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

The organizer of the attacks on journalists has been sent to a psychiatric facility

1 november 2023

Today, on November 1st, the court proceedings regarding the organizer of attacks on independent journalists and media, Arkadiy Klebanov (Manevich), concluded in Almaty.

To recap, from September 2022 to February of this year, independent journalists and media outlets faced threats, physical assaults, DDoS attacks, and phone harassment. Unknown individuals set their cars on fire, sealed their entrance doors with foam, exposed their personal information online, and broke windows in the building where the ElMedia editorial office rents space.

On February 28, the police reported the detention of the coordinator of the attacks on journalists, Oleksiy Tokarev, and on March 2, they announced the identification of his accomplices. On March 4, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported the arrest of the initiator and organizer of the attacks on journalists and editorial offices, Arkadiy Klebanov (Manevich). According to the Ministry, Klebanov (Manevich) had personal grievances against a number of media outlets and journalists and organized 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 Boreyko, 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 due to the fact that 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 proceedings due to his mental condition. He was charged with multiple articles of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan, including Article 147, Part 5 (Public dissemination of private information), Article 132 (Involvement of a minor in the commission of criminal infractions),  Article 115 (Threat), Part 2 of Article 158 (Interfering with legal professional activity of journalist), Article 293 (Hooliganism), Article 207 (Disfunction of work of the information system or telecommunications networks), Article 202 (Intentional destruction or damaging of another’s property).

Today, the court considered measures of mandatory medical treatment for Klebanov based on expert assessments that indicated he suffers from a chronic mental disorder.

Relying on the expert opinions, the court concluded that Arkadiy Klebanov (Manevich) was «in a state of insanity when organizing attacks on journalists: he could not comprehend the actual nature and social danger of his actions and control them due to a chronic mental illness».

The judge ordered his compulsory treatment in a psychiatric facility.
Civil suits by the affected journalists for compensation for material damage and moral harm were partially satisfied, with more than 14 million tenge collected from Klebanov's legal representative.

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