RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
QASKELEN, Kazakhstan -- A court in southern Kazakhstan has handed a parole-like sentence to an activist for his links with the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement amid an ongoing crackdown on individuals supporting the opposition group and its associate, Koshe (Street) party.
The Qarasai district court in the Almaty region on May 14 sentenced Abaibek Sultanov to one year of "freedom limitation" after finding him guilty of participating in the activities of the DVK.
The court also sentenced the 45-year-old activist to 100 hours of community work.
Sultanov's lawyer, Zhanar Balghabaeva, told RFE/RL that her client rejects the charge and will appeal the sentence.
Several activists across the Central Asian nation have been handed lengthy prison terms or "freedom limitation" sentences in recent years for their involvement in the activities of the DVK and the Koshe party, as well as for taking part in the rallies organized by the two groups.
The DVK is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the fugitive former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank and an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government. Kazakh authorities labeled the 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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