Accessibility links

Breaking News

Prominent Kazakh Journalist Sentenced For Extortion

Bigeldy Gabdullin in a courtroom in Astana on January 24
Bigeldy Gabdullin in a courtroom in Astana on January 24

ASTANA -- Prominent Kazakh journalist Bigeldy Gabdullin has been found guilty of extortion and sentenced to five years of "freedom limitation."

A court in Astana on January 24 found Gabdullin guilty of extorting cash from state officials by publishing or threatening to publish materials that damaged their reputations. He was sentenced the same day.

Freedom limitation is similar to a suspended sentence with parolelike restrictions.

Gabdullin said he was thankful to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev for the mild sentence.

Gabdullin, who went on trial on January 17, pleaded guilty. He was arrested in November.

Gabdullin, 61, became well-known in the 1990s for articles criticizing Nazarbaev. He fled to the United States in the early 2000s, saying he feared for his life.

Gabdullin returned to Kazakhstan in 2004 and became the editor in chief of the pro-government newspaper Central Asia Monitor. He also founded the website

  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service offers informed and accurate reporting in the Kazakh and Russian languages about issues that matter in Kazakhstan, while providing a dynamic platform for audience engagement and the free exchange of news and ideas.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.