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Kazakh Opposition Weekly Faces Closure After Court Ruling

Bakytgul Makimbay, chief editor of the weekly newspaper "Taszharghan"
Bakytgul Makimbay, chief editor of the weekly newspaper "Taszharghan"
A well-known Kazakh opposition newspaper based in Almaty will likely stop operations because of a heavy fine assessed against it in a court ruling, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Bakytgul Makimbay, the chief editor of the weekly newspaper "Taszharghan" (Stone Breaker), told RFE/RL that the Kazakh Supreme Court upheld an Almaty city court decision ordering the newspaper to pay $300,000 to parliament deputy Romin Madinov.

Madinov sued the weekly earlier this year for "damaging his reputation and honor" in an article printed in the newspaper in April 2008.

Makimbay says the case against the independent "Taszharghan" is politically motivated. She added that paying the fine to Madinov would mean the closure of the newspaper.

"Taszharghan" is the current name of an opposition newspaper that was called "Dat" when it began publishing in April 1998.

Since then, the weekly has had to change its name several times after it was closed down or sued by government officials.

Its journalists have also been beaten and its offices robbed and vandalized on several occasions.