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Protesters detained for criticizing Kazakhstan’s vote

January 10, 2021 GMT
Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wearing a face mask and gloves to protect himself against coronavirus, casts his ballot at a polling station during a parliamentary elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo)
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Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wearing a face mask and gloves to protect himself against coronavirus, casts his ballot at a polling station during a parliamentary elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo)
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Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wearing a face mask and gloves to protect himself against coronavirus, casts his ballot at a polling station during a parliamentary elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo)

MOSCOW (AP) — Dozens of people protesting Kazakhstan’s opposition-free election were detained in the country’s capital and in its principal city, but were released after several hours.

Five parties are competing Sunday for seats in the lower house of parliament, but all are loyal to the government. The country’s only registered opposition party declined to field candidates.

More than 30 demonstrators were detained in the principal city of Almaty, according to the news agency Akipress. The Interfax news agency said more protesters were also detained in the capital, Nur-Sultan.

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Deputy Interior Minister Arystangani Zapparov said late Sunday that all those detained had been released without charges.

The ruling Nur Otan party is expected to maintain or increase its current domination of the parliament of the former Soviet republic, which is rich in oil, gas and mineral resources.

The party is headed by former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was in power from independence in 1991 until his resignation last year.

Although he stepped down, he retains significant power as head of the national security council.