The Prosecutor-General’s Office in Kazakhstan issued statements on May 27 labelling land protests in the country on May 21 as an attempted coup d’etat and warned citizens against spreading false information.
Kazakhstan has seen an unprecedented wave of protests provoked by recent amendments to the Land Code that many fear will encourage Chinese expansion into Kazakhstan and even the eventual loss of land to China. Though President Nursultan Nazarbayev has moved to defuse opposition by postponing the controversial provisions of the latest land reforms, a nationwide day of protested was called on May 21, when the police resorted to heavy-handed tactics arresting over 1,000 of people throughout the country.
The official statements on an attempted coup d’etat come after state-run TV channels, in particular Channel One Eurasia that is a joint venture between the Kazakh and Russian state-run broadcasting companies, had repeatedly tried to paint the protests as an attempt to overthrow the government in Kazakhstan.
The prosecutor-general had twice warned the population against taking part in unauthorised rallies, the statements read. “Despite this, certain individuals tried to ignore legislation on rallies and provoke people to take part in illegal [protest] actions”. “Their ultimate aim was not peaceful rallies and changes to the Land Code but destabilisation of the public and political situation, incitement of interethnic hatred and seizure of power,” the statement says.
“They knew very well that large-scale disorder may lead to pogroms, violence, looting and human casualties,” the Prosecutor-General’s Office said drawing parallels with Lybia, Syria and Ukraine. “Law-enforcement agencies are investigating a number of criminal cases now.”
Fifty-one people were charged with administrative offences, including four were arrested for administrative offences and 12 were fined.
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