A court in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, has sentenced well-known pro-Russian blogger Ermek Taichibekov to seven years in prison after finding him guilty of inciting ethnic discord.
Taichibekov's lawyer, Ghalym Nurpeisov, and his brother Marlen Taichibekov said the Auezov district court handed down the decision on August 19.
Taichibekov was arrested in September and charged with using media to incite ethnic hatred.
Taichibekov told his brother at the time that he was detained for an interview with Ukraina.ru, a website tied to Russia's state Rossia Segodnya media group, which mainly focuses on Russian news and official propaganda abroad.
In a video published on the YouTube channel of Ukraina.ru in May 2020, Taichibekov talked to the presenter against a background of the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian Empire and claimed that Kazakh authorities were pursuing "a Russophobic policy."
Taichibekov was previously sentenced to four 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 before being released in October 2017.
Several Kazakh citizens have been sentenced to prison since 2014 for inciting separatism or ethnic hatred through the Internet amid heightened concern of Russian dominance over former Soviet republics sparked by Moscow's support for separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine and Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea.