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Police in Kazakhstan Shut Down News Conference

  • VOA News

Authorities in Almaty, Kazakhstan shut down a news conference Friday called by activists who were discussing plans for protests in the city against land reforms.

Police detained about a dozen activists outside Almaty's Press Club.

The incident follows protests across the country against government plans to privatize farmland beginning on July 1, 2016.

Although public protests are rare in Kazakhstan, hundreds have rallied in several cities since Sunday (April 24), out of fear that land reforms could allow foreigners to take over farmland, especially after the government announced several agreements with neighboring China on agricultural projects.

Reforms reportedly will allow the government to sell farmland to joint ventures, provided they are controlled by Kazakh citizens, but direct land sales to foreigners will still be banned.

The Kazakh prosecutor-general issued a warning Thursday, saying that it is a crime to spread "false information about land privatization."

Some analysts, however, have said that Kazakhs join in protests to express their general discontent with the government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been running the country since 1989.