December 22, 2009 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Opposition journalist killed by being thrown from window, others attacked

Kyrgyzstan journalist Gennady Pavlyuk, who was thrown from a sixth floor window in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 16 December, died today in hospital.

Reporters Without Borders expressed its deep sympathy with his family and colleagues.

“Ten days ahead of taking over the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Kazakh authorities cannot allow a murder like this to go unpunished and the Kyrgyz side must cooperate in resolving this case”, the organisation said.

A known independent, the editor of Bely Parus online version was found unconscious at the foot of a building in the heart of the Kazakh financial capital, on 16 December. Police confirmed he had his hands and feet bound.

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21.12.2009 - Journalists pay the price of political polarisation

Reporters Without Borders said today it was extremely shocked by a murder attempt against Kyrgyzstan journalist Gennady Pavlyuk, in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 16 December in which it appeared he had been thrown from a fifth or sixth floor window.

The attack, this time in a neighbouring country, is the third in a week launched against Kyrgyzstan journalists of Russian origin. Political analyst Alexander Knyazev was attacked in the capital Bishkek on 9 December and the correspondent for Russian news agency BaltInfo, Alexander Evgrafov, was struck and threatened by uniformed police on 15 December.

“It is impossible at the moment to establish a direct link between this murder attempt against Gennady Pavlyuk and the two previous assaults, even if a vocal minority has wanted to give the impression that it was a concerted plan. But in any event, the exploitation of these attacks in the interests of a strategy of nationalist and political tension is unacceptable”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Journalists cannot go on being taken hostage by the extreme polarisation of Kyrgyzstan political life”.

“President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s stranglehold on the public debate by stifling any space for free expression, is contributing to the radicalisation of opposition forces and exacerbating tension. All political forces should immediately renounce the use of violence against journalists.”

Following the assaults against Alexander Knyazev and Alexander Evgrafov, several Kyrgyz media received an email claiming responsibility and containing threats against minorities, particularly Russian, viewed as being supporters of the former president Askar Akayev. The Russian press raised an outcry that “journalists with links to Russia” appeared to be targeted in a “terror campaign”.

The press office of the Kyrgyz interior ministry on 18 December confirmed that Pavlyuk had been found two days earlier unconscious at the foot of a building on Furmanov Street, in the heart of the Kazakh financial capital. His rescuers found that he had multiple fractures and a serious head injury with internal bleeding. They concluded that he had been thrown from a fifth or sixth floor window. He is now critically ill at the trauma department of Almaty’s central clinic. The head of this unit, Torekhan Alipbayev, said, “Gennadi Pavlyuk, aged 40, is in the emergency room and in a third stage coma. His state of health is currently precarious”.

Pavlyuk had recently become close to the opposition party Ata Meken, for which he was planning to create a website and a weekly news bulletin.

A number of questions remain unanswered, starting with the reason for which the journalist had gone to Almaty. It is not known whether he had an appointment in the building or if he had been taken there against his will, as believed by representatives of Ata Meken who travelled there at the weekend. Police in Almaty have opened a criminal investigation.

A known independent, Pavlyuk made his reputation as editor of the Kyrgyz edition of the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, under the regime of the former president Askar Akayev. Highly critical of the new government that emanated from the “tulip revolution” in 2005, the journalist at one time thought of leaving the country. Using the pseudonym Ibragim Rustambek, he then became editor of the Kyrgyz edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda, and one of the best known writers for the independent newspaper Bely Parokhod, editing its online version.

Bely Parokhod cast a highly critical eye on cases of corruption linked to the privatisation of energy companies. For the last year, the newspaper’s editor, Yelena Avdeeva, complained of pressure from the “energy barons”. The paper’s website was regularly being made inaccessible and the site frequently had to change its address, while the print version was renamed Bely Parus in anticipation of legal proceedings.

Nationalist rhetoric has deeply infected the political discourse in Kyrgyzstan, which has been independent since 1991. It is deployed as much by the ruling party – which has just made it compulsory to stand up when the national anthem is played - as by an opposition that has been quick to condemn the monopoly on power of people from the south of the country.

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