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Kazakh Court Adds Libel To Embattled Weekly's Woes

The Medeu district court rejected the businessman's demand for the equivalent of $667,000 in damages.
A court in Almaty has found the independent weekly "Alma-Ata Info" guilty of libel and ordered it to pay damages and print an apology to a local businessman, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The damages award of around $1,000 by the Medeu district court should be paid by journalist Askhat Bimenbetov and the paper.

It is far below the roughly $667,000 demanded by Valeriy Alefirenko, whom the court concluded was defamed in an article that appeared in "Alma-Ata Info" in September.

Alefirenko's lawyer, Petr Kotlyakov, said his client was not satisfied with the amount of the judgment and would therefore appeal.

The libel verdict adds to the woes of "Alma-Ata Info," which is already under a court-ordered suspension over its disclosure of state secrets. Owner and editor Ramazan Esergepov has been in jail since January over the same article, which was published in November.