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Activist fined, ordered to apologise to community organisation

(CJES/IFEX) - May 27, 2011 - The Tashkent Yakkasarai Court has ordered human rights activist Tatyana Dovlatova to pay 10 million soms (approx. US$4,000) in moral damages and publicly apologize to a Tashkent "mahalla" (community organization).

The sentence, which was received by the human rights activist in the mail on May 17, states that the Yakkasarai Court heard the lawsuit filed against her by Tashkent resident Natalya Lebedeva on May 13, found her guilty, and ruled that she should pay a hefty fine.

Justice Tamara Kalandarova ordered Dovlatova to pay 10 million soms in moral damages to plaintiff Lebedeva, cover the judicial costs (24,868 soms / approx. US$14), and apologize to the Tashkent mahalla Urikzor.

The text of the refutation contained in the court ruling reads as follows:

"I, Tatyana Dovlatova, apologize to Antonina Nikolayeva and Natalya Lebedeva for the moral damage inflicted on them and fully deny my comments on the housing and living conditions of Antonina Nikolayeva, which were covered in the program 'Spetsialny Korrespondent' aired on Russian television on April 24, 2011."

The court also ordered Dovlatova to send to the Rossiya 1 editorial office a report stating that her statements about Nikolayeva's housing and living conditions were false.

Dovlatova had assisted Russian journalists in the preparation of a news item on the life of Russian people in the former Soviet Republics and organized footage of Nikolayeva's elderly neighbor, who lives alone.

The "Spetsialny Korrespondent" program, which presented Nikolayeva as a poor old woman forgotten by everybody, was criticized by the Uzbek authorities.

Several days after the program aired, unknown people renovated Nikolayeva's apartment, a group of journalists from Uzbek television came to prepare a report refuting the information presented in Dovlatova's report, and Lebedeva, the old woman's newly found niece, filed a lawsuit against the human rights activist, seeking moral damages.

The trial of the lawsuit filed by Lebedeva against Dovlatova began on May 11. The defendant challenged the candidacy of the judge, accusing him of bias, and filed complaints with the Tashkent city prosecutor's office and the Tashkent City Court. However, the complaints were denied.

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