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Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Current Time, RFE/RL Reporters In Court In Kazakhstan

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Correspondents of RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service and Current Time were fighting against accusations from the authorities in courts in Kazakhstan on April 1.

Current Time correspondent Svetlana Glushkova has been accused of attacking a woman who was preventing her from covering the arrests of protesters in the Kazakh capital, now called Nur-Sultan, last month.

Glushkova, who was detained at the airport in Nur-Sultan upon arrival from Almaty late on March 31, denies the allegation and contends that it is politically motivated.

She was held at the airport for about four hours before police filed a formal document accusing her of pushing a woman during a March 22 protest against renaming the capital, formerly called Astana, in honor of ex-President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Nazarbaev announced his resignation on March 19, after nearly three decades in office, but retained powerful roles including leader of the ruling Nur-Otan party and chairman for life of the country’s Security Council

Glushkova broadcast her detention at the airport on Facebook.

At about 12:30 a.m. on April 1, a police officer handed her a summons to appear in court at a hearing scheduled for 11 a.m.

The hearing started late and was adjourned until April 2 following a motion by Glushkova’s lawyer, Bauyrzhan Azanov, who sought the removal of the judge, Asiya Doszhanova, from the case.

Azanov told RFE/RL earlier that his client’s hearing was delayed because the case materials had not arrived at the court, adding that he had filed a motion to dismiss the case on the basis of procedural violations.

Glushkova told RFE/RL that the case against her was an “obstruction of my professional activities.”

Current Time is a Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

Civil rights activist Fatima Zhandosova told RFE/RL that Glushkova’s rights were abused because the subpoena was not issued by the court but by a police officer.

Dozens of journalists and activists who came to the court to support Glushkova, chanted “Hands Off Svetlana!” in front of the court building.

Glushkova was initially detained on March 22 after a group of young men and women surrounded her and RFE/RL correspondents in the capital, preventing them from covering the arrests of demonstrators.

Also on April 1, a court in the western city of Aqtau was scheduled to begin hearings of an appeal by RFE/RL Kazakh Service correspondent Saniya Toiken against a fine imposed by a court in Zhanaozen, a restive city in the Aqtau region.

The court fined Toiken $135 after ruling that she refused to follow police orders last month.

Toiken was detained three times over several weeks in February-March while covering protests by residents of Zhanaozen, an oil-industry city, who were demanding jobs. She contends that the case against her is politically motivated.

In December 2011, police fatally shot at least 16 people when dispersing protesting oil workers in Zhanaozen.

Rights activists and critics say Nazarbaev, who had been president since 1990, persistently suppressed dissent, prolonged his time in office through undemocratic votes or referendums, and used the levers of power to neutralize potential opponents.

Toiken is a recipient of the 2017 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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