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CPJ Urges Kazakhstan To Close Cases Against Activists

Vladimir Kozlov
Vladimir Kozlov
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the prosecution of media activists in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The New-York based group issued a statement calling for Kazakh officials to "immediately stop the unfounded prosecution" of Raushan Esergepova, the wife of jailed "Alma-Ata Info" newspaper editor Ramazan Esergepov; Rozlana Taukina, the head of the Kazakh nongovernmental organization Journalists in Trouble; and Vladimir Kozlov, the leader of the unregistered opposition group Alga.

Kozlov was found guilty on January 12 for violating a law on holding rallies and ordered to pay a fine of about $50. Esergepova's administrative trial began today, while the court case of Taukina was postponed indefinitely.

All three rally organizers said the charges against them are politically motivated.

CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said on January 11 that the Kazakh government "must demonstrate tolerance for freedom of expression that becomes their newly assumed role of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe chair."

The three organized a flash-mob protest on January 6 in central Almaty under the banner "Freedom To Journalists Convicted For Their Professional Activities," in support of jailed journalists, including Esergepov; "Vremya" newspaper correspondent Tohniyaz Kuchukov; writer Alpamys Bekturganov; and "Law and Justice" editor in chief Tokbergen Abiev.

Esergepov was found guilty in August of revealing state secrets after publishing some government documents. Abiev was convicted for investigating judicial corruption. Bekturganov was imprisoned after writing a critical article about West Kazakhstan Governor Baktykozha Izmukhambetov, who won a libel case against him.