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Turkmenistan / Russia 6 May 2004

Correspondent for the Turkmen service of Radio Free Europe in Moscow beaten up

Mukhamed Berdiyev, correspondent in Moscow for the Turkmen service of the American Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was beaten up by thugs at his home on 30 April.

The journalist lay badly hurt in his apartment for three days without being able to call for help. He suffered injuries to his head, eyes and ribs.

"As several recent cases have shown, the simple fact of working for RFE/RL’s Turkmenistan service is sufficient reason for harassment by the Turkmen authorities," said Reporters Without Borders, in a letter to the Russian prosecutor-general Vladimir Ustinov.

"We believe the Turkmen security services could be behind this attack on Berdiyev and we urge you to open an investigation to find those responsible and punish them in an exemplary fashion."

Three men turned up at Berdiyev’s Moscow apartment in the evening of 30 April. They beat the journalist until he lost consciousness, destroyed his computer and damaged telephone and electric fittings.

The same day an unknown Turkmen national had contacted Berdiyev, saying he had some documents to give him. The previous evening, his son, Chanazar Berdiyev, also an RFE/RL correspondent, had his home searched. In the days before the attack, Berdiyev was working on a report on Turkmen nationals who had recently fled the country.

Berdiyev had been attacked on a previous occasion, in July 2003.

Rakhim Esenov and Ashyrguly Bayryev, writers and journalists for RFE/RL, were arrested by agents of the national security ministry in Ashgabat, on 26 February and 1st March 2004 respectively. The authorities warned them to stop working for the radio, before releasing them.

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