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September 14, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Provincial newspaper editor scapegoated in political case


The authorities in the northeastern province of Pavlodar have decided that Yaroslav Golyshkin, a local newspaper editor held since May after investigating a rape case allegedly involving the governor’s son, will spend at least another month in pre-trial detention. Golyshkin is facing up to 25 years in prison on charges of blackmail, extortion and inciting a minor to commit crime. Golyshkin’s pre-trial detention was due to end today, but it came as no surprise that, on 5 September, the judicial authorities extended his detention by another month, until 14 October. Further extensions are possible. Arrested on 14 May, he was initially charged with blackmail and extortion along with five other people as a result of a complaint by the provincial governor. After an initial investigation, additional charges were brought against him, including inciting a minor to commit crime (under article 132 of the criminal code). “The authorities are clearly trying to make Yaroslav Golyshkin carry the can for a rape case with political ramifications in which he was in no way involved,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “It is perfectly legitimate for a journalist to investigate such a serious matter and to provide the public with information about it without having to fear reprisals. We urge to the authorities to drop all the charges against him and to free him at once.” Regarded as an honest and professional journalist, Golyshkin has often been critical of the local authorities in Versia, the local newspaper he edits. Initially questioned as a witness, he was arrested after refusing to make a false statement implicating the deputy governor, against whom the authorities wanted to make a case. The deputy governor was also arrested shortly afterwards and has also been placed in pre-trial detention until 15 October. Kazakhstan is ranked 160th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.