Police officers searched office of pro-democracy youth group in Kazakhstan

Police in Kazakhstan raided the office of a pro-democracy youth group on Tuesday in what the group's leaders said was part of a government crackdown on opposition ahead of December's presidential election. About a dozen police officers searched the office of Kahar, or Hero, in the commercial capital Almaty on suspicion of anti-government activity, the AP reports.

Kahar takes inspiration from similar youth groups in other ex-Soviet nations. Youth activists in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan played an important role in mobilizing young people to protest flawed elections. Those demonstrations helped bring opposition leaders to power.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is seeking re-election in the Dec. 4 vote, has drawn accusations of authoritarianism during his 16-year rule in this oil-rich Central Asian nation.

His main challenger is Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, a former parliament speaker who leads a pro-democracy opposition alliance called For a Fair Kazakhstan.

Kahar leader Bakhytzhan Toregozhina said police told her Tuesday night's raid was prompted by complaints from several parents that she allegedly got their children involved in anti-government activity and was rewarding them with money from abroad. AM

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