Сөз бостандығын қорғау халықаралық қоры
Международный фонд защиты свободы слова
The International Foundation for Freedom of Speech Protection

Violations of freedom of speech in Kazakhstan November 2023

11 march 2024

The International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech «Adil Soz» presents an overview of events reflecting the situation in Kazakhstan with freedom of expression, receipt, and dissemination of information in November 2023.

On November 8, in a statement on cyberattacks on journalists, the «Adil Soz» Foundation  reported an increase in cyberattacks on journalists and media editorial offices, which pose a serious threat to freedom of speech, independent journalism and information security.
Fake accounts of Mikhail Kozachkov and BESMedia appeared online. The phones of several journalists, including Sandugash Duisenova and Mikhail Kozachakov, were hacked. The attackers gained access to the installed applications.

In the first 11 months of this year, monitoring recorded 42 incidents related to the digital security of journalists and media outlets. These included DDoS attacks, creation of fake pages and accounts of media outlets and journalists, placement of journalists' phone numbers on intimate services websites, telephone bullying, disclosure of personal data in the public domain, hacking and attempted hacking of publications' pages and accounts in social networks.

The current year's figure exceeds the number of recorded incidents for the same period in 2022 (January-November) by 1.3 times (32 in 2022). Only isolated incidents of threats in the digital environment were recorded until 2022: 9 in 2019, 10 in 2020, and 8 in 2021.






November 2023

Total digital security threats







a) DDos attacks on websites and accounts of media outlets,

journalists, bloggers






b) Hacking of media websites, editorial offices, journalists'

and bloggers' social media accounts






Total number for (a) and (b)







Also in November:

- Arkadiy Klebanov (Manevich), the initiator of the mass attacks on independent journalists, was found insane by the court and sent for compulsory treatment in a general psychiatric facility. The coordinator of the attacks, Oleksiy Tokarev, was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months suspended sentence for obstructing the professional activities of journalists, violation of privacy and personal data, involvement of minors in criminal offences, threats, hooliganism, disruption of an information system and intentional damage to other people's property.

This decision was made by the Specialised Interdistrict Juvenile Court of Almaty in the case of attacks on the editorial offices of Orda.kz and Elmedia.kz, journalists Gulnar Bazhkenova, Gulzhan Yergalieva, Vadim Boreiko, Samal Ibrayeva, Dinara Yegeubaeva, and cameraman Roman Egorov.
Independent journalists and media outlets were subjected to threats, attacks, DDoS attacks, and telephone bullying from September 2022 to February 2023. Unknown persons have set fire to their cars, taped their front doors with foam, distributed personal data online, and smashed windows in the building where ElMedia's editorial staff rents an office.
On February 28, the police reported about the detention of the coordinator of the attacks on journalists Oleksiy Tokarev, and on March 2 - about the identification of his accomplices. On March 4, the Interior Ministry reported the detention of the initiator and organiser of the attacks on journalists and editorial offices Arkadiy Klebanov (Manevich). According to the Interior Ministry, Klebanov (Manevich) had personal claims to several media outlets and journalists and organised the attacks «for personal reasons».
The affected journalists, including the chief editors of Orda.kz, Ulysmedia.kz, and ElMedia – Gulnar Bazhkenova, Samal Ibraeva, and Gulzhan Yergalieva, as well as Vadim Boreiko, the host of the «Hyperborei» project, and Roman Egorov, the project's operator, Dinara Egeubayeva, the host of the YouTube channel «DINARION», expressed their doubts about Klebanov (Manevich) being the organizer and mastermind of the crimes. Their request for a lie detector test on his statements was denied.
The case was heard in the Specialized Interdistrict Court for Juvenile Cases in Almaty starting from September 14, behind closed doors because some of the accused were minors. Subsequently, the chief editor of Orda.kz Gulnar Bazhkenova petitioned for holding closed meetings on her episodes related to her minor son. For similar reasons, Samal Ibraeva also filed a petition for a closed court. Another statement on holding closed meetings was received from Gulzhan Yergalieva.  
Arkadiy Klebanov (Manevich) did not participate in the sessions due to his mental condition. He is charged under several articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan: public dissemination of information about private life, involvement of a minor in committing criminal offences, threat, obstruction of legitimate professional activities of a journalist, hooliganism, disruption of information system or telecommunication networks, intentional destruction, or damage to other people's property.
On November 1, the court sent him for compulsory treatment in a psychiatric  facility.
On November 21, the court sentenced Oleksiy Tokarev to 4 years and 6 months of suspended imprisonment on charges of obstructing the legal professional activities of journalists, violation of privacy and personal data, involving minors in committing criminal offences, threatening, hooliganism, disruption of the information system and intentional damage to other people's property.
The court sentenced four minors, Tokarev's accomplices, to one year and four months of restricted liberty, finding them guilty of hooliganism and wilful destruction of other people's property.

- The author of the Telegram channel «Kozachkov offside», journalist Mikhail Kozachkov, appealed to the Prosecutor General in connection with provocative mailings received by subscribers of the channel on his behalf. Accounts from which the mailings are sent are copying Kozachkov's account.

The Telegram channel «Kozachkov offside» has been under attack since early October. In addition to the number of subscribers being scrambled by bots, the journalist's readers started receiving threatening messages to make them unsubscribe from the channel. Then the readers started to receive messages discrediting the journalist, mailings with pornographic videos. The journalist treated such provocations calmly. 
However, on 2 November, against the background of the military conflict between Palestine and Israel, messages with provocative calls to go to actions started to be sent on behalf of Kozachkov. The messages were sent from fake accounts. The journalist reported this to the Almaty Police Department and the Committee of National Security of Kazakhstan in Almaty. On the night of November 5, subscribers of the Telegram channel «Kozachkov offside» received a new mailing calling for action with a set date. The accounts, from which the provocative mailing is conducted, copy Kozachkov's account. In total, there are more than 50 such accounts. 
Mikhail asks the Prosecutor General to instruct the law enforcement agencies to investigate and act against the unidentified persons, as well as to bring them to criminal responsibility for inciting ethnic hatred and extremism.

- The pre-trial investigation into the case of obstruction of the lawful professional activity of the journalist of the KazTAG news agency Diana Saparkyzy was terminated. The investigator found no corpus delicti in the actions of security guards at the Kazakhstanskaya mine of AMT, who on August 18 attacked the journalist, who was covering the consequences of a fire at the mine.

Initially, the police of Shakhtinsk city (Karaganda region) made only a report on administrative offence against Boris Tirkin under the article on intentional infliction of minor harm to health. After public appeals and public outcry, Saparkyzy's lawyer Shirin Amirgalieva was informed about the beginning of a criminal investigation under Article 158 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Interfering with legal professional activity of journalist with the use of force or threat). On October 27, the administrative investigation was terminated, and on November 8, the criminal investigation was terminated as well. Diana's lawyer appealed the decision to terminate the criminal investigation to the Prosecutor's Office of Karaganda region.

- The court found the Radio Free Europe-Radio Azattyk office guilty of disseminating false information in the media and imposed a fine for one phrase from the publication. Journalist Nurzhan Baimuldin was fined under the same article of the Code of Administrative Offences for a post on social networks.

On November 16, R. Aliyeva, judge of the specialized inter-district court for administrative offenses in Almaty found Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty-Kazakhstan guilty of disseminating false information. The court imposed a fine in the form of an administrative penalty amounting to 30 MCI (103,500 tenge). The court's decision can be appealed in the appellate instance.
The trial was initiated on the application of Alisher Turabayev, a resident of Shymkent city. He believes that the article «Lawyer: Detained Timur Danebaev «temporarily» transferred from the detention facility in Atbasar to Kokshetau», published on September 19 on the Azattyk website, where, as stated in the statement, it is affirmatively reported that «Russia leads the CSTO». Alisher Turabayev believes that this statement, asserting that Russia leads the CSTO, calls into question the sovereignty and independence of our country, the economic independence of Kazakhstan, and misleads readers.
On November 22, the Specialized Court for Administrative Offenses in the city of Kokshetau found journalist Nurzhan Baimuldin guilty of disseminating false information and imposed a fine as a penalty. According to the protocol on the administrative offense dated November 7, false information was contained in a post made by Baimuldin on his personal Facebook page on October 29, 2023.
The protocol was drafted by district inspector B. Kasymov, based on the report of the senior police officer of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Akmola region, B. Zhakupov. It stated that during monitoring of Facebook, a post by Nurzhan Baimuldin containing negative comments about the President of Kazakhstan was discovered. The actions of the journalist were considered to be an administrative offence under Part 3 of Article 456-2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of Kazakhstan.

In November 2023, a total of 34 reports of incidents related to the professional activities of the media and journalists, the receipt and dissemination of information were registered (excluding reports related to ongoing cases):
- 7 reports were related to violations of journalists' rights.
-20 reports concerned the right to access and disseminate information.
-7 cases of presentation of judicial and pre-trial claims to journalists and editorial offices in connection with publications.


In November 2023, in connection with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the following have been filed:
- 5 pre-judicial claims and civil lawsuits (including 4 related to protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation).
- 2 administrative charges.

Since the beginning of the year, in connection with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the following have been filed:
- 9 criminal charges (including 3 in court). 
- 57 civil claims and lawsuits (including 47 for the protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation). The claimed amounts of compensation for moral damage in cases of honor and dignity protection amount to 24,750,000 tenge. The courts recovered 600,000 tenge.
- 24 administrative charges, including 12 for defamation and 2 for spreading fake information (Article 456-2 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Administrative Offences). 




The monitoring was prepared according to reports to correspondents of the «Adil Soz» Foundation and information from open sources.
Head of the Monitoring Service of the «Adil Soz» Foundation - Elena Tsoy
Email: lena@adilsoz.kz
For all monitoring-related inquiries, you can also contact: info@adilsoz.kz 

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