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Kyrgyzstan: Supreme Court Frees Journalists

Bishkek, 6 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Supreme Court in Kyrgyzstan has dismissed libel charges against one journalist and reduced the sentence against another in a case that has attracted attention of Western human rights campaigners. Both journalists had been convicted of libeling the manager of the country's state gold company.

Yesterday, the court in Bishkek overturned four libel convictions against Zamira Sydykova, chief editor of the independent "Res Publica" weekly. She has been released and can now return to work at her newspaper.

Our correspondent in Bishkek says Sydykova was congratulated outside the court by supporters, fellow journalists and human rights activists who had fought for all charges against both journalists to be dismissed.

The outcome was less favorable for her colleague at the newspaper, Alexandr Alyanchikov. His 18-month prison sentence was reduced to one year and suspended, meaning that he remains free as long as he does not commit any crimes. However, he is not allowed to work as a journalist for one year.