A prominent TV journalist has quit his job at Kazakhstan's leading state-run channel after presenting a faked interview last week, colleagues say.
Ruslan Smykov of First Channel Eurasia filed a resignation letter citing "differences with management" after the interview in question was aired on December 17, his co-workers at the station said on December 20.
Smykov hosted a program last week that included footage appearing to show Aimira Shaukentaeva, another presenter at First Channel Eurasia, being interviewed by Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner on his popular TV program.
Pozner told RFE/RL on December 19 that the interview had never taken place, called it "a fake" and its broadcast "colossal stupidity."
The channel's editorial board later said that the interview had been "a joke," and Kazakh Information Minister Dauren Abaev called it "a very unfortunate joke."
Internet users condemned the faked interview and created several memes mocking Smykov and Shaukentaeva.
In April and May, Smykov and Shaukentaeva faced criticism after they repeatedly said in a television program that protesters demonstrating across Kazakhstan against the government’s land reforms were paid by "foreign forces" from "across the ocean" who wanted to incite disorder in Kazakhstan.