Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tajik Journalist Made to Pay $6K for Insulting 'Intellectuals'

A journalist in Tajikistan who used a profanity to describe the Central Asian nation’s intellectual class has been ordered to pay a group a self-described cultural leaders $6,000 in damages, her newspaper reported Tuesday. Olga Tutubalina, who is chief editor of the local Asia-Plus newspaper, quoted Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in remarking in an opinion column about the return of a previously opposition-minded poet to the former Soviet nation that “intellectuals are not the brains of a nation but its [expletive].” A court in the capital, Dushanbe, ordered Tutubalina and her newspaper to publish an apology and pay 30,000 somoni to three plaintiffs, who represent the interests of the Academy of Sciences, the Writers’ Union and the Artists’ Union. The plaintiffs had argued that the profanity was used in an “untrue” manner to “defame their honor, dignity and business reputation,” Asia-Plus reported. The newspaper noted, however, that the court did not rule that the word in question was an unprintable vulgarity or that the plaintiffs are “intellectuals.” The US Embassy in Tajikistan condemned the ruling, stating that the judgment would have a chilling effect on press freedoms.

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