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Kazakh Journalist Jailed For Throwing Manure At Courthouse

Jeanne Baytelova prepares to throw dung at an Almaty court building.
Jeanne Baytelova prepares to throw dung at an Almaty court building.
ALMATY -- A Kazakh journalist was sentenced today to 10 days in jail for throwing dung at the Almaty city court building, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhanna Baytelova's action on August 2 was found by the Almaty administrative court to be an act of hooliganism. She pleaded not guilty to the charge because she said what she did was a "protest action."

Baytelova repeatedly threw handfuls of manure at an entrance to the Almaty city court building to protest the court's rejection of her lawsuit against Prime Minister Karim Masimov and two other politicians.

Baytelova had filed a case against Masimov, Senate speaker Qasymzhomart Toqaev, and lower house speaker Oral Mukhamedzhanov in the Zhetysu district court for what she termed their "illegal decision to sign the law on the 'leader of the nation,'" which became official in mid-June.

The district court decided not to accept Baytelova's case, so she took it to the Almaty city court, which refused her case on July 27. The law on the "leader of the nation" widened the rights and powers of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his relatives.

Baytelova, who works for the opposition newspaper "Golos Respubliki" (Voice of the Republic), told journalists after her verdict was pronounced today that she considers her sentence "a sign of solidarity between courts, as my action...was a protest against the Kazakh courts' 'illegal decisions.'"