Today neither social nor mainstream media in Kazakhstan were reporting on orderly presidential elections. Instead, the media reports, tweets, and Facebook posts were about protests during the election – meant to usher in Kazakhstan’s new president and confirm former president Nursultan Nazarbaev’s legacy – noting “hundreds” detained, a British journalist being hauled into an Almaty police station, and riot police out in full gear.
Mass detention of peaceful protesters in Kazakhstan is nothing new. The actions police take to thwart and break up peaceful yet unsanctioned assemblies, including hauling protesters into riot police vans, are routine and have been well-documented over the years.
But it is not every day that peaceful protests coincide with Kazakhstan’s most notable election in recent years – an event that has drawn international observers and significant media attention to the country. Nor do police usually detain foreign journalists and rights workers when rounding up protesters.
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