The first exit-poll results from Kazakhstan point to an overwhelming victory for interim President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, who was handpicked by former authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbaev to be his successor, RFE/RL reports.
Hundreds detained in Kazakhstan as Toqaev leads exit poll
STEPANAKERT, JUNE 10, ARTSAKHPRESS: In an election marred by the arrest of hundreds of peaceful anti-government protesters, the first exit poll gave Toqaev 70.13 percent of the vote. Former journalist Amirzhan Kosanov was a very distant second with 15.39 percent in the poll, conducted by the Qoghamdyq Pikir Institute.
The first actual vote tallies are expected in the coming hours.
The June 9 snap presidential election in the energy-rich Central Asian country was carefully controlled, with Toqaev facing six virtually unknown candidates who had no comparable resources or support to Toqaev or the state apparatus that was behind his election campaign.
A wave of protests across Kazakhstan against the lack of fairness in the election continued on election day on June 9, with police acting quickly to end any rallies.
More than 100 protesters were detained in Astana Square in Kazakhstan's largest city of Almaty, as demonstrators called for a boycott of the election.
"We are demanding our constitutional rights guaranteed for us by the state through Kazakhstan's constitution and laws -- to exercise our freedom of speech," one male protester told Current Time in Nur-Sultan.
"I'm participating in a [protest] rally today to show my protest and boycott against the illegitimate election," a woman said.
RFE/RL correspondents also reported that some 500 people held an anti-government rally near the Palace of Youth in the capital, Nur-Sultan -- newly renamed after the former president.
They said that police detained some 100 protesters in the capital, including several foreign and local journalists covering the event. RFE/RL Kazakh Service correspondents Pyotr Trotsenko and Saniya Toiken were among them. They and several other journalists were later released; Toiken was detained on two occasions.