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Co-Chairmen Call for Investigation in Murder of Kyrgyz Journalist

WASHINGTON –  U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) today called for a thorough investigation into the death of Gennady Pavlyuk, a journalist and critic of Kyrgyzstan’s government, who died in Kazakhstan Dec. 22 after apparently being thrown from a sixth-story window with his hands tied behind his back.

“I call upon the authorities in Kazakhstan to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Pavlyuk’s death and to prosecute all of those responsible for this crime,” Chairman Cardin said. “I urge the government of Kyrgyzstan to cooperate fully in this investigation as it appears this killing may have been retaliation for critical reporting on the Kyrgyz government. I remain troubled by Bishkek’s growing trend of repression.”

“Physical attacks on journalists have become all too commonplace across Europe and Central Asia,” Co-Chairman Hastings said. “Even where there is not outright violence against reporters there are other forms of intimidation, including police raids, spurious court cases, and arrests. Vibrant independent media are an essential element of any democracy. Therefore, I urge the government of Kazakhstan to make freedom of the media a top priority during its chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010.”

Two other Kyrgyz journalists have been murdered and seven others attacked during the past year in cases that remain unsolved, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has called violence against reporters in Kyrgyzstan a safety crisis. Kyrgyz and international human rights organizations agree that under President Kurmanbek Bakiev government repression of opposition parties and civil society has considerably intensified.

Worldwide, 69 journalists have been killed thus far in 2009, including at least five in OSCE countries, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Scores of journalists have been murdered in the OSCE region since the early 1990’s. At least 32 journalists have been killed in the Russian Federation during that period – a subject that was the focus of a Helsinki Commission briefing Nov. 3.

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