Kazakhstan: Journalist, member of Nur Otan, was actually sentenced to a ban on the profession

Новость на Казах-зерно:

Last Wednesday the final sitting of the court on charges of defamation of the Agency “Kazakh-Zerno” took place. The other day the lawyers received the sentence with reasons for judgment. Unfortunately, we must admit that the judgment was more than surprising.

The judge, leaving without consideration the claims of “Ak Bidai Terminal” on the basis of private prosecution, adjudged a year term of probation to Sergey Bukatov. Bukatov is a member of the ruling party “Nur Otan”, who collaborated with our agency on the rights of an independent journalist, was not connected with the agency by contractual obligations, and of course, has nothing to do with those articles that wounded  the terminal executives so much, and presented in court strong evidence. Which, however, were not taken into account in the process of sentencing.

Meanwhile, the opponent of IA “Kazakh-Zerno” – “Ak Bidai Terminal” seemed to know in advance about decision of the court. Firstly, it was evidenced by the fact that the package with complaint of the private prosecution was dropped off near the door of another office. If it was not found by the scrub-woman of “Kazakh-Zerno”, we would not know about the process, for what we might have additional punishment. In addition, on December 1, under the article “Pirates are crying to the yard”, which was published on the website on June 3, this year, was posted a very interesting comment.

Someone “Reader” wrote the following post: “Dear stage-name Leah Strick! Full judicial sentence  is announced, so what? Pirates turned out to be very law-abiding persons. So, who will be string up from the yard?”. It was sent from email account akbiday_aktau@mail.ru. This is mailbox of the terminal on the popular mail service.

Text of the court prosecutions sounded like a death sentence to press freedom.

« …Bukatov is guilty of an offense under article 129, part three, and assign to this article a year term of probation. The preventive measure for Bukatov as written undertaking not to leave the place to keep the same until entry of judgment into legal force. The term of sentence for Bukatov to date from the moment of presentation in CCUIS. The following restrictions are imposed on Bukatov: no change of residence, work without notice of penal inspection. Bukatov is obliged to come in the UII of Petropavlovsk within 10 days from the date of entry of the judgment into legal force. Claims of JSC “Ak Bidai Terminal” to leave without consideration. Appeal against the sentence may be made within 15 days to the regional court”.

Sergey Bukatov himself continues to insist on his innocence and said that he cited at least four compelling arguments in its favor in the court.

-Today I am faced with the fact: My mouth was simply shut, and I was suspended from work. This is where, in fact, suffered my reputation. I have collaborated with the editors office to maintain my reputation. Now I simply disempowered to operate on further. I was just run over by this decision. I cannot work.

Counterpart of Sergey Bukatov, a well known journalist Viktor Miroshnichenko, found the situation absurd.

At a time when the financial police has to pay real money for the reporting on corruption, the person is “awarded” a year probation purportedly for that he defamed the state enterprise-monopolist. The journalist has no the right to make mistakes, but the spread of false information is very difficult to prove.

All reasons for the judgment are based on the opinion of the philologist S.M. Blatova, which on commission from “Ak Bidai Terminal” found defamatory information in nine articles published on the website kazakh-zerno.kz. As it has been already stated, our information agency requested the assistance of foreign linguists (LINK of Ponomarev) and they readily agreed to help, seeing in the conclusion of Blatova obvious bias, and at close consideration of her work outright negligence and bad knowledge of the subject.

Here are extracts from the conclusion of candidate of Philological Sciences, Senior Lecturer in Russian language and linguodidactics department in OmSPU, E.Y Vidanov: (link Vidanov)
“Familiarity with the conclusion of S.M. Blatova allows making some conclusions and to make them as indications of inaccuracies associated with misinterpretation of verbal material and violation of the procedure of linguistic research …”

“The conclusion was done in the field of literature, not linguistics. We should note that the objects of study in literature and linguistics differ … “

“The list of bibliography includes Big Dictionary of D.N. Ushakov … We believe that it was unworthy of qualification of professional linguist to use the dictionary, the work on the drafting of which began in the 20s of the twentieth century, in the linguistic analysis of the modern text…”

“There are a lot of inaccuracies of such kind, errors of judgment in the text of conclusion. We have given only some of them, but this already allows us to conclude, firstly, about insufficient qualifications of the expert S.M. Blatova in the field od linguistic research, and secondly, that the findings of the expert S.M. Blatova stated in the text of her conclusion, are mostly unreliable and need to be clarified and re-examined, which can be done only by a formal expert examination “.

Our lawyers relied on the last: that the court will take into account the opinion of a competent specialist and appoint examination. But it did not happen. And, eventually, it happened. Even experienced lawyers in the field defence of freedom of speech cannot remember such an incident – when under the article “Defamation” liberty was restricted or deprived.

Lawyer of the North Kazakhstan Bar Vadim Naumov said that all the accusatory part is based on assumptions, that are absolutely unacceptable in sentencing.

– First thing I should note, the principle of considering the category of cases of private prosecution is violated. Unreasonable priority was given to the team of the private prosecution in the evaluation of the submitted documents by the court. In particular, in the presence of equivalent opinions of specialists in the field of philology, was taken into account the conclusion of professional of the private prosecutor.

Conclusions presented by the defense team, one of which was prepared by a teacher of the highest category, the second – a linguist from Russia, were considered as unreliable evidence. Refusing to consider the latter, the court unreasonably referred to Minsk Convention. But it is not applicable in this particular case. The Court refers to the Minsk Convention, but it does not refer to any point of an international agreement, which would be applicable here, said Naumov.

Now, about the opinion that our linguist has no academic degree. First of all, chargers have not submitted any documents on their specialist until recently. The Court, again rather amateurishly, refers to the absence of a scientific degree of our specialist, but it did not refer to any law, which obliges a specialist to have a degree to give expert opinion. Well, what is it? We studied this issue collectively. And we were sure that this would not affect the decision of the court. However, the judge is basing all reasons for judgment of the expert opinion of the prosecutor, simply ignoring our philologists. Such “consideration” of specialists’ conclusions by the court allowed reaching such a verdict. Because if our conclusions were accepted, and the judge was obliged to accept them, then there would not be such sentence, because the fact of defamatory statements was not proven, continued the lawyer.

– But the main thing, I think, there is too much subjective judgment of the court in the sentence, some assumptions, speculations … What is strictly prohibited by criminal procedure legislation. No one sentence, according to the Criminal Procedure Legislation, cannot be based on speculations. And the court in its statement of reasons voices too many assumptions. For example, about scattered order book in LLC “Kazakh-Zerno”. No one law regulates the obligation to conduct clerical work  in company, especially if it is a private entity, which has the right to operate on its own. And how can we impute the absence of that which does not exist in nature? And to treat it as not presentation of evidence? Prosecutor’s team has not provided single evidence that Bukatov really worked as an editor. But he was considered so for unknown reasons. Moreover, he was also accused of spreading misleading information, despite the fact that the editor by no means can be a disseminator of information. In addition, LLC “Kazakh-Zerno” named a person who was actually a newspaper editor at the time. How can you not consider this point and end up with Bukatov who completely denied any involvement in the charges? Another important legal clause – at the time of defamation defendant must know, and to be a hundred percent sure that this is not the case and talk about it. Neither Bukatov, nor the authors of these articles could not imagine that their materials are not true. They were guided by the conclusions of the authorities, the performances of officials.

According to the expert of the Fund “Adil Soz” Saure Zhumalieva, it’s not just about the prosecution of a journalist, but the actual ban on profession.

– We are all well aware that a journalist sitting under recognizance not to leave, whose each step must be arranged by the inspector, in fact, is unable to work. We know Sergey Bukatov as marketing researcher, participant of many grain forums, including international. Permanent work at home will make it impossible for him to work.

Lawyer Alexander Karpov, who represented the interests of the Agency “Kazakh-Zerno” in court, describes what happened in the session hall with characteristic for a lawyer thoroughness and lists all the “mistakes” of justice:

– I cannot say that I was very surprised by this decision. Years of judicial practice taught me not to hope that the court will always be impartial. But, when accused person is in no way involved in the case, and duly proved it during the meeting – it is nonsense. Firstly, the disposition of clause on libel does not assume that you can blame the chief editor.

Here you need to look for someone who specifically was involved in the dissemination of defamatory information. The prosecution failed to do this, and the court, so to speak, “found the guilty” in which, in my opinion, has acted very unexpectedly. Now about the formulation of defamatory actions itself It involves the actual knowledge of the crime.

That is, to accuse a person of defamation, the prosecutor must prove that the person knew the truth and spread false information on purpose, what our opponents could not do, said the lawyer.

– As for the subversion of the terminal activities, this fact drew the particular attention of court. As we found out, in 2010, the terminal clients were only two companies. At the time the articles were published and after, their client base has grown to 15 companies. So what kind of disruption of activities can we talk about? Moreover, the agency was accused, that having tarred the terminal’s activities, it said about corruption crimes. At the same time appeared the terminal itself, not the persons. In fact, in the discussed articles was said about corruption schemes. And how can you blame in the corruption crime entity? – told Karpov our correspondent.

Новость на Казах-зерно:– Indisputable proof of correctness of all the articles is the conclusion of the Agency for Protection of Competition. State anti-monopoly authority after reporters found in the actions of the terminal anti-competitive actions, lobbying of private interests. And, most interestingly, this conclusion is not challenged by anyone to date, that is a legal document. As it was mentioned earlier, the complaint of terminal was based on the linguistic analysis of 9 articles of “Kazakh-Zerno”, in which was found defaming information. Journalists of “Kazakh-Zerno” asked the opinions of other experts about their articles, including foreign experts. They all agreed that the opinion submitted by the lawyer of the terminal is biased. And some of the philologists – Russian and Kazakhstan – have agreed to help the independent media and write their opinions on the articles.

They were presented to the court, and were equivalent to conclusion of the charger. However, the court, in sentencing, apparently, considered only the conclusion of the terminal, said the lawyer.

Today, journalists “Kazakh-Zerno” are preparing to rally in front of the city court building in support of an independent journalist. The posters of journalists have an inscription: “While there is no truth and openness in the AIC of Kazakhstan, it is doomed to failure, and attempts to open the curtain – are cognizable” – such inscription is posted on the website of “Kazakh-Zerno” during a week. Moreover, posters will be decorated with the slogans: “Our mouth was shut”, “a year term of probation instead of reward for reporting on corruption,” “Close the journalist’s mouth, in order “galyamov” generation was happy” and others.

Sasha Blo

“Kazakhzerno.kz” newspaper

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