Kazakhstan detains three over separatist calls

Security officials in Kazakhstan have detained three people over separatist calls in a northern region on the border with Russia, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutors said they are accused of seeking to violate the country’s territorial integrity and other crimes.

The members of a group called the People’s Council were held on Tuesday and placed in pre-trial detention for two months, prosecutors said in a statement.

Police opened a probe in late March after a video emerged in which a group of activists from the city of Petropavlovsk said they did not recognize the authority of Kazakhstan.

They called for the re-establishment of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, the country’s former name when it was part of the Soviet Union.

The city of about 200,000 people, most of whom are ethnic Russians, is located in northern Kazakhstan near the Russian border.

Russia’s assault in Ukraine has stirred fresh concerns about separatism in Kazakhstan, which has a sizable Russian population.

The Central Asian country, which has the longest land border with Russia, has welcomed Russians fleeing military service and called for a diplomatic resolution to the war.

Russian state propagandists have repeatedly warned that northern Kazakhstan could become the next target of the Kremlin’s expansionist ambitions.

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