh Activist Charged With Assaulting Police Officer Goes On Trial


ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh civil rights activist Asya Tulesova has gone on trial on charges of assaulting and verbally insulting police during an unsanctioned rally in Almaty in June.

The Medeu district court in the Central Asian nation's largest city, Almaty, on August 3 opened the trial via video link due to coronavirus restrictions.

Tulesova, 36, was arrested two days after she took part in an unsanctioned demonstration on June 6.

Investigators say that Tulesova knocked off a police officer's hat, when law enforcement officers were using force while detaining protesters at an unsanctioned rally in Almaty.

She faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

Police in Kazakhstan detained more than 100 protesters on June 6 in response to separate calls from two opposition groups, the unregistered Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the banned Democratic Movement of Kazakhstan, for nationwide peaceful gatherings.

Tulesova's lawyers called her pretrial detention unlawful, saying that Kazakh criminal-procedure law envisages pretrial detention only in cases in which the charges carry a minimum five-year sentence.

In April 2019, Tulesova, known for her civic engagement and environmental activism, gained broader notoriety in the country for holding up a banner during the Almaty marathon with the words, "You can't run from the truth."

She and her friend Beibarys Tolymbekov were later sentenced to 15 days in jail at that time for violating Kazakhstan's restrictive public-assembly law.

Human Rights Watch has urged Kazakh authorities to drop all charges against Tulesova and immediately release her from custody.