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Regional TV Director Alleges Kazakh Pressure

Bakhytzhan Ketebaev

Bakhytzhan Ketebaev

PRAGUE -- The director of a Central Asian satellite TV channel says Kazakh authorities began pressuring his company after it interviewed a former presidential son-in-law who'd fallen out of favor with President Nursultan Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Bakhytzhan Ketebaev heads the "K+" television company, which broadcasts news about Central Asia.

During a visit to Prague, Ketebaev told RFE/RL that he thinks recent Kazakh government pressure on K+ stems from a series of interviews with Rakhat Aliev, Nazarbaev's former son-in-law, who also served as Kazakh ambassador to Austria.

Ketebaev said Aliev's case made "many rich Kazakhs" realize the dangers of the current political system in Kazakhstan, which "protects neither rich nor poor, but one particular person in the government."

Ketebaev claimed that some people within Nazarbaev's policy-making circles want to establish the rule of law supported by a free media and an independent judiciary.

Ketebaev -- a former director of the independent Kazakh television and radio broadcasting company Tan -- added that Nazarbaev's government would be surprised to find out who sponsors his channel and how freedom of expression is developing in Central Asia.

In 2002, Tan was sold to a pro-governmental media holding company and turned into an entertainment channel.

Ketebaev established K+, which combines Internet and satellite broadcasting, in 2007.

Aliev has lived in Austrian exile since 2007, when investigations were launched into his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of two bank managers in Almaty.

In 2008, he was tried in absentia by a Kazakh court and sentenced to 40 years in jail for kidnapping, extortion, and treason.