Well-Known Kazakh Blogger Arrested For 'Planning To Overthrow Constitutional Order'.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh blogger Marghulan Boranbaev, widely known for his nationalist and anti-Russian views, has been arrested less than a week after another Kazakh blogger, known for his pro-Russian posts, was placed in a detention center.

Boranbaev's lawyer, Anuar Baidar, told RFE/RL on October 2 that his client was placed in a detention center in the Central Asian state's largest city, Almaty, the day before.

According to Baidar, the charges against Boranbaev are groundless, while some of Boranbaev's supporters say that his arrest is a political move by the Kazakh authorities to balance the pro-Russian blogger's arrest in order not to irritate Moscow.

"The case against him was launched last year but due to a lack of evidence it was suspended then. On October 1, we learned all of a sudden that the case had been relaunched and Boranbaev was immediately arrested," Baidar said, adding that his client may face up to seven years in prison if found guilty.

Boranbaev's arrest comes after another Kazakh blogger, Ermek Taishybekov, known for his open pro-Russian views, was arrested on September 26 and charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

Taishybekov's lawyer, Ghalym Nurpeisov, told RFE/RL last week that his client's arrest was linked to his interview with a Russian state media outlet in May in which he said that the policies of Kazakh authorities were "Russophobic."

Taishybekov was convicted on similar charges in 2015 and sentenced to five years in prison. He was granted an early release in 2017.

Moscow's seizure of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine have raised concerns among Russia's neighbors, including Kazakhstan, that the Kremlin may have designs on parts of their territory -- particularly those which, like Crimea, are home to many ethnic Russians.

Kazakhstan's northern regions have large ethnic Russian minorities.

After Russia illegally annexed Crimea, several Kazakh citizens were sentenced to prison terms or received suspended sentences for taking part in military operations in eastern Ukraine or publicly calling for Kazakhstan to join Russia.

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