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Released From Jail, Kazakh Journalist To Promote Human Rights


Kazakh journalist Ramazan Esergepov at his first press conference following his release from prison.

Kazakh journalist Ramazan Esergepov at his first press conference following his release from prison.

ALMATY -- A Kazakh journalist who was recently released from jail says he will run the Almaty-based NGO Journalists in Trouble, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Ramazan Esergepov, the former chief editor of the weekly "Alma-Ata Info," was released from jail on January 6 after serving three years for publishing articles he wrote about alleged links between a Kazakh businessman and the National Security Committee (KNB).

Esergepov and rights organizations protested his conviction, saying it was politically motivated.

"Alma-Ata Info" -- which he had founded -- was closed down shortly after he was arrested in January 2009.

Esergepov told journalists in Almaty on January 9 that Journalists in Trouble Chairwoman Rozlana Taukina offered him her post as head of her organization and he accepted the offer.

Esergepov said that in addition to his jail term, his sentence prohibits him from working as a journalist for two years after his release from jail. He said that due to this ban he will be involved in activities related to human rights.

Esergepov added that all opposition groups and parties in Kazakhstan should withdraw their candidates from the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 15 in order to commemorate the victims of shootings by police in the western town of Zhanaozen last month.

Officials say 17 people were killed there and in a nearby town, but others say many more died in the incident.

Esergepov is a recipient of the 2011 Hellman-Hammett Grant. The award is administered by the Human Rights Watch organization and is given to writers and journalists who have been subject to political persecution and are in financial need.

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