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Kyrgyzstan29 September 2006

Arson attack by hooded men causes serious damage to independent TV station

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Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attack last night on Pyramid TV, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest independent TV station, in which four hooded men assaulted two technicians who were repairing its main antenna and started a fire that caused about 200,000 dollars in damage.

Prime Minister Felix Kulov has told the police to keep a close watch on the station, which is expected to remain off the air for some time while it carries out repairs.

“The destruction of the station’s technical equipment points to an escalation in threats against the media and a desire to prevent Pyramid TV from operating,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the Kyrgyz authorities to protect Pyramid TV representatives who have received threats and to do everything necessary to find out who is responsible.”

Pyramid TV is often critical of the government and President Kurmanbek Bakiev, and its employees frequently receive threats. Its editor-in-chief, Yelina Chernyavskaya, received a death threat in April. The station has been bought and sold several times, which the staff have condemned. While Aksar Akayev was still president, it was sold to his son-in-law. The station was flooded in December 2005 by individuals who claimed to be its new owners.

Pyramid TV’s representatives say they are convinced the attacks have been prompted by its programmes even if they do not know the identity of those responsible.

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