Kazakh police on Thursday arrested anti-regime protesters ahead of next month’s presidential elections, amid numerous reports of popular news and social media sites being taken offline.
Correspondents said they witnessed six arrests in a central square in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, after calls for a protest at a World War II victory day parade.
A journalist for a Kazakh news Web site, Daniar Moldabekov, was arrested and held in police custody for an hour “without explanation,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
The arrests came after dozens of people were last week detained for calling for a boycott of the June 9 election, which they have said would extend decades of authoritarian rule.
France-based opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former banker and energy minister, had called for the protests.
Ablyazov is an outspoken adversary of 78-year-old former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who in March shocked the country by calling time on his presidency.
He is still seen as calling the shots in the oil-rich nation of 18 million people, but he handed over power to Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a former Kazakh Senate chairman and diplomat who is all but certain to win the election.
On Thursday, Internet users complained that many independent local news Web sites were inaccessible, as well as the Kazakh service of US government-funded Radio Free Europe.
Others living in Almaty, a city of 1.5 million, complained that mobile Internet services were not working.
Facebook, YouTube and Instagram were also inaccessible.
Reporters Without Borders condemned the “massive Internet censorship by Kazakh authorities.”
It also called on Tokayev “to break with the oppressive legacy of his predecessor.”
Nazarbayev, whose reign began three decades ago when Kazakhstan was still a Soviet republic, has been regularly criticized by rights groups for stifling dissidents and the free press.
The country, an ally of Russia and China, has never held an election judged free or fair by Western election monitors.
Nazarbayev triumphed in a 2015 election with nearly 98 percent of the vote.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
A man was left stranded on a glass-bottomed suspension bridge in northeastern China after sudden gale-force winds shattered the transparent panels around him. The man was on the 100m-high bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city, when it was hit by sudden strong weather, the local tourism department said. TRAPPED Gusts of up to 150kph blew out several glass panels, trapping the tourist until he could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. Photographs shared on social media showed the man clinging to the side of the bridge, surrounded by gaping holes where the
US actress Scarlett Johansson on Saturday urged the film industry to “step back” from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as criticism of the opaque film industry group, which controls the Golden Globe awards, continues to mount for sexism and racism. The Avengers star said in a statement that the “HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition.” Johansson said that “as an actor promoting a film,” participating in the organization’s news conferences and award shows “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on
‘COVERT’ ACTIVITY: The High Court ruled against a Chinese-born Australian former adviser to a state lawmaker, who allegedly advanced ‘policy goals of a foreign principal’ A Chinese-born Australian political adviser yesterday lost his challenge in Australia’s highest court against laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics. John Zhang (張智森) also lost his Australian High Court challenge in a unanimous decision of seven judges to the validity of search warrants executed by police at his Sydney home and offices last year as part of an investigation into illegal foreign interference on behalf of China. Zhang was an adviser to New South Wales Lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane, whose membership in the opposition Labor Party was suspended after he was also the target of police raids. The raids in June last