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Would-Be Protesters Detained In Kazakhstan Ahead Of Banned Rally

Dozens Detained In Kazakhstan Ahead Of Banned Rally
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Video: Dozens detained in Kazakhstan ahead of rally.

ASTANA -- Dozens of people have been detained in cities across Kazakhstan in connection with an unsanctioned protest organized by the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.

Police on June 23 set up barricades in the country's largest city, Almaty, around the proposed protest site and were searching and questioning anyone who tried to enter the area. RFE/RL correspondents on the scene report that at least 10 people were detained and taken away in a police bus.

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There was a similar scene in the capital, Astana, where police also detained more than 10 people in the area where the rally was to be held. A representative of the local prosecutor's office was seen telling people to leave the area because the gathering was not sanctioned by the government.

Detentions were reported in other cities as well, including Uralsk in the West Kazakhstan region. In that city, RFE/RL correspondent Sanat Urnaliev was detained by police for more than six hours before being freed.

Detentions of would-be protesters also occurred in the southern city of Shymkent.

Kazakh police detain a protester in Almaty.
Kazakh police detain a protester in Almaty.

The total number of people detained around the country by authorities is unclear.

The demonstration was called to push the government to guarantee free education for all Kazakhs.

Earlier in the week, the Prosecutor-General's Office published a statement warning citizens not to participate in unsanctioned demonstrations.

On June 19, authorities in the western city of Oral summoned four local journalists to police for questioning in connection with the planned protest. An RFE/RL correspondent in that city was also summoned to police after he interviewed on of the other journalists.

DVK is a project of former Energy Minister and banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, who came into conflict with the government and has been living abroad since 2009.

In March, a Kazakh court branded DVK an "extremist" organization and banned its activity in the country.