October 11, 2012 11:20
Alga Kazakh opposition party to stand up in defense of its imprisoned leader
MOSCOW. Oct 11 (Interfax) - The Alga Kazakh unregistered party has called the sentence handed down to its leader, Vladimir Kozlov, a blow to democratic forces of the country.
"This political reprisal aims not only to isolate one of the brightest and strongest opposition politicians but also to hammer a new blow on democratic forces in Kazakhstan," the party said on Thursday.
The imprisonment of Kozlov is an attempt of the authorities "to relieve themselves of the responsibility for the Zhanaozen tragedy and to escalate the atmosphere of fear and servility in the society," the party said. "Their final goal is to suppress the growing protests and to ensure internal political stability through complete disregard of rights and freedoms of the people of Kazakhstan," it said.
"We will do the utmost to release our leader. We will form a public committee in his defense and we will urge the foreign public to set up a committee in defense of Kazakh political prisoners. We also call for the international recognition of Kozlov as a political prisoner and a prisoner of conscience," the party said.
On October 8, the Mangistau region's Court for Criminal Cases handed down a guilty verdict to Kozlov, activist of Ozenmunaigaz company workers' strike Akzhanat Aminov and opposition member Serik Sapargali.
Kozlov was convicted of establishing and leading a criminal organization, inciting social, ethnic, racial and religious hatred and calling for the violent subversion of Kazakhstan's constitutional system. He was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison. His property will be confiscated.
Aminov was given a five-year suspended prison term with a four-year probationary period, and Sapargali received a four-year suspended prison sentence with a three-year probationary period.
Kozlov, Aminov and Sapargali went on trial in Aktau on August 16.
Kozlov and Sapargali were arrested in January 2012 on suspicion of inciting social hatred in the local town of Zhanaozen, where 15 people were killed and another 100 were injured as a result of mass riots in December 2011.
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