Kazakh Authorities Raid Offices Of Forbes Magazine, Detain Reporter

Kazakh authorities have raided the editorial offices of Forbes Magazine's local edition, briefly detaining a senior reporter and seizing his notes and computer files.

Law enforcement officers in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Almaty, also targeted an online news site called Ratel.kz on April 2 and detained several employees. Computer and servers at both outlets were also seized.

The raids appeared to be linked to an ongoing dispute involving former Finance Minister Zeinulla Kakimzhanov, who has filed lawsuits in the past over articles by both outlets that investigated corruption allegedly involving Kakimzhanov and his son.

Almaty police said the April 2 raids were prompted by an anonymous complaint, from a person identified as "Citizen K," who claimed that the outlets were knowingly distributing false information.

Askar Aukenov, the chief editor for Forbes' Kazakh edition, said in a Facebook post that a dozen officers arrived at their Almaty offices around midday with a court order authorizing the search of the computers used by deputy editor Alexander Vorotilov.

He said court order was issued in response to a request from Kakimzhanov. He said it wasn’t immediately clear what information or stories may have prompted the court order.

Aukenov said police confiscated Vorotilov’s computer, flash drives, and notes, and then went with Vorotilov to his home to search his apartment.

He was later released.

The website Ratel.kz, meanwhile, said in a Facebook post that its chief editor Marat Asipov and deputy editor Sapa Mekebayev were detained, along with a columnist, Anna Kalashnikova.

Last April, an Almaty court ruled in favor of Kakimzhanov and his son in their lawsuit, awarding them about $156,000 in damages.