Kyrgyzstan’s General Prosecutor on May 31 suspended its libel lawsuit against RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service, Radio Azattyk, two weeks after a request to do so issued by President Almazbek Atambayev.
Atambayev is not by rights entitled to order prosecutors to initiate or suspend investigations, and his instructions were offered in the form of advice, but the development nonetheless raises concerns anew about the independence of Kyrgyzstan’s judiciary.
The 20 million Kyrgyz som ($290,000) suit against Azattyk was filed in March on Atambayev’s behalf in response to a report relaying allegations leveled against the president by a prominent political opponent. Another news website, Zanoza.kg, was also made a target of lawsuits, but that case remains in force. Rights activists have likewise been hit with libel lawsuits following their criticism of Atambayev.
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