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Kazakhstan18 August 2004

Sergei Duvanov released early for "good conduct"

The release of journalist Sergei Duvanov was ordered by an Almaty regional court on 16 August because of "good conduct" after serving half his three-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Most of his civil and political rights were restored but he is banned from attending some public events because he was jailed for allegedly raping a minor. He has been free on probation since 15 January but has not been allowed to leave Almaty and has had to report to the authorities each week.

15.01.2004 - Journalist and human rights activist released on probation

Journalist and human rights activist Sergei Duvanov has been released on probation after being imprisoned since October 2002. Duvanov was freed on 15 January following a court ruling on 29 December allowing him to return to his home in Almaty and resume his job at the International Bureau of Human Rights.

Reporters Without Borders welcomes this easing of the journalist’s sentence but considers that his guilt has never been proved and that the verdict, against someone who constantly suffered harassment, had been political.

Duvanov, editor of the newsletter Human Rights in Kazakhastan and the world, published by the International Bureau, was serving a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence for alleged rape of a minor.

He was arrested on 28 October 2002 and sentenced by an Almaty court on 28 January 2003 after an investigation and trial that were riddled with irregularities. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) which sent experts to the trial, reported that the rights of the defence had been violated and the journalist’s guilt had not been established.

Duvanov was held in the Zarechnoye penitential colony, near Almaty. His prison conditions deteriorated between July and September 2003: his notebooks and pens were confiscated; he stopped receiving parcels and letters from outside; his own letters did not arrive and he was unable to telephone, officially for technical reasons. On 5 September the prison authorities refused a member of his family the right to visit him.

The day after he was accused the journalist had been due to leave for the United States to present a report on democracy and human rights Kazakhstan. He was reputed to be one of the country’s most critical journalists towards the authorities. He frequently spoke out against harassment of the independent media and the opposition and is also still facing legal action for impugning the honour and dignity of President Nursultan Nazarbaïev. He was badly beaten up by thugs on 28 August 2002.

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