Kazakhstan's opposition parties held an authorized rally in Almaty on Sunday to demand an end to reprisals against newspapers which criticize the authorities.
Opposition leaders and mass media managers spoke about the importance of developing independent and opposition media. They argued that alternative viewpoints positively influence democratic processes, an Interfax correspondent reported.
The demonstrators also demanded strenuous measures to combat corruption and more journalist investigations into corrupt deals.
"The Prosecutor General's Office and law enforcement must defend the citizens' rights and liberties, instead of protecting the interests of corrupt bureaucracy," they said.
The rally adopted a resolution saying that "the authorities must appropriately respond to facts of corruption and bribery quoted in the press, and prosecute those whose corrupt conduct is damaging the state."
The rally was organized by the freedom of the press public committee and by the opposition newspaper Respublika, banned by the Kazakh authorities.
Kazakh Journalists' Union Chairman Saitkazy Matayev, who is a leader of the Congress of Kazakh Journalists, said that the Congress is prepared to offer legal support to the newspaper which had appealed the authorities' moves.
Despite rainy weather, the rally had been joined by about 1,500 demonstrators. It lasted for about 90 minutes. No incidents were reported. Police watched the rally and did not intervene.
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