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Prominent Kazakh Opposition Journalist Resigns

Gulzhan Ergalieva

Gulzhan Ergalieva

The chief editor of Kazakhstan's leading opposition newspaper, "Svoboda Slova" (Freedom of Speech), has resigned.

Gulzhan Ergalieva told RFE/RL today her resignation was motivated by the current campaign for a referendum to prolong Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's term in office until 2020.

She said she has found a new chief editor, Almaty-based journalist Yevgeny Rakhimzhanov, and given up her ownership rights to the paper.

Ergalieva, 59, founded the newspaper in 2005 and has served as its chief editor since then.

"My resignation is the only way to save the newspaper and to ensure the safety of journalists working for 'Svoboda Slova,'" said Ergalieva, one of Kazakhstan's most prominent opposition journalists.

In 2001, a group of masked men broke into her Almaty apartment, beat and tied her up before torturing her husband in front of her for several hours, leaving him handicapped. The attackers were never found.

Ergalieva and her colleagues say the attack was organized by officials in retaliation for her critical articles about the country's political, social, and economic situation.

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-- RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

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