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Kazakh Journalist Convicted Of Libeling Police


Valery Surganov in court on November 7

Valery Surganov in court on November 7

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh journalist has received an 18-month "restricted freedom" sentence after being found guilty of libel by an Almaty court, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Valery Surganov was also ordered by the court to pay a 100,000-tenge ($665) fine, publicly apologize to "Kazakh society," and issue a "corrected version" of his article.

Under his "restricted freedom" sentence, Surganov is forbidden from leaving Almaty and is restricted from entering public places.

Surganov was sued by financial police in the northern Pavlodar Oblast for the second part of his article "The Knights of the Financial Police," which was issued on the opposition guljan.org website this summer.

The investigative article alleged malfeasance by financial police in Astana. A criminal case against Surganov was launched on July 20 after the deputy chief of the Pavlodar Oblast financial police, Sanzhar Aliev, sued him for libel.

Some media in Kazakhstan alleged that Aliev's suit against Surganov was caused by a power struggle between the Committee for National Security (KNB) and the financial police.

But guljan.org chief editor Gulzhan Ergalieva told RFE/RL those allegations "are absolutely baseless."

Surganov pleaded not guilty. He said in court on November 7 he planned to appeal the verdict.
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