Kazakh Presidential opposition candidate Amirzhan Kossanov speaks to the media at a polling station during the presidential elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Sunday, June 9, 2019. Voters in Kazakhstan are choosing a successor to the president who had led the Central Asian country since independence from the Soviet Union, with a longtime loyalist expected to win easily. (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)
MOSCOW – The opposition figure who placed second in Kazakhstan's presidential election says he will work to solidify what he sees as a rising desire to challenge authorities in the country.
Amirzhan Kossanov polled only 16% in Sunday's vote, which elected a loyalist of Kazakhstan's longtime leader. Although the figure was numerically low, his showing seemed significant because opposition in the former Soviet republic is restricted.
Sizeable protests took place on and after election day, which police roughly dispersed. Saparbek Nurpeisov of the prosecutor-general's office said 957 people had been arrested in all, with 180 still in custody.
In a Friday statement on Facebook, Kossanov called for "institutionalization of the new wave of social activists, the new opposition, which will be able to participate in the struggle for power in new conditions."