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Kyrgyzstan: Officials Shackle Journalists with Giant Libel Damages

Journalists at a press conference with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev. In order to silence Atambayev’s critics, prosecutors took a punitive approach by filing financially crippling libel suits on his behalf against mass media outlets and other parties. (Photo: Kyrgyz Presidential Press Service)

In order to silence critics of Kyrgyzstan’s president, prosecutors earlier this year took a punitive approach by filing financially crippling libel suits on his behalf.
 
The most prominent victim of this tactic has been feisty news website Zanoza.kg. In July, the website was found guilty of libel on five counts and ordered to pay 27 million som ($390,000) in total – a dizzying and impossible amount for a fledging operation.
 
The journalists and rights activists slapped with the absurdly high judgments are taking a sanguine approach for the time being. “If I put away 100 som ($1.5) daily, then that will come to 36,000 som in a year. At that rate you would have to put money away for…” Zanoza.kg reporter Naryn Aiyp told EurasiaNet.org, his words trailing off. “It is just a senseless process.”
 

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Kyrgyzstan: Officials Shackle Journalists with Giant Libel Damages

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