Yesterday, Askhat Asan, a former staff journalist, who worked for the Kazakh language newspaper Zhas Alash, was summoned for a questioning by the police department of Medeu district of Almaty in connection with the publication of an article translated as “Will the day come when the ex-president will be questioned by Interpol?
This material was followed by a criminal case under Article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan – the journalist is accused of “inciting social discord”.
This article (in the printed version of the newspaper) appeared in a short period of time, after Inga Imanbay started to act as the chief editor. During the interrogation, an investigator from the capital, who was on a business trip to Almaty, asked provocative questions about the role of Inga Imanbay in writing the article, which, according to Askhat Asan, was written on his initiative.
Inga Imanbay left the position of the editor-in-chief of “Zhas Alash” on February 24, 2020 due to pressure on the founders caused by critical publications regarding the authorities and coverage of the protests. Shortly after her departure three other journalists left the newspaper – responsible secretary Yrysbek Dabey and reporters Askhat Asan and Esdaulet Kyzyrbekuly.
Askhat Asan worked for about a month in the staff of the newspaper. Before that he was a permanent freelance author of the popular edition.
Inga Imanbai herself, who now works for the Human Rights Bureau, believes that she may also become a criminal case figure.
It is unclear how the personality of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (even in conjunction with his family) was drawn to a “social group” against which it´s possible to allow the emergence of discord.
During Nursultan Nazarbayev’s nearly 30-year rule, criminal proceedings were initiated against several people, including journalists. Several people were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Now, when Nazarbayev officially left his post, another “political” article 373 “Public insult and other encroachment on honor and dignity of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Yelbasy, desecration of images of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Yelbasy, obstruction of legal activity of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Yelbasy” was preserved in the Criminal Code, which also provides imprisonment for Nazarbayev’s critics.
At the same time dozens of critical and scandalous materials devoted to Nursultan Nazarbayev and his family are published annually abroad.