7 February 2012

Joint action

Twenty-nine IFEX members call for release of independent newspaper editor

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - The following is a letter to the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan about the detention of editor Igor Vinyavsky, whose detention is believed to be politically motivated, calling for him to be released and for the evidence leading to his arrest to be made public:

Askhat Daulbayev, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan
State Office of the Prosecutor General
010000, Republic Kazakhstan,
Astana city, street Orynbor, 8 (the House of the Ministries), entrance №2.
Fax: +7 7172 71 26 50
Email: Gp-rk (@) prokuror.kz

7 February 2012

Dear Prosecutor General Daulbayev,

We, the undersigned 29 organisations, members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), call on you to immediately release Igor Vinyavsky, editor of the independent weekly "Vzglyad", who was detained by the Kazakh security service on 23 January 2012. Vinyavsky was indicted on criminal charges of "making public calls through mass media to violently overthrow Kazakhstan's constitutional regime." The punishment for such charges is a large fine or imprisonment of up to seven years.

The National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan said that Vinyavsky was arrested under a criminal case of "incitement to social hatred," which is being investigated in the Mangistau region, after clashes occurred on 16 December 2011. Yet, Vinyavsky was indicted on charges related to leaflets seized nearly two years ago, in April 2010, from citizens whose connection with Vinyavsky has not yet been established.

From April 2010 to 23 January 2012, Vinyavsky was not charged with any crime. The leaflets were uploaded on numerous websites and it is clear that they do not contain any prohibited calls that were incriminating. On 26 January 2012, the Almalinsky District Court in the city of Almaty held a hearing in the National Security Committee's detention center, and sanctioned Vinyavsky's pretrial imprisonment for two months. The verdict was issued despite the fact that the Kazakh law stipulates that such a preventive measure is taken usually only if there is the risk that the accused could escape or could continue to engage in criminal activity.

All the above suggests that Vinyavsky's prosecution is politically motivated and that authorities are using these charges as an attempt to silence him because of his independent paper, and possibly in reprisal for reporting on violent clashes that took place in December 2011.

We demand that the Vinyavsky case be reviewed with strict compliance with the law and ask you to do the following:

1. Immediately release him from pretrial detention.
2. Conduct this case in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Kazakhstan has ratified, noting international legislation is predominant over the national law.
3. Ensure maximum transparency of the case and provide updated information related to Vinyavsky's prosecution.
4. Disclose the evidence which was the basis for Vinyavsky's arrest and provide materials for experts to implement an independent evaluation of the relevant text.
5. If this case proceeds to court, give representatives of media and independent observers, both local and foreign, the opportunity to attend the hearings.

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At this point, would publish: "Home page"
At this point, would publish: "Editor's detention exposes regime's crushing of dissent in wake of December violence"
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