Independent editor imprisoned in Kazakhstan

New York, January 26, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s court ruling against Igor Vinyavsky, editor of the independent weekly Vzglyad, and calls for his immediate release.

The Almalinsky District Court in the city of Almaty indicted Vinyavsky on criminal charges of “making public calls to violently overthrow Kazakhstan’s constitutional regime,” and ordered his pretrial imprisonment for two months, news reports said. The Kazakh security service, or KNB, detained Vinyavsky on Monday after KNB agents raided his apartment as well as Vzglyad‘s offices, and confiscated all computers and reporting equipment, the weekly’s staff told CPJ. The KNB opened a criminal case against Vinyavsky on the same day.

In April 2010, Almaty police confiscated a number of leaflets that investigators said had been authored by Vinyavsky, according to news reports. News accounts also reported that the leaflets included a photograph of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev with the caption: “Kyrgyzstan got rid of the robbing family of [ousted President Kurmanbek] Bakiyev. Enough tolerating, take [him] to the dumpster!”

Local newspapers reported that the charges against the editor were not backed by any evidence. In addition, the charges against the editor did not clarify how the investigators had established Vinyavksy’s authorship of the leaflets and did not explain why the editor was being charged with committing a crime through mass media, independent newspaper Respublika reported.

“We call on Kazakh authorities to release Igor Vinyavsky immediately and scrap the case against him,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “The KNB charges against the editor are baseless.”