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Kazakhstan28 June 2002

The daughter of Lira Baysetova died in mysterious circumstances

 image 170 x 120 (JPEG)  Reporters Without Borders and the Damocles Network wish to express their great concern about the disturbing circumstances of the death of the daughter of Lira Baysetova, editor of the opposition weekly Respublika.

"The events surrounding her death and the frequent strong verbal attacks on her journalist mother cast doubt on the supposed accidental nature of her demise", said Robert Ménard, general secretary of the organisation, in a letter adressed to Kairbek Soleymenov, minister of Interior. "Reporters Without Borders and the Damocles Network suspect this tragedy is linked to her mother’s journalistic work, notably recent articles about the Swiss bank accounts of senior Kazakh officials. We ask you to take all necessary steps to ensure Mrs Baysetova’s safety and will hold you responsible for anything untoward that happens to her", added Robert Ménard.

image 68 x 50 (GIF) Mrs Baysetova’s daughter Leyla disappeared on 23 May, the same day her mother received a threatening phone call from a man she had a dispute with two months earlier. The caller reportedly said: "I’ve warned you, but you’ve ignored what I said and you continue..." On 16 June, a man who said he was from the interior ministry told her that her daughter had been arrested for possession of 1.6 grammes of heroin. Later, he said she had been taken to hospital because she felt ill. Mrs Baysetova was not allowed to see her daughter there and learned on 21 June that she had died. She said her body showed signs of torture.

Pressure had increased on Mrs Baysetova and her colleagues since she interviewed the Geneva general prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, on 10 May about the Swiss bank accounts of several top Kazakh officials, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev. A week later, the headless body of a dog was found hanging over the entrance of the offices of the opposition newspaper Soldat which was about to publish the interview. The day the interview appeared, unidentified men attacked the building, beating two employees, stealing computers and smashing other equipment. The same day, the offices in Almaty of the weekly paper Respublika burned down after petrol bombs were thrown at the building.

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