Kazakhstan's president signs amnesty law following January riots

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By Euronews  with AFP
Riot police clashed with protesters in the centre of Almaty in January.
Riot police clashed with protesters in the centre of Almaty in January.   -   Copyright  Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP, File

Kazakhstan's president has signed an amnesty law for those arrested during the country's deadly riots earlier this year.

Around 1,500 citizens who committed minor offences during the clashes between 4 and 7 January will be released or have their criminal records erased, according to the bill.

This reportedly includes several police officers, who were accused of violence.

But Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has repeatedly warned that amnesty would not be granted to those who face the most serious charges, including "attempted coup".

Unprecedented demonstrations initially broke out in Kazakhstan over a rise in oil prices but later expanded into wider anger about living conditions in the central Asian country.

At least 238 people were also killed in the riots, which saw the country's influential former president Nursultan Nazarbayev ousted from positions of power. During the riots, Tokayev had ordered police to "shoot to kill" and also called in support from Russian-led alliance troops.

Kazakh authorities have stated that nearly 12,000 people were detained across the country in connection with January’s protests.

According to Kazakh prosecutors, nearly 900 of those arrested face various criminal charges, including mass rioting and acts of terrorism.

The amnesty law comes just weeks before an early presidential election on November 20, where Tokayev is seeking a second term.