Kazakh MP loses seat after speaking in support of Russia

ASTANA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A Kazakh political party kicked out one of its parliament deputies on Thursday after he supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine in an interview.

Member of Parliament Azamat Abildayev told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty this month he supported what Russia calls the "special military operation" in Ukraine and described the Kyiv government as "Nazis", repeating a Kremlin talking point.

The Kazakh government, despite its traditionally close ties with Moscow, has not supported the invasion or recognised the annexation of Ukrainian territories by Russia, and has called for peace.

On Thursday, the Ak Zhol party to which Abildayev belongs said it had discussed his comments at a meeting and decided to expel him and ask the central election commission to revoke his mandate.

The party said in a statement "it always respects and supports the independence and territorial integrity of our Republic and other friendly states".

Although formally an opposition party, Ak Zhol largely toes the government line on key issues.

And, with more Kazakhs supporting Ukraine in the conflict rather than Russia, according to a poll published last month by local pollster Demoscope, Abildayev's comments could hurt Ak Zhol's prospects in a snap parliamentary election expected in the coming months.

Reporting by Tamara Vaal Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Kim Coghill

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