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Journalist receives death threats

(CJES/IFEX) - Zhanary Davletova, a journalist with the "Uralskaya Nedelya" newspaper, has alleged that unidentified people have phoned her and threatened to use force against her, the Azattyk radio station reported on 2 July 2009.

Davletova, who is the newspaper's crime columnist, has written much about police activity recently. Her reports have revealed that some police officers hide the illegal activity of certain businessmen.

Davletova said that the first time she received threatening phone calls was after the 16 April publication of an article entitled "It's Good That Manshuk Cannot See." In the article, the journalist wrote that the owner of a hotel in Uralsk, a city in western Kazakhstan, opened a brothel.

"Several days after the article was published, a woman phoned me and uttered several swear words, then said, 'I will kill you.' The telephone rang four more times with a minute between each call. These threats were made following the publication of my article 'It's Good That Manshuk Cannot See,'" Davletova said.

Moreover, the journalist said that a person named Saginbayev, who introduced himself as the hotel's chief security officer, phoned her. "He delivered a rough ultimatum, saying that I must write a refutation, otherwise something bad might happen to me. Then I asked Saginbayev, 'Are you threatening me?' He did not reply and hung up," Davletova said.

The threatening telephone calls persisted, leading Davletova to turn to law enforcement agencies, the Kazakh National Security Committee and a prosecutor's office, asking them to find the people who phoned her.

"However, I was denied the opportunity to open a criminal case. The law enforcement agencies are now exerting psychological pressure on me. They are filing a lawsuit against me, demanding that I refute the articles in which I wrote about violations of the law by some policemen. No actions were taken following my application concerning the threats. Given all of this, I suspect that police officers made these calls," Davletova said.

Meanwhile, according to the spokesperson for the West Kazakhstan region's police department, Fatikholla Mashtakov, the "Uralskaya Nedelya" newspaper often publishes articles undermining the authority of local police.

"Articles by Zhanary Davletova are based on untrustworthy sources, but the editor's office still publishes them. We filed several suits and won one of them. Now the 'Uralskaya Nedelya' has to pay a fine of 200,000 tenge [approx. US$1,300]. Naturally, we will transfer the sum to an orphanage,” Mashtakov said.

Local human rights activists say that the "Uralskaya Nedelya" is the only periodical in Uralsk that provides objective and true information.

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