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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The city of Bishkek rejected “Azattyky” in the action of the Central Bank of Ukraine on the blocking of bank accounts

The Bishkek City Court left the decision of the previous instance in the “Azattyka” case on the recognition of the unfounded letter from GKNB to Finrazved, on the basis of which the bank account of “Azattyka” was blocked. The decision was taken today, February 2, reports RFE/RL.

On December 22, the Pervomaisky District Court dismissed the defense of “Azattyka” in satisfaction of the GKNB’s claim.

At the January 26 meeting, the court granted the request of the lawyers of “Azattyka” to summon to court the head of the investigative group of the Ministry of the Interior, Ulana Japekova, who is investigating the case criminal offense which led to the blocking of the establishment’s bank account. The “Azattyka” defense filed a request for details of the Interior Ministry’s investigation. The investigator did not appear in court on February 2, but council decided to hold a hearing without his participation.

According to lawyer Timura Sultanova, the court decided to investigate the criminal case and listen to Japekova. “If the investigator did not ask objective questions, if the court did not investigate a criminal case, on what basis did the council of the Bishkek city court decide to suspend the actions of the main investigative department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Was the story of the institution “Azattyk Media” justified and legal? We do not understand. In the complaint we indicated why their actions were illegal and what was justified Unfortunately, we did not respect the principles of equality today. The investigator does not come arbitrarily or familiarize himself with the case, we do not know on what basis the criminal case was opened, what is the procedural status of “Azattyk Media”, and the court recognizes their actions as justified. This is absurd,” the lawyer said.

The blocking of the “Azattyka” and “DemirBank” accounts was announced on October 31. On November 15, Gosfinrazvedka replied to the letter from “Azattyky” about the reasons for the blockage. However, the letter mainly contains an excerpt from the law “On countermeasures to the financing of terrorist activities and the legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime”. Asked about the reasons for the inclusion in the “List of persons, groups, organizations for which there is information on their participation in the legalization (laundering) of the proceeds of crime”, the FSFR replied that the basis was a “letter to the National Security Organ of the Kyrgyz Republic”.

On October 26, 2022, the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth of Kyrgyzstan decided to block the “Azattyka” website. Before that, on October 23, “First Radio” stopped broadcasting “Azattyka”, arguing that this decision was due to technical reasons. On November 13, NTS stopped broadcasting the radio program “Azattyka”.

On December 26, restrictions on “Azattyka” were extended to the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic. On January 23, it became known that the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy filed a lawsuit to terminate the activities of “Azattyk Media” as a mass media . The agency points out that video material on the conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border is posted on social networks. The actions of “Azattyk Media”, according to the plaintiffs, contradict the requirements of the Law “On the Media”, according to Article 23, it is allowed to propagate war, violence and cruelty, national and religious exclusivity and intolerance towards other peoples and nations. On this basis, the Ministry of Culture asks the court to stop the activities of “Azattyka”.

RFE/RL Chairman and CEO Jamie Fly, commenting on the lawsuit, said the company will use all available legal means to preserve RFE/RL’s business in the country. “We reject the ongoing illegal attacks against Radio ‘Azattyk’ and our independent reporting. We will continue to serve our loyal Kyrgyz audience regardless of any action taken by the government of Kyrgyzstan,” Fly said.

A number of major international organizations have called for an end to pressure on “Azattyk”.

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