Kazakh Court Sends Case Against Pro-Russian Blogger Back To Prosecutors

By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, has returned the case against well-known pro-Russian blogger, Ermek Taichibekov, to prosecutors, citing mistakes in the official filing of charges against the 42-year-old defendant.

Taichibekov's lawyer, Ghalym Nurpeisov, told RFE/RL that the Auezov district court pronounced the decision on January 5 at the preliminary hearing into the high-profile case.

Judge Daniyar Sembaev also extended Taichibekov's pretrial detention to one month, Nurpeisov said.

Taichibekov was arrested in September 2020 and charged with using media to incite ethnic hatred.

Taichibekov told his brother at the time that he was detained for an interview with Ukraina.ru, a website tied to the state Rossiya Segodnya media group, which mainly focuses on Russian news and official propaganda abroad.

In a video published on the YouTube channel of Ukraina.ru in May 2020, Taichibekov talked to the presenter against the background of the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian Empire and claimed that the Kazakh authorities were pursuing “a Russophobic policy.”

Taichibekov was previously sentenced to four years in prison in 2015 on charges of inciting ethnic hatred by placing "inflammatory" materials on Facebook and supporting the idea of Kazakhstan uniting with Russia. He served less than two years of that sentence and was released in October 2017.

Several Kazakh citizens have been sentenced to prison since 2014 for inciting separatism and/or ethnic hatred through the Internet amid heightened Kazakh government concern sparked by Russia’s support for separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine and Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea.