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"Alma-ata info" newspaper facing charges

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - The "Alma-ata info" newspaper is facing charges under article 342 of the Administrative Code of Kazakhstan, for allegedly violating the law on mass media. A lawsuit has been filed by the local government's internal politics department in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In its lawsuit, the Almaty City council claims "Alma-ata info" newspaper failed to reregister after having changed its thematic focus. Internal Politics Department head Zhanbolot Murazalin said the paper had published advertisements without having reregistered its new thematic direction. He added, "There was no word about the closure." He believes the paper may get the maximum possible punishment of a 206,000 tenge (approx. US$1600) fine.

However "Alma-ata info" newspaper editor Ramazan Yesergepov believes the real reason the newspaper has been charged was a number of articles criticizing the authorities. According to him, the administrative charges are baseless, because the term "information" includes advertisements, which correspond to the current thematic focus of the paper. "Alma-ata info" staff believe the administrative charges filed are merely an attempt to close the paper. The country's advertising law stipulates that the legal concept of "information" encompasses advertisements as well as other kinds of pieces on political, social, economic and sports matters.

"Alma-ata info" has been published for more than a year.

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