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Kazakhstan Shuts Down Independent News Site Editor in Chief Marat Asipov says he will appeal the court's decision. Editor in Chief Marat Asipov says he will appeal the court's decision.

A Kazakh court has ordered the closing of the news site in a case criticized by media watchdogs as part of a campaign of official harassment against independent outlets.

Almaty's Medeu district court on May 28 ordered a one-year ban on and decreed that the site's registration be canceled. Judge Gulmira Beysenova also prohibited the use of the domain name and -- an alternative site on which published its content.

Ratel's editor in chief, Marat Asipov, and other employees at the site were also banned from publishing content in other media under the name

Asipov said he would appeal the court decision.

In a motion filed in late March, prosecutors accused the media outlet of violating reregistration rules by using the domain after the death of its owner, Gennady Benditsky, and transferring's rights to

They also said illegally based its servers outside of Kazakhstan and published content in Russian, Kazakh, and English, although its registration only indicates Russian as a language of publication.

The Medeu district court later ruled to suspend the publication of

Separately, journalists at and are being prosecuted on charges of "disseminating knowingly false information" following a claim filed by businessman and former Finance Minister Zeinulla Kakimzhanov.

Kakimzhanov claimed that the outlets published false information that damaged his reputation and that of his son.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says has reported on alleged corrupt business practices by the Kakimzhanovs between May and December 2016.

Earlier this month, CPJ and 25 other international press-freedom organizations expressed concern that "the growing pattern of disproportionate and, in some cases, illegal actions taken by the prosecutor's office and the judiciary against and a number of other media suggests misuse of Kazakhstan's legal system to silence normal criticism crucial to the functioning of a well-ordered democracy."

In April, Human Rights Watch issued a statement on the cases against and another popular independent media outlet,, urging Kazakh authorities to stop using libel laws "to harass journalists who are doing their jobs."

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