Kazakh authorities blocking news sites, social media to hinder protests

On May 9, after the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan opposition movement called on his supporters to take part in a protest rally, the country is facing Internet disruptions; activists and journalists are being detained.

Shortly before detention. 9 May 2019. Phot. Radio Azattyk

Since Wednesday, the Kazakh police have been on combat alert. The Prosecutor General’s Office warned citizens against showing up at unauthorized protests, Radio Azattyk reports.

On Thursday morning, many news portals and the website of the Kazakhstan Bureau for Human Rights were unresponsive. The participants also report about the lack of the mobile Internet at protes venues; social networks are out of whack.

“Unfortunately, blocking social media is an every day occurrence in Kazakhstan. In my opinion, it is done by the authorities, the police. They do not people to have access to online information,” Gulmira Birzhanova, a lawyer at the Legal Media Center, told Belsat.

Many web platforma, including Facebook, Youtube, Telegram, Whatsapp have been blocked, she says. According to her, it is nothing but a gross violation of human rights.

There are also reports about the hunt for journalists and activists. In Almaty, the local police detained Daniyar Maldobekov, a correspondent at vlast.kz. A number of civil activists claim the policemen are keeping watch over them.

Meanwhile, at least five people have been arrested during state-run Immortal Regiment rallies on the occasion of Victory day in Almaty and Nur-Sultan.

On May 1, protesters called on their compatriots to boycott the upcoming early presidential elections in the country. The current events have become the most sweeping protests since 2016.

‘I’m just standing!’ Kazakh police detain activist holding blank sheet of paper

On March 19, after three decades in power, Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned and appointed his close associate Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan, Acting President. Later, he proposed to nominate Tokayev for presidency. Early presidential elections are expected to take place on June 9, 2019.

Interestingly, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the retired leader’s daughter and ex-Head of the parliamentary committee on international relations, defense and security, was elected Chairperson of the Senate, the upper house of the Kazakh parliament, in March. Placing Nazarbayeva’s name in nomination turned to be one of the first decisions taken by Acting President Tokayev after his inauguration.

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