Kazakhstan: online news site’s editor accused of libel

ALMATY (TCA) — The chief editor of the Kazakh online news website Ratel.kz says he has been officially named a suspect in a high-profile libel case, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Marat Asipov told reporters late on April 4 he had been interrogated by investigators for eight hours in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Almaty.

Asipov also wrote on social media that Ratel.kz’s Facebook account had been closed.

A Kazakh court in late March issued an order to block the Ratel.kz website, and on April 2, Almaty police raided the editorial offices of Ratel.kz and the local edition of Forbes magazine. Computer and servers at both outlets were seized by police officers.

Interior Minister Qalmukhanbet Qasymov later said the raids were conducted after police received a complaint from a person, identified as “citizen Kakimzhanov,” accusing the two media outlets of spreading libelous information about him.

Local media reports said that the lawsuit had been filed by former Finance Minister Zeinulla Kakimzhanov over articles by both outlets that investigated corruption allegedly involving Kakimzhanov and his son.

It wasn’t immediately clear what information or stories may have prompted the lawsuit.

Last April, an Almaty court ruled in favor of Kakimzhanov and his son in their lawsuit, awarding them about $156,000 in damages.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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