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After Eurasian Economic Summit, RFE/RL Correspondent Released

Kazakhstan -- A logo with #FreeOrken hashtag shared by Facebook supporters of RFE/RL Kazakh service correspondent Orken Bissenov.
RFE/RL correspondent Orken Bissenov, (also known as Orken Zhoyamergen) was released on June 1 after spending four days in a Kazakh jail on charges of "minor hooliganism."

Bissenov was among three journalists who were arrested on May 27 in the town of Ilyinka, near Astana, while reporting on a protest against Kazakhstan's entry into the Eurasian Economic Union (EES).

Bissenov told RFE/RL's Kazakh service that he was denied permission to see his lawyer during his detention. He also reported being kept in a cold jail cell and being deprived of walks outside, in violation of the detention center's regulations.

Seven activists participating in the gathering were also sentenced to short jail terms.

Bissenov's arrest set off an advocacy campaign on social networks in Kazakhstan under the hashtag, "FreeOrken."

The arrests also attracted international media attention, as they came on the eve of the EES summit, during which Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev hosted his Russian and Belarusian counterparts -- Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka -- and concluded an agreement creating a regional trade block.

The media watchdog Reporters without Borders labeled the arrests "censorship," and condemned the sentences for sending "an intimidatory message to all other journalists.”