Almaty, June 11: Police in Kazakhstan beat a journalist covering protests following election results that confirmed the hand-picked successor of historic leader Nursultan Nazarbayev as president, his employer said Tuesday.
Career diplomat Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who is a loyal ally of recently retired Nazarbayev, took 71 per cent of a Sunday ballot that was marred by a police crackdown and widespread voting irregularities.
Shokan Alkhabayev, a journalist from private news agency Tengri News was beaten by police late on Monday whilst attempting to cover detentions following a protest, the agency said. “Police officers attempted to obstruct the journalist of Tengrinews.kz (while he was) shooting a video, then tried to take his phone from him and hit” him several times, Tengrinews said early on Tuesday. New Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev Calls Snap Elections For June.
Footage shows Alkhabayev with a bruise on his face and a cut on his body after he said he was struck and kicked by officers whilst filming a police operation targeting protesters in Almaty, the country’s largest city. Police and military vehicles blocked off the road around the Sairan bus station as they attempted to catch hundreds of protesters who chanted “Oyan Kazakh” (Wake up Kazakh)and other slogans.
The several-hundred strong protest was initially in response to the detention of a popular poet, Rinat Zaitov, who had protested against Tokayev’s victory. Zaitov was released after hundreds gathered at the police station where he was held but the protests continued for several hours afterwards.
Eyewitnesses saw police detain several people in area surrounding the bus station. The interior ministry was not available for comment Tuesday. Around 500 people were arrested Sunday during protests against the vote in Nur-Sultan and former capital Almaty.
The country’s deputy interior minister blamed “radical elements” for the protests and Tokayev thanked police for putting the protests down. A number of journalists including two from AFP were also detained on Sunday before being released.