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New lawsuit against the newspaper "Vremya Po"

Vremya po

Almaty department of information, culture and public accord submitted a lawsuit against the newspaper “Vremya Po” to Almaty inter-district economic court. The department conducted total inspection of activity of “Vremya Po” beginning from September last year up to the present time and found “big number” of violations, because of which it requests the court to stop publication of “Vremya Po” for three months (!). Among these “violations” the officials give such examples as “from October 2 to 5, 2001” the newspaper was published four times”, although date-line of “Vremya Po” declares periodicity of publication twice a week.

The trial session took place on March 25, where representative of Almaty department of information read the text of the lawsuit statement. However, owner of “Vremya po” does not agree with demands of the officials from the department of information. First of all, at the present time the newspaper is being sued by Rakhat Aliyev and is paying out 3 million tenge as compensation for moral damage. Second of all, social damage from the aforementioned “violation” does not correspond the demanded punishment - to hold publication of the newspaper for here months. Almaty department of information also specifies as “violations” the following: it was declared that on 15.01.2002 12800 copies were published, however, 3000 copies more were printed in addition, meaning that the total edition constituted 15800”. According to the “Vremya Po’s” lawyer, the law “On mass media” does not have a clear definition of the word “Edition”, meaning there is no concrete definition as to whether it is supposed edition or factual.

Consequently, one may question consistency of such pretensions. On March 26, 2002 specialized inter-district economic court of Almaty under the chairmanship of the judge Bodrova Y. D. rendered a decision to satisfy the lawsuit of Almaty department of information, culture and public accord and “suspend publication of the newspaper “Vremya Po” for two months". The court’s decision emphasized that the aforementioned "decision may appealed against in the municipal court within 15 days". However, as early as on the next day, March 27, municipal department of information sent a new lawsuit statement to the same court, where it insists on “execution of the court’s decision without delay”. The statement once again lists the same violations in date-line of the newspaper.

However, the last point of the listed violations of the newspaper plays the main role: "Available grounds indicate that after rendering of the court’s decision (Vremya Po of March 26) and before its entering into legal force, these violations will also be present". Let us remind you that this is a statement of March 27.

Meaning, they are neither giving us a chance to appeal against the court’s decision, nor to correct the aforementioned errors n the date-line of the newspaper.

On the same day, March 27, the same court with the same judge satisfies this new petition. Surprisingly quick response! The court’s decision reads: “immediately execute the decision on suspension of publication of the newspaper “Vremya Po” for two months. However, even this definition provides for right to appeal against the court’s decision within 10 days. Further events sharply quicken. As soon as on the next day, March 28, founder of the newspaper “Vremya Po” receives a “proposal” from the court officer M. Telzhanov on immediate execution of the court’s decision. At the same time, the proposal does not mention right and term for contra-appeal. After one more day, on Saturday, a whole troop of court officers arrives to the editorial office, who were on duty in the office throughout two days until its last employee left. Their task, according to them, is not to give the newspaper a chance to publish an edition. We are not going to say that their ”duty” was illegal. We just did not want to worsen the situation. Every monitor, every employee and printer was under control. From time to time court officers checked what was on computer monitors. While employees were doing their routine editorial work - monitoring of materials of information agencies, processing of current materials. On Monday, April 1, at 4 o’clock they came to the office once again and proposed the newspaper employees to abandon the accommodation, which they had to seal. Here were six of them. They did not present any decisions or documents ordering to seal the office. Hey only handed over the secondary warning on voluntary execution of the court’s decision on immediate suspension of publication of the newspaper. They also could not present anything to representatives of electronic mass media, who immediately arrived to support their colleagues. They also did no present proper documents even to Mr. Dariush Zitek, OSCE analyst on political issues and Ms. Halida Isayeva, employee of the information service of the US Embassy.

Newspaper employees did not abandon their work places. Collective repulse and journalist solidarity of our colleagues from television channels, support of OSCE and US Embassy representatives forced the court officers to abandon the editorial office. They appeared again approximately after half an hour of ending of the working, seemingly, planning to seal the empty office. It did not work ether. Journalists do not have fixed work hours. What will happen next?

TIME will show. We are going to stand for our rights. He court did not deprive us of right to appeal against this decision. However, court officers are trying to deprive us of this right. If one could use their energy for peace purposes. And the newspaper was published in the end. It was made up as early as Friday.

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