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Investigation reportedly stalled
By Aynur Asanova
BISHKEK – Forty days after opposition reporter Gennady Pavlyuk died in a Kazakh hospital, Kyrgyz journalists honoured their murdered colleague even as the investigation into his death remains stalled and the threat of violence against journalists remains strong.
Nationwide, regional and national newspapers and websites have joined the commemoration of Pavlyuk’s death on December 22 by posting banners that read, “WE REMEMBER! Forty days have passed since the death of G. Pavlyuk”.
Pavlyuk was found unconscious outside an apartment building in Almaty, Kazakhstan December 16. Unknown assailants had bound his hands and feet and thrown him from the sixth floor. He was taken to a hospital where he lay in a coma for six days before dying.
Kazakh police promptly began to investigate Pavlyuk’s death, but have not reported any progress.
Oleq Ivashenko, spokesman of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Interior, said, “The ministry can’t comment on any details of the crime in the interests of the investigation”.
Kazakh media reported in January that Kyrgyz special services were involved in his death, but Kazakh authorities have not confirmed any such involvement. Kyrgyz authorities have denied any part in Pavlyuk’s death.
Speaking to parliament, Kyrgyz Interior Minister Moldomus Kongantiev said, “In relation to the murder of journalist Gennady Pavlyuk, I can announce that this crime was not committed in our country. We are working closely with our Kazakh colleagues”.
Responding to deputies who asked whether the slaying was tied to Pavlyuk’s profession, Kongantiev added, “Up to now, the court hasn’t given a definite answer. We can’t speak on whether this crime was committed because of the victim’s professional activity”.
Pavlyuk edited the opposition newspaper “Alyi Parus”. At the time of his death, he had been planning an opposition-oriented internet portal and newspaper that would have borne the name of opposition party “Ata Meken”.
Pavlyuk’s murder and the subsequent investigation have frustrated some analysts. “Of course our special services will deny it”, said Aziza Abdyrasulova, director of the Kylym Shamy human rights organisation in Kyrgyzstan.
“That’s why I think it would be correct if Kazakhstan itself investigated this crime and solved it. ... I want to say that the investigation of his murder will indicate how worthy Kazakhstan is to chair the OSCE in 2010”.
Alexander Knyazev, a Russian political analyst in Kyrgyzstan, called the murder “a domestic political act committed in a neighbouring country”.
Pavlyuk’s death has also highlighted the dangerous situation for Kyrgyz journalists. A long list of threats directed at journalists and attacks on them has accumulated, including one instance in which a newspaper was sent a death threat that included a Kalashnikov bullet.
According to the organisation “Journalists”, 11 journalists were assaulted in Kyrgyzstan in 2009, three of whom died. Six Kyrgyz journalists have received political asylum in Western countries. Recently the Kyrgyz interior ministry reported to parliament that only one of the attacks was related to the victim’s profession.
Domestic journalists are not the only ones intimidated. Two Russian journalists working in Kyrgyzstan were attacked in December 2009, including Russian BaltInfo correspondent Alexander Yefgrafov, who was assaulted by two individuals wearing police uniforms who told him, “Don't write bad things about Kyrgyzstan”.
Journalists chairman Marat Tokoev said, “All our demands to have ... [attackers of journalists] found and punished go unheeded”.