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Fake Kazakh Newspaper Hits Newsstands

2 June 2004 -- Fake copies of a Kazakh opposition newspaper were distributed in the commercial capital Almaty overnight, with stories that were beneficial to the government.

The "Assandi Times" newspaper has covered scandals involving government officials and also been an outlet for the opposition in Kazakhstan.

A fake "special edition" of "Assandi Times" hit newsstands today with one story that claimed the so-called Kazakhgate scandal, which involves alleged foreign oil company bribes to high-level Kazakh officials including President Nursultan Nazarbaev, was a fabrication. The "special edition" said the scandal was invented by former government officials now in the opposition camp.

The fake edition also printed a letter purportedly from a jailed opposition figure in which the author distanced himself from the current opposition in Kazakhstan.

(RFE/RL's Kazakh Service-Sharipzhan/RTR)