Critic Of Kyrgyz Government Official Flees Country

By RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

BISHKEK -- A critic of a top Kyrgyz government official has fled the country to avoid paying a large fine.

Uran Botobekov's relatives told RFE/RL on January 27 that he had to leave the country after the Bishkek City Court upheld a previous court's decision to fine him for libel.

Kyrgyz presidential adviser Ikramjan Ilmiyanov sued Botobekov last year, claiming that the latter had insulted his honor and dignity in an interview with a Bishkek-based news agency in April 2015.

In the interview, Botobekov claimed that Ilmiyanov, who was then deputy chief of the presidential administration, had been behind the privatization of a major publishing house in Bishkek.

Botobekov said Ilmiyanov was seeking influence as well as personal gain.

A court in Bishkek found Botobekov guilty of libel in August 2015 and ordered him to pay a fine of 1.8 million soms ($23,700).

Botobekov dismissed the court's decision as politically motivated. His current whereabouts are unknown.