Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Kazakhstan lifts critical reporting ban

Map of Kazakhstan

A Kazakhstan court has overturned a ruling that banned the media from publishing criticism of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's son-in-law.

The Almaty court also threw out libel cases Timur Kulibayev had filed against three newspapers which had reported on corruption allegations against him.

The ruling follows severe criticism of the ban by the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Kazakhstan holds the rotating chair of the democracy and security body.

Igor Vinyavski, whose newspaper was named in the lawsuit, said he was pleased by the court's verdict.

Charges dismissed

"Reason seems to have prevailed," the AFP news agency quoted Mr Vinyavski as saying.

Mr Kulibayev is one of Kazakhstan's most powerful businessmen and is often mentioned as a possible successor to Mr Nazarbayev.

The newspapers had been banned from printing anything about Mr Kulibayev which might have damaged his image.

But on Tuesday, the same court threw out all measures against the newspapers as Mr Kulibayev "had not sought a settlement before turning to the court," said lawyer Sergei Utkin, representing one of the papers.

Kazakhstan became the first post-Soviet country to hold the chair of the 56-nation OSCE in January, saying it would focus on security rather than democracy.

Rights groups criticised the decision to allow the country to take the chair.

They have said Kazakhstan's record on human rights and civil liberties is poor and the government does not allow freedom of speech.

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