Highest court in Kyrgyzstan upholds enormous fines for insulting Atambayev
In the first lawsuit, apart from ProMedia (the founders of Zanoza), the defendants were Kanatbek Aziz and Taalaykul Toktakunova, the two lawyers of Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of the Ata Meken party. The reason for the claim was a press conference held on 1 March 2017, about which Zanoza wrote, and during which Toktakunova voiced, in her opinion, the true reason for Tekebayev's arrest in February 2017.
In her words, the politician had a document indicating that the cargo on the board of the Boeing 747-400, which fell in the village near the Manas airport on 16 January 2017, belonged to the family of Atambayev, who was the president at the time.
Within this claim, the prosecutor's office demanded the news website to pay three million soms (about $ 43,000) to Atambayev, and each of the lawyers to pay five million soms (about $ 72,000). Toktakunova's property was arrested.
The second lawsuit concerned the article titled "Cholpon Jakupova: We Need to Reprove a Person with Manic Inclinations." This article covered the speech of Cholpon Jakupova, the head of the human rights organisation "Legal Clinic Adilet", at the roundtable when she criticised Atambayev.
The Prosecutor General's Office considers that this speech and the headline that Zanoza had used for this material offended the president. The court ruled to recover three million soms (about $ 43,000) from the defendants, banning Jakupova to leave Kyrgyzstan and arresting her property. Besides, the human rights defender has been obliged to refute own statements.
In the third lawsuit, two articles by Naryn Ayip published on the Zanoza website in March 2017. One reported the arrest of Omurbek Tekebayev; the second was a compilation of leaders of authoritarian countries, where the name of Almazbek Atambayev was not mentioned at all.
On 3 July, the Oktyabrsky District Court ruled to exact six million soms ($ 86,000) from Zanoza news website and Naryn Ayip in favour of Atambayev, and the upper court upheld the court's decision on 16 August.
It should be noted that since March of this year five lawsuits have been filed and won against Zanoza in defence of honour and dignity of Atambayev. The Supreme Court has already considered the three of them; two more will be considered later.
The co-founder of the publication, Dina Maslova, in an interview with Kloop.kg news website reports that from now on the publication is launching a crowdfunding campaign to pay money to Atambayev.
"We will collect a pension for the president," she said adding that the judges of the Supreme Court "openly had shut mouths" of the defendants' lawyers. Maslova also informs about the preparation of the application to the UN Human Rights Committee.
Atambayev has previously repeatedly criticised the work of Kyrgyz media, calling journalists "slanderers." In July this year, he said that he does not intend to reconcile with the Zanoza publication and wants to teach journalists a lesson.
"I demand only the press to be truthful. If it's true, write anything about me. But let's get away from slander. If I give this lesson, the rest will simply be afraid," the former president said.