The International Press Institute (IPI) calls upon authorities in Kazakhstan to thoroughly investigate an apparent arson attack on a car belonging to independent journalist Dinara Yegeubayeva.

On the early hours of Saturday, January 14, what police later said were five underage culprits set fire to the journalist’s car. The suspects also threw a brick through the vehicle’s rear window.

Yegeubayeva wrote an Instagram post on the details of the attack just after it took place. She said she had parked her car next to the building she lives in, and that the culprits did not damage any other cars in the area. “I interpret this as an attempt at my life. Is this [what] Tokayev’s ‘new Kazakhstan’ [is supposed to look like]?”, she wrote in her social media post, referring to the country’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

On Sunday, Kazakhstani police representatives said they had opened an investigation into the case for “destruction or damage to property”. Later on the same day, the Almaty police department said it had detained five suspects who confessed to the crime. According to the suspects’ testimonies, they accepted a request published online by an anonymous person, and were paid, also online, after destroying Yegeubayeva’s car.

“While we welcome the swift efforts made by Kazakhstani police to identify those suspected of carrying out this arson attack, the investigation must not stop at this stage”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Authorities must identify those ultimately behind what appears to be an effort to intimidate and silence Dinara Yegeubayeva, who documented the repression of mass protests which shook Kazakhstan in January 2022.”

It is unclear what may have led to the attack on Yegeubayeva, However, in a video interview shared on Thursday, January 12 by Russian opposition activist Vladimir Milov, Yegeubayeva condemned the handling of the January 2022 demonstrations by the Kazakh government. “If we were to call things by their names, then what happened last January in Kazakhstan was mass murder”, she said in the YouTube video. “One year passed, and we hoped to see investigation results, which President Tokayev promised to present, to us and to the international community. Unfortunately, this did not take place.”

According to Kazakh media, Saturday’s incident was not the first incident targeting Yegeubayeva. In November, police said they received an anonymous call about an explosive device placed in the journalist’s car. Deminers then inspected the vehicle but found nothing. A day before this incident, an unidentified culprit slashed the tires of the same car and glued its windshield wipers.

In December, Yegeubayeva and several other independent journalists and activists created an electoral block to participate in the upcoming 2023 elections to Kazakhstan’s parliament. They named their block “January 6”, in reference to the violent protests which took place across Kazakhstan in early 2022.