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Kyrgyz Journalists Warned Against 'Igniting Interethnic Hatred'

Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Aida Salyanova

Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Aida Salyanova

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Journalists in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh have been warned against "igniting interethnic hatred" as they cover the run-up to October's presidential election, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Mairambek Rasulov from the Osh prosecutor's office said authorities will be keeping a closer eye on media outlets in the weeks leading up to the election to prevent any inflammatory statements that might spark interethnic clashes.

Osh was one of the epicenters of violent clashes between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the south of the country in June 2010 that left more than 400 people dead and hundreds injured and/or displaced.

On August 17, Prosecutor-General Aida Salyanova told RFE/RL that "any statements calling for interethnic, interreligious or interregional hatred will have very tough consequences."

Salyanova also said that during the election campaign, which will start on September 25, all statements by presidential candidates will be carefully monitored by experts from Kyrgyzstan's leading universities.

The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security will decide on the basis of those experts' conclusions whether to open a criminal case in connection with provocative or inflammatory statements, both written and oral.

Ninety-eight criminal cases were opened in Kyrgyzstan last year in connection with alleged "'incitement to interethnic, racial and interreligious hatred." Sixty-one similar criminal cases were opened between January and June this year.

Read more in Kyrgyz here