Street protests, against plans to step up land privatisation, were broken up by police in many of Kazakhstan’s largest cities on Saturday. The demonstrations were organised by informal on-line networks, rather than by any of the recognised opposition groups. Here are key points from a report by ANDREI GRISHIN, published here on the Fergana news site (in Russian):
Special rapid-reaction police detachments attacked small groups [of demonstrators] wherever they gathered. They grabbed everyone, regardless of gender, age and nationality. Dozens of journalists were arrested.
Kazakhstan had waited for the events of 21 May with bated breath. [Protesters had named that as a day of action after a previous wave of demonstrations had forced the government to pull back from planned land reforms. See an earlier report here.] The official media had railed against the protests. And it all ended – as it has so many times before – with the “slaughter of the innocents”, but this time more brutal than usual. The detention of dozens of journalists, including foreigners, was proof of that.
However, for the first time, people came out to protest all at once, in a number of cities and towns, without any leaders – because these leaders had either been arrested in advance, or had agreed to the authorities’ demands [after the previous demonstrations] and joined the [government’s] land commission.
[In Alma-ata in the south-east, the largest city in Kazakhstan and former capital, Read the rest of this entry »