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Kazakhstan5 April 2005

Opposition newspaper editor repeatedly harassed in southern city

Reporters Without Borders called on the Kazakh authorities today to stop their repeated harassment of Albert Zhieger, the editor of Alternativa, the only opposition newspaper in the southern Zhambil region.

"We urge interior minister Zautbek Turisbekov to take measures to ensure that the harassment and intimidation of this journalist cease at once," the organization said, adding that, "press freedom must be guaranteed in Kazakhstan."

Intruders got into Zhieger’s apartment in his absence on 30 March, stealing computer diskettes with the newspaper’s files as well as other important notes and documents about opposition movements in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but leaving money, the computer and other objects of value. Because of the loss of files, Alternativa’s next issue is unlikely to come out.

Previously, two policemen arrested Zhieger at his home on 19 March, on the eve of a planned visit to Almaty to cover a meeting of the new opposition movement called "For a more just Kazakhstan." The police took him to the office of the regional prosecutor, where officials questioned him about his trip and tried to dissuade him from going.

When Zhieger set off as planned the next day, policemen arrested him in the train shortly after his departure on the pretext that his ID papers needed verifying. He was unable to write the report he had planned.

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