Kazakh authorities seize opposition newspapers

Kazakh authorities seized all copies of Thursday's edition of an opposition newspaper that carried front-page allegations about manipulation in last weekend's presidential vote, a deputy editor said. President Nursultan Nazarbayev was re-elected with 91 percent of the vote, according to the official results of Sunday's election in this ex-Soviet republic that Western observers said was flawed. An array of exit polls had indicated Nazarbayev would win with 70 percent to 80 percent of the vote. Nazarbayev's closest challenger Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, who won less than 7 percent, alleged fraud and called for the results to be thrown out.

Zhuma-Times' deputy editor Bakhytgul Makenbai said the weekly on Thursday also carried a story on developments in a corruption scandal in the United States that involves Nazarbayev's former U.S. adviser on oil contracts.

The former adviser, James Giffen, is accused of receiving bribes in negotiating oil deals in Kazakhstan for transnational companies. Makenbai said Zhuma-Times' 100,000 copies were seized by police without explanation before they left the printers in the commercial capital Almaty.

Police and prosecutors were not immediately available for comment. Opposition newspapers were repeatedly seized by authorities and their distributors faced harassment in the run-up to the election.

Nazarbayev, who has ruled the Central Asian nation since it was part of the Soviet Union, is credited for the nation's post-Soviet economic progress but is criticized for holding up democratic changes, reports the AP. I.L.

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