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Kazakhstan9 December 2005

Police again seize issue of leading opposition weekly

Police yesterday confiscated all 100,000 copies of the latest issue of Juma-Times, Kazakhstan’s leading opposition weekly, as they came off the press. The grounds given for the seizure, the third since late October, were “illegal distribution.”

The Kazakh authorities know what is in the newspaper before it appears on the stands and are therefore able to prevent its distribution whenever they like because the only company that agreed to print it after Vremia Print terminated its contract in September was the Daouir printing press, which is run by President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s sister-in-law, Svetlana Nazarbayeva.

Yesterday’s seizure was probably prompted by an article about the so-called “Kazakhgate” scandal involving money allegedly paid to President Nazarbayev by a U.S. businessman for oil contracts, and an article about alleged fraud during the 4 December presidential election.

The previous confiscations were on 20 October and 3 November, during the height of the election campaign, when the grounds given were “attack on the honour and dignity of the President of Kazakhstan.”


Copies of opposition newspaper seized for second week running

27 October 2005

Police in the Medeu district of Almaty last night seized 30,000 copies of the opposition newspaper Svoboda Slova containing a report about the business practices of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s daughter, Alia.

“We had a special report in this issue headlined ‘How Alia Nazarbayeva does business’,” said editor Gulzhan Yergaliyeva. “It described the illegal activities of the president’s youngest daughter’s company, which led to Alautransgaseast going bankrupt. We think the harassment of our newspaper stems from a desire to cover up the Nazarbayev family’s corrupt business activities.”

Last night’s seizure comes a week after police confiscated 50,000 copies of the preceding issue because it allegedly contained an “attack on the president’s honour.”


Press freedom under threat in run-up to presidential elections

24 October 2005

In the space of one week, in Kazakhstan, an opposition Internet site has been banned, five journalists have been arrested and released and two editions of independent newspapers have been seized.

"There have been too many violations of press freedom in the country in the past few days, as the government attempts to gag all those who could embarrass it ahead of the 4 December presidential poll," said Reporters Without Borders.

“Steps must be taken to allow the opposition to have its say during this pre-election period”, the worldwide press freedom organisation added.

Opposition website Navi.kz, formerly Navigator.kz has come in for escalating harassment. On 13 October, the Kazakh network information centre (KazNIC), that runs .kz (the equivalent of .fr), cancelled the domain name Navi.kz, forcing the site to change its address to navikz.net. On 14 October a court in Almaty banned the domain names "Navigator" and "Navi" in both the Cyrillic and Roman alphabets. The editorial board again changed the name, to Mizinov.net.

Elsewhere on 19 October, five journalists were arrested in Almaty, during a search of the main opposition movement "For a Just Kazakhstan". Saya Issa, of the daily Svoboda Slova , Olesya Gassanova and Almas Nurdos of news portal Stan.kz , Ruslan Sapabekov, of the weekly Jouma-Times and Eldess Myrzakhmetov, of the weekly Soz-Respublika , were arrested without explanation, and their lawyer was refused to the right to see them.

Three of the five journalists, forced by police to destroy all the shots of the incident, were quickly released. The other two journalists were held for several more hours.

On the same day, police in the Medeu district of Almaty seized 50,000 copies of the opposition daily Svoboda Slova, accused of "damaging the honour of the president", Nursultan Nazerbaiev, after the daily published a word-for-word exchange between the Kazakh head of state and a CNN journalist who had asked him if he wasn’t just a "simple dictator."

Editor of Svoboda Slova, Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, nevertheless managed to recover the remaining copies from the headquarters of the movement "For a Just Kazakhstan".

The prosecutor’s office let it be known that it planned to confiscate the rest of the copies of the daily with the help of Interior Ministry special forces.

Finally, on 20 October, police seized all copies of the weekly Jouma-Times, after surrounding the print works of Daouir that also publishes Svoboda Slova.




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