A court in Kazakhstan has detained a pro-Russian blogger for two months pending trial on suspicion of inciting ethnic hatred.
Ermek Taichibekov was previously sentenced to 4 years in prison in 2015 on charges of inciting ethnic hatred by placing "inflammatory" materials on Facebook and supporting the idea of Kazakhstan uniting with Russia. He served less than two years of that sentence and was released in October 2017.
Taichibekov’s lawyer told RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service on September 26 that an investigative court held a secret trial in which his client did not receive a proper defense and was threatened.
Defense lawyer Galym Nurpeisov said Taichibekov refused to be represented by a state lawyer but that the trial went ahead anyway. He said he has filed an appeal against the investigative court ruling detaining his client for two months.
Taichibekov, an ethnic Kazakh, was apparently detained on September 23 for comments he recently made to Russian state media Rossiya Segodnya.
Taichibekov told his brother that he was detained for an interview with Ukraina.ru, a website tied to Rossiya Segodnya that covers Ukraine from a pro-Russia perspective.
In a video published on the YouTube channel of Ukraina.ru in May, Taichibekov talks to the presenter against the background of the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian Empire and claims that the Kazakh authorities are pursuing a Russophobic policy.
Several Kazakh citizens have been sentenced to prison since 2014 for inciting separatism and/or ethnic hatred through the Internet amid heightened Kazakh government concern sparked by Russia’s support for separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine and Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea.