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Kazakh Businessman To Help Independent Weekly Pay Fine

ORAL, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh businessman says he will give $70,000 to help an independent newspaper in the western city of Oral pay a court-ordered fine for libel, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The Almaty-based media-rights foundation Adil Soz said today that businessman Barlyq Mendygaziev would donate the money to assist the weekly "Uralskaya nedelya" ("Oral Week").

The paper and journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov were found guilty of libel by an Oral court earlier this month and fined $138,000.

The newspaper printed an article by Akhmedyarov titled "Behind the Veil of the Tender" on August 6, 2009. The article suggested that a local company, Tengizneftestroi, knew before a tender to build infrastructure for a local oil and gas company was held that it was going to win.

Tengizneftestroi's management sued the newspaper and Akhmedyarov for libeling the company and "damaging its business reputation."

"Uralskaya nedelya" chief editor Tamara Eslyamova had said the newspaper would not be able to pay the fine by itself.