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Cablegate: Libel S5it3 Chill Fre% Sp%Ech in Kyr%Yzstan

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PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHPW RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHEK #1021/01 2800932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060932Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BISHKEK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1417
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2699
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 3086
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2472
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELQ
RUEHLMC)EILLENNIUM CHALLENGE ACRP

UNCLAS SECTION 01 GF 02 BISHIEK 00Q021

SEFSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT BGR SCA+CEN AND SCA'PPD

E.M. 12958: N'A
TAGS: PREL PGGV KPAK IC
SUBJECT: Libel S5iT3 Chill Fre% Sp%ech in KyR%yzStan

BISHKEK 10061021 001.2 OF 002


SEFSITIVE BUT UJCLASSIFIED. NMT FGR IJTERFET DISTRIBUTIKF

Q* (SBU) SUMEARYQ A s5cce3sfU, libel suit b9 Pr%sidejT BakiyeV%s
fephew agaibS4 t7k indepejdejt .ews0ap%rs has opened a veriT!bde
f,kgd caTe T) addit)kfal cR)minal !jd aiV)l s5its agaibs4
new3pap%rs. T(e S5it3, W(ich can resulT in awa2ds ob oje millicn
SomS (gV%r $28,Q00) in moR!l daeaces, ar% gften eboQch tk bafkrupQ a
fewsp!peR gr fgr#e its cdoS5re. END SUEMARI.

Adibi ajd De FakT/ First in the Aro3shairs
--%-----------------------------------%---

2. (SBU) On JUne Q, in a libel s5it &ided bY Pr%sidejT Bakiyev%s
fephew, Asylbek QaliyeV, the P%rvomaiSkY Raion Cour4 ru,ed acaijst
)jdependenT neW3paperS "D% Fa#to" and "Alib)*" The Court mrdered
4he new3pap%rs tk 0ai QaliyeV kne million s/ms (cv%r $28,Q00) as
"ckmPefs!tion for miral damage" f/r sucgest)jg 4haT Saliyev w!sQ
ifvmlV%d ij a baT!l car craSh in M!rch 2005.

Q. (SBU) "De F!kt/" ness0ap%r#s ifitia, reacT)kf tk The akU2t
ru,ifg sas to tr%at it as a jgke and S4aR4 a ccllecTikn from
reader3, sayine, "We need gne milli/b sgeS in donatikns for the
needY Pr%sidejT's family." H/weV%r$ before it #cu,$ r!ise thE
&undq$ )t aaain ran into 4rgU"de. On JQje 10, "De Faktg" publiS(ed
a qtatemejt by ZaiiRa Mildnzheva$ who identified heRself aS a Tah
I.qpectiOn O&ficer ajd accUqed the Head of t(e K9rgyz T x I*sp%ctikb
gf coRrup4ign. Z!eira Mkddozheva was apparently an alias, and the
author of the letter was never identified.

4. (SBU) It is possible that the letter was an attempt to "frame"
the newspaper, as one day after the letter was published, police
raided "De Fakto," confiscated computers and documents, and sealed
the offices. Officials accused Editor-in-Chief Cholpon Orozobekova
of "deliberately providing false statements," a criminal charge
normally reserved for those who provide false statements to law
enforcement officials and is punishable by up to 5 years
imprisonment. Orozobekova's bank accounts and assets were frozen.
Government officials and organizations also filed defamation claims
against "De Fakto" and won awards of 4 million soms (over $112,000).
Orozobekova has since gone into hiding, unable to pay the 5 million
soms she owes and fearing criminal prosecution.

5. (SBU) "Alibi" newspaper took a different tack, agreeing to pay
the one million soms compensation to Saliyev and printing a
retraction. It only asked the court for some time to come up with
the money and to make payments in installations. Nonetheless, on
August 22, police seized the whole press run of the paper "under
legal process." Prosecutors went one step further, filing a
criminal case for "malicious non-fulfillment of a court decision"
against Editor-in-Chief Babyrbek Djeenbekov. On August 29, in an
attempt to avoid paying the fine, Djeenbekov closed down Alibi and
published the final issue, which announced the establishment of a
new newspaper, "Achyk Sayasat" ("Open Politics"). On September 10,
Djeenbekov was arrested for failing to comply with a court verdict
but was released the following day. (Comment: In Kyrgyzstan,
newspapers can avoid paying libel damages by ceasing operations and
reopening under a different legal name.)

Use of the Tactic Spreads
-------------------------

6. (SBU) On July 29, a court hearing was held to rule on a claim
against monthly human rights bulletin "Prava Dlja Vseh" ("Rights for
Everyone"). Manager of the South Kyrgyz Cement Factory and former
Minister of Industry, Yan Fisher, filed a civil suit against "Prava
Dlja Vseh" because the bulletin published an article that was
critical of South Kyrgyz Cement's hiring practices. Mr. Fisher
asked the court to press criminal charges against the publication,
to fine it 1 million soms, and to close it down. After human rights
activists intervened, the parties came to an amicable agreement.

7. (SBU) On August 26, Osh city Vice-Mayor Ainura Shayimkulova filed
a defamation case against "Jany Zaman" newspaper, requesting 1
million soms compensation for insulting her honor and dignity. The


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