The Freeland File
Aerospace & Defense
Global Market Data
Lucy P. Marcus
The Great Debate
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Our best photos from the last 24 hours. Slideshow
Download our Wider Image iPad app
Images of October
Tel Aviv bus hit by bomb; Hamas celebrates
Al Jazeera studio in Cairo set ablaze after angry protest
Florida girl fatally shot on school bus, suspect in custody
20 Nov 2012
Tel Aviv bus blast shakes Gaza truce efforts
India executes last surviving Mumbai attacker, sparks celebrations
Egypt PM to visit Gaza in support of Hamas against Israel
Israel hammers Hamas in Gaza offensive
Gaza truce pressure builds, Cairo in focus
Our day's top images, in-depth photo essays and offbeat slices of life. See the best of Reuters photography. See more
Best of the AMAs
Highlights from the American Music Awards. Slideshow
Scenes from Gaza and Israel. Slideshow
Kazakhstan in move to ban opposition parties and media
Kazakhstan in legal move to ban opposition parties and media
UPDATE 3-Kazakh bank Halyk raises 2012 net profit forecast
Mon, Nov 19 2012
Kazakh bank BTA poised to seize oligarch's assets
Tue, Nov 6 2012
Analysis & Opinion
Forgive and forget in emerging debt?
1 of 2. A reporter works in an editing room of Stan.TV Internet portal in Almaty November 21, 2012. The Central Asian state of Kazakhstan has moved to ban two opposition movements critical of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and to close dozens of opposition media outlets for ''propagating extremism''.
Credit: Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov
By Dmitry Solovyov and Robin Paxton
Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:10am EST
ALMATY (Reuters) - The Central Asian state of Kazakhstan has moved to ban two opposition movements critical of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and to close dozens of opposition media outlets for "propagating extremism".
In a step the opposition denounced as an attack on dissent in the oil-exporting former Soviet republic, prosecutors linked their request to last month's jailing of Vladimir Kozlov, leader of the unregistered Alga! or "Forward!" party.
Kozlov was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for trying to rally workers in a failed attempt to topple the government. After his trial, the United States accused Kazakhstan of using its justice system "to silence opposition voices".
Nazarbayev, 72, has run Central Asia's most successful economy and largest oil producer for more than two decades, tolerating little dissent in pursuit of market reforms and foreign investment that has exceeded $150 billion.
As well as leading Alga!, Kozlov, a fierce critic of Nazarbayev, was leader of the country's unofficial Halyk Maidany, or People's Front movement, which tried to unite groups with specific grievances against the government.
He was found guilty of colluding with fugitive anti-government billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov and of orchestrating dissent among striking oilmen in the prelude to riots last December that killed 15 people and dented Kazakhstan's reputation for stability.
Nurdaulet Suindikov, spokesman for the prosecutor-general's office, on Wednesday accused the two opposition movements Kozlov led and various media outlets of "propagating extremism".
"Kozlov's sentence established that the activity of the unregistered Alga! and Halyk Maidany movements, as well as the activity of a number of mass media outlets, was extremist," he said.
Suindikov said prosecutors in Kazakhstan's commercial capital, Almaty, had asked a court to ban the two movements as well as the media outlets.
Reporters Without Borders said it was "appalled" by the prosecutor-general's move and urged the Almaty court to reject a request it said would push Kazakhstan closer to the "ultra-authoritarian model" of neighbors Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
"If granted, pluralism would quite simply cease to exist in this country. The government is using the pretext of combating extremism to launch an unprecedented offensive against its critics," the Paris-based media watchdog said in a statement.
Kazakhstan's marginalized opposition enjoys little support among voters. The country has never held an election that Western monitors have deemed fair, but Nazarbayev is popular in the country of 17 million for presiding over relative stability.
Suindikov said prosecutors were seeking the closure of eight newspapers and 23 Internet sites that operated under the umbrella of the Respublika publisher, as well as the Vzglyad newspaper and its Internet sites.
Oksana Makushina, deputy editor-in-chief of the Golos Respubliki newspaper - part of the Respublika group - said her publication would try to get round any court order.
A photograph of a decapitated dog hangs in the paper's Almaty offices, a reminder of a grisly delivery in 2002 after it published a series of articles alleging corruption.
"They may close the paper in legal form, but given the presence of the Internet, it is hard to do so in reality," Makushina said. "We will continue fighting, unless we are put in a prison cell next to Kozlov."
Mikhail Sizov, another leader of the Alga! party, said he believed Kozlov's imprisonment for his part in the Zhanaozen riots was the beginning of a wider campaign to destroy the entire opposition movement in Kazakhstan.
"There is virtually an undeclared war going on between Mukhtar Ablyazov and Nursultan Nazarbayev," Sizov told Reuters.
The satellite TV channel K+ and the Internet portal Stan-TV are among the other media outlets targeted by prosecutors. State television ran a documentary this week that identified Ablyazov as the financial backer of both channels.
Baurzhan Musirov, director of Stan Production, which runs the Stan.KZ portal, denied this.
The channel's reporters were first on the scene when oil workers in overalls began kicking over speakers at an Independence Day concert in Zhanaozen on December 16 last year.
Musirov ranks Stan.KZ's coverage of Zhanaozen, including the seven-month labor dispute that preceded the violence, as the portal's most significant contribution to reporting on events in Kazakhstan. But he denied any allegiance to opposition groups.
"We raise questions and we look at different problems," he said. "Those who watch our material see a picture that doesn't exist everywhere."
Ablyazov, meanwhile, has been on the run since February. He had been sentenced to 22 months in prison for contempt of court in Britain, where he had earlier received political asylum. His current whereabouts are unknown.
A theoretical physics graduate who built a fortune by snapping up banking and media assets in the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed, Ablyazov has said he fell out with Nazarbayev after campaigning for a change of government.
He has failed to appear in a vast fraud case being heard in Britain, where his former bank, state-owned BTA, has brought nine charges against Ablyazov and his allies. In the same case, BTA has frozen assets worth around $6 billion.
(Additional reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.