On June 30, a public rally for freedom of peaceful assembly and democratic reforms was held at the square behind Sary Arka cinema in Almaty. The rally was initiated by Alnur Ilyashev, an activist who had filed 35 requests for holding a rally to Almaty Mayor’s office (“akimat”).
All his previous requests had been denied by the authorities, so the activist took them to court but lost all the lawsuits. On 36th time Ilyashev finally got a permission to hold a rally in Almaty.
Before and during the rally, a considerable number of police and specialized vehicles was accumulated around the square: squad cars, minibuses, police vans and tow trucks.
Several hundreds of citizens participated in the rally. Among them were members of democratic, environmental and feminist movements and associations.
Young people made up over a half of the crowd. A significant part of protesters was from creative class: artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers. Many people held up banners with slogans in Kazakh, Russian and English.
At the beginning, while people were gathering, some popular protest songs sounded from speakers: “Changes” by KINO, “The Song in the Name of Nazarbayev” by Anuar Nurpeisov and “I am dying in Nur-Sultan” by Opia, an indie duo from Almaty.
Apart from appeals for freedom of assembly and abolition of the permission-based system for rallies, people called for political reforms, ban on the construction of nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan, release of political prisoners, end of the policy of suppression of peaceful assemblies by the police, and the end of mass illegal detentions.
Among the speakers were Rysbek Sarsenbayev, activist Asya Tulesova, jounalist Yermurat Bapi, human rights activist Marzhan Aspandiyarova, poet Samat Jamayev, journalist Assem Zhapisheva and others.
The rally concluded with the crowd singing Kazakhstan’s national anthem.
Photographs by Malika Autalipova and Timur Nusimbekov.