: RFE/RL: Land issue Mars unity on Kazakhstan's National Unity Day

12:17 May. 3, 2016

RFE/RL: Land issue Mars unity on Kazakhstan's National Unity Day

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev speaks after casting his ballot in Astana, Kazakhstan, Sunday, March 20, 2016 (AP Photo)

Protests against the land privatization continue in Kazakhstan

Demonstrations in Kazakhstan spread over the weekend when events that were intended to be celebrations of National Unity Day instead turned into protests against the planned privatization of land in the country.

Read also Kazakh leader evokes Ukraine as land protests spread

Despite prohibitions against unsanctioned rallies, since April 24 Kazakhstan has seen demonstrations against the proposed privatization of land in the major cities of the east (Astana and Almaty ), in oil towns in the west (Atyrau and Aktau), in towns in the north (Aktobe and Semey), and in the south (Shymkent).

But on National Unity Day, May 1, there were also demonstrations in Zhanaozen, the scene of a violent protest on Kazakhstan's Independence Day in 2011 that left 17 people dead, and in Kyzylorda, an agricultural region in south-central Kazakhstan.

Watch also Domestic airline plane makes emergency landing in Astana, Kazakhstan

Videos of the demonstration in Zhanaozen showed some heated exchanges between demonstrators and local officials, although aside from that the protest was peaceful. Footage posted on the Internet of the demonstration in Kyzylorda, however, showed police there forcibly dispersing protesters.

A video on the website of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, known locally as Azattyq, shows Kyzylorda Province Governor Serik Kozhaniyazov addressing a group of several dozen demonstrators inside a theater.


But a video posted on YouTube shows a group of young men who appeared to be taunting a line of police in riot gear. Police finally charge at the group and people scatter in different directions. No shots were fired, but the images are similar to those seen during the 2011 fiasco in Zhanaozen.

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