News

February 3, 2012 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Leading independent Kazakh newspaper at centre of major media crackdown


Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned by the growing crackdown on independent journalists
in Kazakhstan
“The authorities, even more paranoid as a result of riots in Janaozen in December, are using the security
argument as a pretext to step up their crackdown on the media,” the press freedom organization said.

“After Stan TV and Vzglyad, Golos Respubliki is once again at the centre of the storm. Independent
journalism as a whole is being targeted by a government unable to reassert its authority other than by
force.”

The deputy editor of the independent newspaper Golos Respubliki, Oksana Makushina, was
summoned for a second day today for questioning at the head office of the National Security
Committee, the KNB. She had already spent seven hours there the day before. At the same time, the
paper’s editorial offices were searched and computers and technical equipment seized.

Makushina came under suspicion because she chaired a press conference three days ago in support
of the jailed journalist Igor Vinyavsky (see below). Other participants were also summoned. KNB agents wanted to know how they discovered the precise charge brought against the journalist
and how they obtained a leaflet that he is accused of distributing.

They also questioned the organizers to determine whose idea it was to show the leaflet to the
journalists attending the press conference, who did so, and whether they were aware of the
subversive implications of such an action.

Vinyavsky, editor of Vzglyad, was arrested on 23 January and is being held in pre-trial detention
for two months. He is accused of distributing leaflets calling for an insurrection shortly after the
overthrow of the government of Kurmanbek Bakiyev in neighbouring Kygyzstan in 2010.

The leaflet contains images of the Kyrgyz uprising and a photo of a man holding up a picture
of the Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The caption reads: “Kyrgyzia got rid of the
predatory Bakiyev clan. We’ve waited long enough, let’s throw (this picture) in the bin!”

Press freedom organizations are surprised at the slowness of the authorities’ response and
believe it is a trumped-up case. There is no trace of the leaflet on the computers seized from
Vinyavsky and the Vzglyad editorial offices.

Golos Respubliki is the main independent newspaper in Kazakhstan, which is classified 154th
out of 179 countries in the latest world press freedom index published by Reporters Without
Borders.

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26.01.2012 Independent newspaper editor held by security agency

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the detention of Igor Vinyavsky (Игорь Винявский),
the editor of the independent newspaper Vzglyad, since 23 January and calls for his immediate
release.

Arrested in Almaty at the end of a series of raids on the offices of several independent news
media, Vinyavsky has been charged under article 170 of the criminal code with distributing
leaflets calling for the government’s overthrow. The charge carries a possible five-year jail
sentence.

Mikhail Sizov, the editor of Alga, an opposition newspaper that was also searched, was
questioned for the entire day on 23 January by the Committee for State Security (KNB) before
being released.

Vzglyad has not been able to publish since the raids because all of its computers were seized.
Vinyavsky’s personal computers were also seized during a search of his home on the evening of
23 January. An Almaty court is due to decide tomorrow whether he is to remain in custody.

Harassment of independent journalists has been mounting since a violent crackdown on rioting
oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen
on 16 December. Members of a crew working
for Stan TV, an independent TV station, were detained for an hour in Zhanaozen on
11 January. Two days later, 15 Stan TV employees – almost all of the station’s staff – were
summoned to KNB headquarters for interrogation.

They were questioned about their coverage of the Zhanaozen riot although none of Stan TV’s
staff were in the city on the day it took place. The station was however one of the first news
outlets to broadcast video footage filmed by netizens showing the police using violence against
demonstrators.