Saturday, May 07, 2005
Kazakh newspaper shut
Kazakhstan has ordered the closure of one of the central Asian state's few newspapers that criticises the president, in the latest sign of a crackdown ahead of a possible election in December.
Respublika, a weekly that supports the opposition, showed reporters a copy of an order from the Culture, Information and Sports Ministry saying the paper had been "liquidated" without giving a reason.
"We consider the ministry's actions illegal and will lodge an appeal," said deputy editor Galina Dyrdina.
The paper has been shut down several times in the past, prompting it to re-open under another name. Its editor, Irina Petrushova, fled to Russia in 2002 after intimidation and an arson attack on the paper's offices.
She was detained for two days last month by Russian police, acting on a request from Kazakh prosecutors investigating tax evasion. Police released her, saying the charges were too old.
Respublika is one of the few papers to report on a long-stalled U.S. court case in which prosecutors have alleged that Nazarbayev received more than $60 million in bribes from a businessman acting as a go-between for Western oil companies.
Reporters Without Borders have issued a statement on the paper's closure.