Protesters detained for criticizing Kazakhstan’s vote

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Kazakhstan’s police officers detain a protester during an opposition rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, as voters in resource-rich Kazakhstan are going to the polls in a parliamentary election lacking any serious opposition. Dozens of activists were detained in at least three major cities, including the capital, Nur-Sultan, and Almaty, with reports of independent observers being denied access or detained at some polling stations. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov)

MOSCOW (AP) — Dozens of people protesting Kazakhstan’s opposition-free election were detained in the country’s capital and in its principal city, but were released after several hours.

Five parties are competing Sunday for seats in the lower house of parliament, but all are loyal to the government. The country’s only registered opposition party declined to field candidates.

More than 30 demonstrators were detained in the principal city of Almaty, according to the news agency Akipress. The Interfax news agency said more protesters were also detained in the capital, Nur-Sultan.

Deputy Interior Minister Arystangani Zapparov said late Sunday that all those detained had been released without charges.

The ruling Nur Otan party is expected to maintain or increase its current domination of the parliament of the former Soviet republic, which is rich in oil, gas and mineral resources.

The party is headed by former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was in power from independence in 1991 until his resignation last year.

Although he stepped down, he retains significant power as head of the national security council.

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