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Kyrgysztan24 January 2003

Opposition journalist attacked in Kyrgysztan

On January 17, 2003, Alexandra Chernykh, a journalist working for the opposition daily Moya Stolista, was attacked by two unidentified assailants. Chernykh’s mother, Rina Prizhivoit, is the political editor at the same paper where she is well known for her investigations into political corruption including among the family of Kyrgysztan head of state, President Akayev.

"We ask you to take all possible action to identify those responsible for this attack and to bring them to justice. This attack represents a new assault on the freedoms of an independent press and on opposition groups in Kyrgysztan, which continue to face systematic and unacceptable pressures," Robert Ménard, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders stated in a letter addressed to President Askar Akayev.

Alexandra Chernykh was attacked in the centre of the capital Bishkek while on her way home accompanied by her 11 year-old child. She was hit violently on the head by her assailants although her life is not in danger.

Rina Prizhivoit told Reporters Without Borders that she believed the two men had actually been intending to attack her rather than her daughter and that they may even have mixed up the two women. "This act is a clear attempt at intimidation against me. Its intent is to scare me so that I stop writing," she said.

Reporters Without Borders notes that Moya Stolista has been under systematic governmental pressure over a number of years. Last year, the state-run printing monopoly, Uchkun, used numerous false pretexts in preventing the printing of the paper during publications which contained references to corruption in the higher echelons of power in Kyrgysztan.

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