Authorities in Kazakhstan have handed jail terms and other penalties to nearly 1,000 people for taking part in protests over its recent presidential election.
The country saw some of the biggest demonstrations of recent years during Sunday’s vote and following the victory of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a hand-picked successor to former long-time ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The Kazakh prosecutor-general’s office said on Thursday that 957 people were found guilty of offences, 670 of whom were jailed while 115 have been fined and 172 issued warnings.
With a majority of those arrested either already set free or scheduled for release on Thursday, 218 remained in detention, according to official data.
The protesters were found guilty of taking part in illegal demonstrations and disobeying police, the statement said.
Saparbek Nurpeisov, an official at the prosecutor-general’s office, was quoted as saying that protesters “succumbed to provocations, began demonstrations and started attacking law enforcement officers”.
Fears of violent clashes brought life to a standstill in Almaty, Kazakhstan‘s biggest city, on Wednesday, when the latest protest took place.
The protesters accuse the government of running a staged vote in which Tokayev faced no real competition. They have called for the cancellation of election results.
The 78-year-old Nazarbayev, who had run the former Soviet republic for almost three decades, resigned in March, making Tokayev interim president and then backing his candidacy in Sunday’s snap election.
Nazarbayev retains sweeping powers and many observers regard Tokayev, a career diplomat, as little more than a figurehead.
Tokayev, 66, has called for dialogue and has said he will set up a special national council open to young activists, among others.