• KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
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  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
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As Bishimbayev Case Continues, Kazakhstan Toughens Domestic Violence Laws

While a court in Astana tries former economy minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev for murdering his wife Saltanat Nukenova, the Kazakhstani Senate has passed a law strengthening protections for women and children against domestic violence. The new law, if properly implemented, can hand out much harsher punishments to those who abuse those closest to them. In particular, a term of life imprisonment has been introduced for the murder of a minor child.   In the Face of Widespread Indifference The trial of Bishimbayev – and his relative Bakhytzhan Baizhanov, who is accused of failing to report the murder - has uncovered an uncomfortable truth. Many people already knew that Bishimbayev beat his wife, who died last November. Relatives and close acquaintances of the victim recounted details in court about bruises on Nukenova's face. On the day of her death, a number of witnesses saw Bishimbayev arguing with, and possibly beating, Nukenova. Many of these witnesses are employees of the restaurant where the alleged murder took place. Baizhanov admitted under interrogation that he saw blood as Nukenova was laying motionless, but, on the orders of Bishimbayev, had the restaurant's surveillance tapes deleted, and then drove Nukenova's phone around the city, so that it would seem later that she was still alive at the time. According to Baizhanov, he "did not know and did not realize" that Nukenova was dying. However, a forensics expert testified in court that the nature of Nukenova's injuries indicated serious beatings, not "light slaps and falls," as Bishimbayev had previously claimed. Examinations confirmed that Nukenova died of multiple brain injuries and a lack of oxygen, likely as a result of asphyxiation.   Will the New Law Help Stop Violence?  Kazakhstanis are closely following the legal proceedings that have resulted from Nukenova's death, and are organizing viral online actions and rallies in her memory in cities across Europe. Human rights activists and ordinary Kazakhstanis fought long and hard for domestic violence to be criminalized. Under the new law, criminal liability will be applied to any intentional infliction of harm to health, however minor. The Code "On marriage (matrimony) and family" establishes the legal status of family support centers and the functions they perform, and establishes helplines for information and psychological assistance relating to women's and children's rights. The law also contains many measures aimed at protecting children in public and online. Activists are still cautious about the new law, and argue that much will depend on its practical application and the amount of funds allocated to it. Support centers for victims of violence receive many calls per day, and physically cannot provide assistance to all those in need.   Central Asia's Changing Attitudes to Domestic Violence The other countries in Central Asia face a similar, and perhaps more difficult, situation. Uzbekistan, for example, adopted a law last year to give women and children more protection against domestic violence. Domestic violence in Uzbekistan is subject to administrative and criminal liability, and harassment has been made a crime. The sentences for sexual...

Kyrgyzstan Minister Says Case Against Media Workers Not About Politics

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan is pushing back against international criticism of a high-profile prosecution of media workers, saying the case is not politically motivated and that those facing charges of inciting mass unrest are poorly educated people masquerading as journalists. Minister of Internal Affairs, Ulan Niyazbekov, said the case against 11 former and current workers for media outlet Temirov Live stems from the publication of false information that flouts the basic rules of journalism. Free speech advocates say Kyrgyzstan is clamping down on what was once a relatively permissive environment for the media. “If they continue to write everything that comes to their mind without facts and evidence, just saying that they are journalists, then we will arrest them,” Niyazbekov said in an interview with Kabar, Kyrgyzstan’s national news agency. He said most of the people accused in the Temirov Live case are “bloggers,” not journalists. “They spread false information because they don't have education and make people panic. And there is no need to make noise about them saying that they are journalists,” he said. The minister’s comments were published on Thursday, two days after a court in Bishkek ordered the transfer of four of the journalists from prison to house arrest. Four others accused in the same case remain in pretrial detention. If convicted, they could be sent to prison for years. Temirov Live is a YouTube-based outlet that has published and broadcast reports on alleged corruption by senior officials. It was founded in 2020 by Bolot Temirov, who was expelled from Kyrgyzstan in 2022. He has said the ongoing case against his colleagues is in retaliation for Temirov Live’s investigations into alleged government misconduct. In an interview with Kabar, Niyazbekov noted that there were potential penalties in Europe and the United States for journalists who spread false or unconfirmed information. “They don't accuse someone without proof,” he said. “If someone tries to slander someone or spread false information about the activities of the authorities, they will be brought to court and pay a large compensation or be imprisoned.” The government in Kyrgyzstan tolerates criticism but its “only demand” is that critics “gather evidence or make the information very precise and then release it to the public,” Niyazbekov stated.

Kyrgyzstan Court Moves Four Journalists from Prison to House Arrest

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Four journalists in Kyrgyzstan who were jailed in January on suspicion of inciting mass unrest have been moved to house arrest, while four others accused in the same case remain in pretrial detention. A district court in Bishkek ordered the release on Tuesday of the former employees of Temirov Live, which supporters say is being targeted by the government because of its reports – some on YouTube - on alleged corruption involving senior officials. Police concluded that Temirov Live reports “contain signs of calls for mass chaos,” according to media outlet Politklinika. The four journalists transferred from jail to house arrest are Tynystan Asypbekov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, Joodar Buzumov, and Maksat Tajibek uulu. Those still in jail are Temirov Live director Makhabat Tajibek kyzy; two other journalists with the outlet, Aike Beishekeyeva and Azamat Ishenbekov, and a former Temirov Live journalist, Aktilek Kaparov. A total of 11 former and current Temirov Live workers face charges in the case that could send them to jail for years if they are convicted. Free speech advocates say the prosecution is part of an increasingly restrictive rollback from a time when media enjoyed relative freedom in Kyrgyzstan. The conditions of the journalists still in prison came under further scrutiny this past weekend when Makhabat Tajibek kyzy, the Temirov Live director, alleged that she and other detainees not involved in her case were beaten. Authorities deny the allegation.

Online Viral Action #ZaSaltanat: Women of Kazakhstan Oppose Stereotypes About Domestic Violence

The trial of Former Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, accused of murdering his wife, Saltanat Nukenova, continues. During the hearing, Bishimbayev's lawyers have repeatedly attempted to emphasize that Saltanat, who died from a beating, led a promiscuous lifestyle, including the constant consumption of alcohol. Such arguments caused great displeasure on the part of Dina Tansari, head of the NeMolchy.kz fund, who expressed her support for the deceased and launched an online flashmob action, #ZaSaltanat. "Bishimbayev's lawyers are trying to blame the deceased Saltanat for her life choices. But what is source of this blame - the fact that she could have had a glass of wine or any other beverage? Join me. Post your pictures with a glass and the caption: 'If you see me with a glass of wine, it doesn't mean it's okay to kill me!'," Tansari urged. Thousands of women from Kazakhstan supported the viral action, posting photos with a glass of wine on social media to draw attention to the spurious claims of the ex-minister and his advocats. Media personalities, actresses, TV presenters, public figures and ordinary housewives joined the action, emphasizing the importance of drawing attention to this tragedy and supporting the victims of domestic violence.

Authorities in Central Asia Warn Against Terrorist Recruitment

Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry has issued a warning over increased instances of calls to commit terrorist acts spread via social media and messenger apps. Citizens are being implored to booby-trap public places - including shopping and entertainment centers, schools and other places of mass gathering - for large sums of money. Besides the promise of money, extremists are offering to provide weapons and send a plan of action - while the provocateurs often won't take no for an answer. The anonymous instigators - as a rule, there is no photo or number in the profile - often write with similar appeals to children and teenagers, intimidating them with fabricated stories such as having all of that person's data and personal information. "In case you receive this kind of message, please do not panic and do not send them to public chat rooms, to your acquaintances and friends, but immediately report it to the internal affairs authorities on the number 102. Block the senders and do not enter into correspondence or conversations with them," the Interior Ministry said in a statement. "There is a Cybersecurity Center within the structure of the interior agencies, which is engaged in monitoring and identifying individuals and channels spreading calls for unlawful acts. Special divisions have been created within the operational and investigative department of the internal affairs bodies, which are also engaged in activities to identify terrorist threats on the World Wide Web and punish attackers," Shokirjon Hashimov, spokesman for the operational and investigative department of the Uzbek Interior Ministry, told The Times of Central Asia. The Uzbekistan TV channel reported on the detention of a group of extremist students, who were plotting terrorist attacks in several locations in Tashkent. The attackers, who were planning to carry out a terrorist attack in the spring of 2022, were discovered in February 2021. The young men carefully thought out a plan of action and chose the Israeli embassy in Tashkent or the murder of U.S. and Chinese citizens at the capital's international airport as the target of their planned attacks. After committing the terrorist acts, the boys intended to move to Syria via Turkey, or to Afghanistan via Surkhandarya. Over the course of the investigation, explosives were found at the suspects' homes. The court sentenced them to between 10 and 15 years in prison. Calls for vigilance can also be heard in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where through social networks and dating sites, attackers are trying to recruit young people to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia. "The representative office of the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Migration of Kyrgyzstan in the Russian Federation warns that through social networks and popular messengers such as Telegram, there is active recruitment of citizens, including underage children, to participate in terrorist acts in Russia," the press service of the ministry reported.

Video of Beating of Saltanat Nukenova on the Day of Her Death Presented in Court

At the fourth court session on April 3 of the murder case of Saltanat Nukenova, a video was presented which depicts the moment of her beating on the day of her death. The video shows former Minister of the National Economy, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, delivering several blows to Nukenova's head area after they went up to the second floor of a restaurant at 7:17 a.m. on November 8, 2023.   The video also shows Nukenova falling to the floor after the blows, and then Bishimbayev begin kicking her in the buttocks area. He then lifted her up by the hair and once again hit her hard in the head. These events were described by the prosecutor, Aizhan Aimaganova at the trial. "He hit her again. She fell down again. Then he lifted the latter by the hair and dragged her to stall number one. Further, at 8:08am, Bishimbayev left the stall with a bare torso, took alcohol from the bar and returned again. At 9:27 a.m. Bishimbayev exited again with his bare torso into the common area and returned within a minute. At 9:58, Baizhanov arrived at the restaurant," the prosecutor said. The victim's lawyers asked the jury to pay attention to the fact that on the video recording Saltanat Nukenova tried to stay away from Bishimbayev and behaved calmly, even when the ex-minister pressed her against the wall and hit her. The defendant's lawyers stated that Bishimbayev was just "stroking" Nukenova's face. In response, the victim's side expressed indignation. The court session ended with the announcement that the next session is scheduled for April 4 at 10:00.