In the months before his arrest, Kazakhstani journalist Zhanbolat Mamay knew something was up.
Writing on his Facebook account on December 6, he reported finding his car, which was parked outside his home in Almaty, with a window and side mirror smashed. A few weeks later, he wrote to say he had noticed strangers following him in the street.
At the end of January, the printing house that produced the weekly newspaper that Mamay edited, Tribuna, refused to fulfill an order. Mamay described the sudden decision to stop printing his newspaper as politically motivated.
“This is how they are going to shut down an independent newspaper,” he wrote.
So few were especially surprised when the police arrived at the journalist’s apartment one day in February with an order to detain him. Shortly thereafter, he was told he was facing charges of money laundering.
Opposition activism in Kazakhstan has been systematically stifled in the past few years. Attention has turned now to non-state media-affiliated outlets.
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Aigerim Toleukhanova is an independent journalist based in Kazakhstan.