The jailing of the leading opposition leader in Kazakhstan was slammed by the United States and human rights organizations Tuesday.
The U.S. State Department said that the jailing of Vladimir Kozlov means that Kazakhstan is using its “criminal system to silence opposition voices,” reported AFP.
A court in the Central Asian state said that Kozlov was trying to start a coup against longtime President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He received a 7.5-year-long sentence.
“Kozlov is paying a heavy price for publicly criticizing the Kazakh government,” Mihra Rittmann, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The court also ordered all of Kozlov’s assets to be seized, including his apartment, cars, and offices registered in his name.
The opposition leader was arrested in January after he took part in a protest staged by oil workers that descended into violence, leaving 15 people dead in the town of Zhanaozen near the Caspian Sea.
Kazakhstan’s general prosecutor told AFP, “Kozlov’s active involvement in Zhanaozen was one of the causes of the mass riots.”
“Experts have found evidence of stoking social hatred and calls for a violent government overthrow in the flyers distributed to the fired workers on Kozlov’s orders,” the prosecutor’s office added.
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