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Kazakhstan20 August 2002

Journalist attacked by former police officers

image 125 x 111 (JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today voiced concern about the violent attack by three individuals on journalist Artur Platonov of the independent television channel KTK, which took place outside his home in Almaty on 16 August and which has led to his hospitalization.

"There is no shadow of a doubt that Artur Platonov was attacked because his work as a political affairs journalist has ruffled feathers", Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Interior Minister Kairbek Suleimenov calling for a proper investigation and the punishment of those responsible. "International attention is focussing more and more on the suspect behaviour of the Kazakh authorities as the attacks against the independent news media increase", Ménard said. "In this case, the authorities go so far as to ridiculously claim that the journalist broke his own nose in a car accident", the letter noted.

image 90 x 73 (JPEG) Presenter and co-producer of "Portret Nedely" (Portrait of the Week), KTK’s main current affairs programme, Platonov was violently attacked on the evening of 16 August by three men waiting for him outside his home in Almaty. According to Alexandre Choukhoff, editor of the newspaper Karavan, which belongs to the same press group as KTK (Alma Media), Platonov has been hospitalized with multiple fractures to the nose and contusions. His life is not in danger, but he will have to spend several weeks in hospital.

The police identified the three assailants as former police officers (A.M. Ayapov, Zh. Ibrahimkhanov and S.A. Utkelov), but officially maintained that it was a road accident involving their vehicle and Platonov’s which caused the latter’s injuries. KTK deputy director Stanislas Los said the attack "was planned by leading figures within the Kazakh authorities, but we don’t exactly know which". In his programmes, Platonov had regularly denounced corruption within the security forces and often received anonymous threats. He had recently discussed the suspicious death of Leila Baïssetova, the daughter of opposition journalist Lira Baïssetova, which was the subject of an investigation in July by a Report Without Borders and Damocles Network fact-finding mission, which will publish its report soon.

KTK had already been the target of violent attacks. On 16 November 2001, its offices were overrun by Interior Ministry troops, and the station screened footage of soldiers with automatic firearms taking up positions in the building. They intervened on the orders of the National Security Committee which said that "all strategic installations in the Republic of Kazakhstan must be kept under surveillance by the troops of the Interior Ministry" as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan. A senior member of the station’s staff said at that time that it was constantly subject to intimidation, telephone tapping and mail interception.

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