Bloomberg News

Kazakhs Seek Ban on Opposition Groups, Media After Leader Jailed

November 21, 2012

Kazakhstan’s prosecutors asked a court to ban as extremist opposition groups and media outlets including the Alga party after its leader Vladimir Kozlov was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for fomenting violence.

Prosecutors yesterday asked an Almaty court to shut down Alga and the country’s Halyk Maidany movement, Nurdaulet Suindikov, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office in Astana, said in a statement e-mailed today. The authorities also want to halt the distribution of eight newspapers and 23 websites controlled by the Respublika group and close outlets including Vzglyad newspaper, K+ television channel and Stan.tv portal, according to the statement.

Kozlov, in jail since January, was sentenced to prison last month after facing accusations of fomenting violence in December among striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan, where at least 14 people died in the worst unrest since the ex-Soviet republic won independence two decades ago.

The conviction of Kozlov and others established the “extremist character” behind unregistered public groups and several media outlets, Suindikov said.

Yermukhambet Yertysbayev, an adviser of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has said former BTA Bank Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov used the money embezzled from the defaulted lender to sponsor Alga and Golos Respubliki newspaper to lead calls for large- scale protest actions, according to an interview published in the Liter newspaper on Aug. 3, 2011.

Locksley Ryan, a spokesman for Ablyazov, denied at the time that BTA funds were used to sponsor the opposition party and its newspaper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nariman Gizitdinov in Almaty at ngizitdinov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net


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