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Court in Kyrgzystan to pass verdict on ethnic Russian journalist’s case

July 03, 2012, 2:19 UTC+3

If found guilty, Farafonov may face a term of eight years in jail

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BISHKEK, July 3 (Itar-Tass) – A district court in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek is due to pass a verdict on the Russian-speaking journalist and blogger, Vladimir Farafonov, who is charged with fanning ethnic strife, officials at the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan told Itar-Tass.

Kyrgyzstan’s State Security Committee instituted a criminal case against Frafonov last fall. Security officials reasoned that the materials Fravonov published at various websites “contain elements of fanning ethnic strife in the situations where he made inappropriate comments on the developments in this country in 2010,” in the course of which President Bakiyev was ousted.

The journalist denies any guilt on his part.

Bishkek’s Pervomaisky district court passed a decision several days ago to ensure Farafonov’s compulsory presence in the courtroom, since he did not attend the court session recently saying he was concerned for his personal security.

He said aggressively minded Kyrgyz nationalists approached him after one of the sessions and made threats of physical violence against him if the court failed to pass a verdict that they would deem harsh enough.

“My defendant has serious concerns for his own life and that’s why he refuses to attend the court sessions,” his lawyer Tiktayim Umetaliyeva said.

She indicated that “Farafonov is ready to accept any verdict.”

“Also, I’d like to say the judges didn’t bother to summon any one aggrieved individual or eyewitness throughout the duration of the trial,” Umetaliyeva said

In the meantime, many public figures and politicians in Kyrgyzstan have spoken up in Farafonov’s defense. They believe the criminal case against him was instituted as part of a political contract issued by the authorities, which are seeking weed out independent thinking.

Russia’s embassy in Bishkek expressed solidarity with the journalist, too, and demanded that the authorities assure a diligent execution of his rights, including the right to personal security.

“We consider Vladimir Farafonov to be a Russian compatriot abroad,” a spokesman for the embassy said.

If found guilty, Farafonov may face a term of eight years in jail.

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