Kazakh police detain dozens at opposition rallies

Kazakh police detain dozens at opposition rallies
  • Clock-gray 13:39
  • calendar-gray 22 March 2019

Police arrested dozens of opposition supporters staging rallies in Kazakhstan’s two major cities on Friday, three days after the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to Reuters witnesses, ONA reports.

Nazarbayev resigned earlier this week, saying a new generation of leaders was needed.

Senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was made interim president. Nazarbayev’s daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva was elected speaker in Tokayev’s place.

Friday’s rallies in the capital Astana and in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city, were small, with dozens of participants. Protesters in Almaty carrying blue balloons - the emblem of opposition - mixed with crowds attending Nowruz festivities, a regional pre-Islamic holiday celebrated on the spring equinox, and soccer fans saluting Kazakhstan’s surprise victory over Scotland.

Although there were no slogans, chants or banners, some participants shouted they opposed Astana’s renaming. Tokayev, who assumed presidential powers until the current term ends in April 2020, said on Wednesday that Astana, the capital, would be renamed Nur-Sultan in Nazarbayev’s honor.

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