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Independent Kazakh Weekly's Website Blocked

Tamara Yeslyamova, Editor-in-Chief of "Uralskaya nedelya" newspaper, which has been blocked since November 2.
ORAL, Kazakhstan -- The website of an independent weekly in western Kazakhstan has been inaccessible since November 2, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Web editors at "Uralskaya nedelya" in the city of Oral told RFE/RL they think the website has been intentionally blocked.

Earlier this year, "Uralskaya nedelya" journalist Luqpan Akhmedyarov was found guilty of libel and ordered to pay the equivalent of $133,500 to the Tengizneftestroi oil company for his article about an allegedly rigged tender won by Tengizneftestroi.

The weekly's chief editor, Tamara Eslyamova, said the newspaper does not have that much money and could not pay. On October 27, the newspaper's bank accounts were frozen by a court.

The Almaty-based nongovernmental organization Adil Soz (Just Word), which monitors journalists' rights in Kazakhstan, reported last week that Aqylbai Qaimoldin, the director of a secondary school in the western town of Podstepnoye, filed another libel suit against Eslyamova.

Qaimoldin is demanding the equivalent of $33,300 from Eslyamova as compensation for "damage to his honor and dignity."

The claim concerns an article by Pyotr Trotsenko published by "Uralskaya nedelya" in July about a confrontation between Qaimoldin and the parents of some children studying at his school.