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Kazakh Court Upholds Libel Conviction On Newspaper

15 July 2004 -- A Kazakh court today upheld a libel lawsuit filed by the office of President Nursultan Nazarbaev against an opposition newspaper.

The court ruled that the Russian-language "Assandi-Times" defamed Nazarbaev's administration last month when it accused the administration of being responsible for a fake edition of the newspaper that reported opposition leaders planned to resign.

The court ordered the newspaper to publish a retraction of the accusation, and pay the president's office $365,000 in damages.

Editors of the "Assandi-Times" have said the lawsuit is an attempt to silence the newspaper ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

The opposition newspaper writes extensively about issues of corruption and media rights. Some of its journalists have been attacked and its offices have been set on fire.