A court in the Kyrgyz capital has fined an ethnic Russian journalist the equivalent of $1,100 for publishing articles it considers to be incitements to ethnic hatred.
The Pervomaysky district court in Bishkek ruled that Vladimir Farafonov had insulted the Kyrgyz people, but it rejected the eight-year jail sentence sought by prosecutors.
Farafanov did not attend the July 3 court session out of concerns for his safety.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic expressed regret at the verdict.
“I have been following this case since its onset and raised it in a letter to Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbayev on 14 March. Although I am relieved that the court did not follow the recommendations of the public prosecution and did not sentence Farafonov to eight years in a penal colony, I believe that yesterday’s verdict might negatively influence the journalistic community in Kyrgyzstan,” Mijatovic was quoted as saying in a statement
“I commended the Kyrgyz authorities when they decriminalized defamation in July last year, which was an important step forward. I strongly believe that while following standards of professional ethics, journalists should be able to write on sensitive issues.”
Ethnic tensions have been high in Kyrgyzstan since major clashes in the south between Kyrgyz and minority Uzbek communities left hundreds dead and many thousands homeless.
Based on reporting by AP, RFE/RL, and ITAR-TASS