Managing editor of weekly imprisoned
The organisation fears the sentence was intended to put pressure on "Diapazon" in the lead up to legislative elections scheduled for September. The newspaper has the largest circulation in the Aktobe region and is the healthiest financially.
"This prison sentence appears to be completely disproportionate to the offence committed by the Arsenal publishing house. Moreover, Mr Mikhailov has not been the owner of the publishing house for several months," RSF noted. "We would like to be sure that this is not an attempt to 'neutralise' the newspaper so that it stops criticising the local authorities," the organisation added.
"We believe the imprisonment of our managing editor is the authority's response to a letter that he sent to the presidential office in February. In the letter, [Mikhailov] said that Regional Governor Ernek Imantaev had suggested to him, in early January, that he allow one of his men to take control of 'Diapazon'. When he refused, legal proceedings were launched against our newspaper," "Diapazon" editor-in-chief Marina Vassilievna explained.
Mikhailov was charged with failing to apply a court ruling ordering him to reposition a load-bearing wall in the offices of the Arsenal publishing house by 70 centimetres, to the benefit of the adjoining building firm Aktubrentgen. The journalist plans to appeal.