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Kazakhstan20 July 2004

Reporters Without Borders urges investigation into death of opposition journalist who was hit by a car

Reporters Without Borders has called for an investigation after journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov, of the online publication Navigator (www.navi.kz), died in an Almaty hospital five days after he was hit by a car.

The international press freedom organisation urged interior minister, Zautbek Turisbekov, to ensure there was an open investigation "to clear up doubts about the journalist’s cause of death."

Sharipzhanov died of a brain haemorrhage on 20 July despite extensive surgery. A car knocked him down late on 16 July after he left Navigator’s office. The driver of the vehicle went to the journalist’s aid.

That afternoon Sharipzhanov had interviewed Altynbek Sarsenbayev, the new information minister and a reformist, as well as Zamanbek Nurkadilov, a major figure in the opposition to President Nursultan Nazerbayev.

Editor of Navigator, Yuri Mizinov, said the transcripts of the interviews had disappeared from the journalist’s computer, as had his tape-recorder: "These details make us doubt the official version of the accident," he said.

"The death of Askhat Sharipzhanov is a serious loss to Kazakhstan’s independent press", said Reporters Without Borders, calling on the authorities to keep it informed of the progress of the investigation.

Navigator is one of the most visited independent news websites in the country. In April 2003, all customers of Kazakhtelecom, the main Internet provider, were prevented from getting access to the site.




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