Russian news agencies reported that some protesters in the rare opposition rallies gathered in a central park in Kazakhstan's commercial capital of Almaty while others marched downtown in the capital of Nur-Sultan. They called for a boycott of June 9 presidential vote, chanting "We have a choice!" and "For fair elections!"
Live footage broadcast by Radio Free Europe showed riot police snatch several dozen protesters from the crowd in Nur-Sultan and shove them into police vans. Kazakhstan's long-time leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, abruptly resigned in March, a move seen as an orchestrated handover of power to his hand-picked successor. The ruling party last week nominated a Nazarbayev ally, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, to run for president in the early election.
The protesters on Wednesday were also rallying against the recent decision to rename the capital of Astana to Nur-Sultan to honor the outgoing president.