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Uzbekistan14 March 2003

A journalist gets death threats after objecting to closure of his weekly

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its concern about death threats received by Ismat Kushev, the editor of the education ministry’s weekly newspaper Milliy Talim, after he protested against the decision of the authorities to close it down.

"These threats against Ismat Kushev must be taken seriously," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to interior minister Zokirjon Almatov. " We ask you to take the necessary measures to ensure that he is protected."

Kushev reported that he received several telephone calls warning him that he would be hanged if he continued to protest. Those making the calls included Rustam Qosimov, an assistant to the education minister. It was Qosimov who had announced at a press conference on 3 March that the newspaper was to be closed because of "grammatical errors" and a lack of funds just one month after it was launched.

Kushev had publicly criticised this decision the same day, calling for the resignation of several senior officials and announcing his readiness to go on hunger strike. He said the authorities did not want an honest and independent editor to tackle the problems of the press and culture in Uzbekistan.

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