Apotheosis of Kyrgyz justice
The President of Kyrgyzstan once again celebrates his victory. Almazbek Atambayev could manage to outdo his predecessors in his state post: he practically neutralised the opposition, divided civil and journalistic society, squeezed out dissenters from the country, he simply slandered the most “stubborn” media and human rights activists.
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Judges of the Oktyabr district of the capital of Kyrgyzstan decided to consider three lawsuits of the Prosecutor General against the Bishkek information resource Zanoza.kg, journalists Naryn Idinov (Ayip) and Dina Maslova on the same day - 29 June. This desire of judges caused misunderstanding and dissatisfaction from the part of the lawyers of the publication. Lawyers rightly believed that they were placed in a very strict framework, in fact, deprived of the opportunity to become acquainted with the case materials.
Lawyer of the public “Institute Media Policy” fund Altynay Isayeva in an interview with Fergana told in details that there were already eight court hearings in two days on hearings of the Prosecutor General's Office on the protection of the honour and dignity of the president.
“Trials are appointed one after another without interruption and at the same time,” Ms Isayeva says, “they appoint three hearings daily, each of which lasts several hours. As soon as we leave one meeting, it's time for the next one. We do not even have time to rest, to collect our thoughts, to prepare ourselves. All requests to give us more time to get acquainted with the case materials, as well as due to the need to prepare for other processes were ignored by the courts, despite the fact that the law guarantees everyone equal opportunity to participate in court.”
The trial was not a triumph of justice, but a cheap and flat comedy. For example, there was one demand of state prosecutors to show how the president “raped people and laws.” In is quite obvious, gentlemen prosecutors and judges! That using you how the president rapes the society and has the laws the way he wants it. It is up to you what role you act. Is it really hard for you to understand that these expressions are a metaphor, and one should not understand them literally. But the rulers of justice could not understand this. “Raped” that it was written, so be kind to show - how…
Lawyer Hurnisa Mahadinova in an interview with Fergana told that there are cases in the court practice when the same parties participate in the same cases when they are appointed on one day and considered one after another.
“However, I believe, the judges had two choices with these cases - against journalists and human rights activists: either to delay the hearing until the deadline or to consider it as soon as possible. Dragging the case, as we see, did not work. I can only say that the judges themselves are not happy to deal with such matters.”
Fergana tried to learn the opinion of pro-government experts, political scientists and journalists on the fact of judicial reprisal of the edition and journalists who dared to express dissatisfaction with the work of the head of state. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, only silence and ignoring of our questions were the answers. Honestly, nobody expects a different reaction from them. However, it is likely that after the publication of the article they will start screaming out loud that we again took comments only from individuals from the opposition and critics of power.
Public figure Edil Baisalov believes that the lawsuits against “Zanoza,” its journalists and lawyer Cholpon Djakupova - the best final chord of Atambayev’s government.
“Atambayev promised us the rule of law and independent courts,” Mr Baisalov recalls, “in fact, the prosecutor's office dropped all its affairs and does not get out of the trials against the media. The judges had also suspended all cases and continuously were conducting the absurd theatre in a manual mode. The trajectory of Atambayevism: he began with the praise of freedom of speech and human rights activists, ends here with this frame-up trial. It is impossible to look at this without a feeling of disgust. Loathing and resentment! It is an insult for those guys who shed their blood to bring Atambayev to power.”
Independent journalist Bulat Satarkulov is sure that the situation when the trials pass in tight deadlines - unequivocally says that the judges received clear directives from above.
“Thus, I suppose, they just want to neutralise disloyal media before the presidential elections,” the TV journalist said, “apparently, there are a lot of compromising materials and interesting facts from the past of the president’s milieu who are going to the polls. Such information can strongly influence the political situation in Kyrgyzstan. The future of the elite is at stake - to live a quiet life or to wait for troubles in the form of criminal proceedings against them.
Asked whether the head of state should compete with the media and journalists, Mr Satarkulov proposed an extraordinary move.
“My option would be this. I would invite Dina Maslova, Naryn Ayip and other journalists who criticise me and then give them awards in the presence of TV operators, praise them for criticism patting them on the shoulder in a fatherly manner.”
“Another factor that is now widely debated in the society is the selective approach of the head of state to punishing certain media. For example, the Azattyk radio (the Kyrgyz service of Radio Liberty) also was brought a lawsuit from the Prosecutor General's Office with the same charge as Zanoza news agency. But the radio received a pardon, and in fact, the buyback after the meeting of Almazbek Atambayev with the head of Radio Liberty Thomas Kent at the end of March this year, and Zanoza continued to be pursued.”
“The average citizen in the eastern countries share such an opinion that the head of state is a prudent and impartial sage able to find a compromise between different political parties. And by the power of his authority, such a person can maintain stability in the country.”
“In our case, I think that lawsuits against the media are just the opposite, losing rankings of not only the president, but also the ruling party which did not even win a majority in the last parliamentary elections, and actually failed on the local ones,” Bulat Satarkulov believes.
“Therefore, in a case of another political party coming to power, the repression machine can turn around and disable those who created it.”
The former owner of the “Vecherniy Bishkek” (Evening Bishkek) publishing house Aleksandr Kim shared his opinion on why the judicial and other bodies are cracking down on journalists and the media with such ferocity.
“The President's Office gave a strict instruction to his satraps to close Zanoza until September,” Mr Kim believes, “in the case of Mr Ayip, the authorities will not be satisfied with this one process. Adviser to the President Farid Niyazov understands perfectly well that Naryn (Ayip) has other information sites. Therefore, attempts will be made to start criminal proceedings against him. For example, upon non-payment of moral damage to Atambayev. This is an insanity. Naryn can not be intimidated. He is not a businessman. If they start to take away his flat it will be a big scandal. Zanoza is also not so easy to close down. I think it is a big blunder for Farid. It was necessary to convince Atambayev to stop attacking the media and activists.”
Responding the Fergana question about why the Kyrgyz media did not stand up for the protection of their colleagues and a lawyer who often stood up for them, Aleksandr Kim spreads his hands with regret.
“What media do we have in the country? 24.kg agency, Kloop.kg news portal, Azattyk radio - that's all, there are no media in Kyrgyzstan anymore. We can only set our hopes upon support in social networks.”
Journalist Bektash Shamshiev believes that the reason for the haste of the judges is simple: to swiftly fulfil the task of the authorities to punish the uncompromising, not thinking with them in unison.
“So many years of talks about judicial reform, and the courts have become more obedient than before,” Mr Shamshiev sighs, “previously, judges at least adhered to procedural requirements. And now they do not even want to equate their actions with the law: the proceedings go from dawn till dusk, lawyers do not have time to get acquainted with the case. I know it's clear that the journalists of Zanoza and lawyer Djakupova are tried for the truth. The same can be said about the courts over Tekebayev and Chotonov, the other politically persecuted.”
Now engaged in public activities ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs Alikbek Djekshenkulov believes that the current government is making the same mistake as its predecessors.
“An attempt to crack down on political opponents, to crush the freedom-loving press with the illegal use of power structures and judicial bodies was also used by the Bakiyev regime,” Alikbek Djekshenkulov recalls, “how it all ended, we all remember perfectly. Carrying out the current accelerated pace of investigations and court sessions on influential politicians and journalists, the authorities are rushing to shut up the mouth of everyone disagreeable before the start of the presidential election campaign and thereby create favourable conditions for a candidate from power. The ruling elite is trying to retain the power of the Atambayev group by all illicit and unlawful methods. But this will not work for them. Serious contradictions and discontent are ripening in the society which can lead to mass protests.”
“I think all sensible politicians need to think about stability, we need a dialogue between all political forces.”
Will the authorities listen to the words of experts or not? Whatever the case, the development of events is on their conscience.