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Thursday, 09 August 2012

Kazakh journalist hospitalised after attack

Unknown assailants reportedly beat reporter, leave him for dead 

By: Steven M. Ellis, IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser

An opposition supporter (C) shouts in front of a police officer during a rally in Almaty on April 28, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

VIENNA, Aug 9, 2012 – the International Press Institute (IPI) today called on authorities in Kazakhstan to investigate an attack that reportedly left a journalist in the capital city of Astana hospitalised with severe injuries.

Unknown assailants beat Ularbek Baitailaq– a Kazakh National Archive employee, who has contributed articles to the opposition Dat weekly, the Chetvyortaya vlast (Fourth Estate) newspaper and the Altyn Tamyr magazine – near his house early Wednesday morning, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service said, citing a report by local media rights organisation Adil Sol.

Adil Sol indicated that Baitailaq’s assailants apparently left him for dead following the beating.

RFE/RL reported that city police could not be reached for comment.

IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said: “We urge Kazakh authorities to conduct a swift, transparent and complete investigation into the attack on Mr. Baitailaq, and to hold the perpetrators accountable. Impunity for attacks on journalists cannot be allowed to flourish.”

Baitailaq’s beating came on the heels of an attack Sunday in Almaty on Voice of the Republic newspaper correspondent Andrew Tsukanova.

Tsukanova – who told Adil Sol that he was walking home when he was suddenly hit in the head from behind with a hard object, causing him to lose consciousness – said he could not definitively connect the attack to his journalistic activities. However, the unknown assailant seized his passport, bank card, press credentials, mobile telephones and a train ticket to the city of Taraz, where Tsukanova was due to travel to cover the trial of human rights defender Vadim Kuramshin.

In April, five unknown assailants in Uralsk stabbed journalist Lukpan Akhmedyaroy in the chest and shot him with what was reported to be a pneumatic pistol. Akhmedyaroy, who works for the weekly newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya, survived the attack and recently was named as this year’s winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, RFE/RL reported. Given by the Global Media Forum Training Group and the U.S. branch of Reporters Without Borders, the award “honors reporters and editors who have demonstrated a commitment to fairness in the story well told, and a matching commitment to defending the right to publish and air that story in countries who repress independent media.”

Last month, Akhmedyaroy was convicted of insulting a local official and sentenced to pay the official approximately 27,000 euros, RFE/RL said. Akhmedyaroy reportedly has ascribed political motivations to both the April attack, which left him hospitalised, and to the proceeding, which was initiated three days before the attack.

 
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