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Reporter With Kyrgyz Television Killed In Kazakhstan


ALMATY (Reuters) -- A reporter who covered the murder of a leading Kyrgyz opposition journalist this month was found dead in Kazakhstan over the weekend, police said today.

Sayat Shulembaev, 27, a Kazakh citizen working for Kyrgyz web television broadcaster Stan.tv, was stabbed in his apartment in the Kazakh financial capital, Almaty, on December 26, Kazakh police said.

Shulembaev had reported on this month's murder of Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk, who was thrown out of a tall building in Almaty with his hands tied behind his back. Pavlyuk died in hospital on December 22.

The United States expressed concern over the case and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe described it as a "security crisis" for Kyrgyz journalists.

Kyrgyzstan's opposition said Pavlyuk's case was an attack on press freedom and that it was part of the government's campaign to silence dissent in the Central Asian nation that is home to a U.S. air base.

The OSCE said last week that violence against journalists was on the rise in the country, noting that two other Kyrgyz journalists had been murdered and seven others attacked during the past year. None of these incidents has been solved, it said.

Stan.tv, which is based in Kyrgyzstan and operates across ex-Soviet Central Asia, said the attackers also killed Shulembaev's landlord who lived in the same apartment.

It said, however, it believed the case had nothing to do with Shulembaev's work.

"He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Mikhail Pak, Stan.tv's acting senior producer for Kazakhstan, told Reuters by telephone.

(Pak told RFE/RL that Shulembaev had warned his girlfriend two days before he was murdered that he could be killed in a fight between criminal gangs.)

President Kurmanbek Bakiev's administration says it is committed to promoting democracy and press freedom and denied any link to Pavlyuk's case.

Ilim Karypbekov, an official with Bakiev's office, condemned the journalists' killings.

"Kyrgyzstan's law enforcement agencies are doing their best to make sure that every attack on journalists is thoroughly investigated," he told Reuters in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
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