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Veteran Kazakh Journalist Persecuted By Soviets Dies


Zhumaghali Ismagulov, former director KazTAG, showing the reports that raised the Soviet ire, in a December 2009 photograph.

Zhumaghali Ismagulov, former director KazTAG, showing the reports that raised the Soviet ire, in a December 2009 photograph.

ALMATY -- Veteran Kazakh journalist Zhumaghali Ismagulov, who was persecuted by the Soviets during Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika era, has died after a long illness, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Ismagulov, 82, was director in the 1980s of Soviet Kazakhstan's news agency KazTAG. He was sacked from that job after his agency published photographs of Kazakh students on trial.

The students were facing the death penalty or long jail sentences for their participation in an anti-Kremlin demonstration in Almaty in 1986.

Many thousands of young Kazakhs gathered in Almaty's central square in December 1986 to protest the Kremlin's decision to replace the leader of Soviet Kazakhstan, Dinmukhamed Kunaev, with ethnic Russian Gennady Kolbin.

The three-day demonstration was forcibly dispersed and many participants beaten and expelled from school, fired from their jobs, jailed, or even killed. It is unknown how many Kazakhs died in clashes with security forces.

The pictures taken in the court by Ismagulov's journalists showed the defendants in a defiant mood, which did not correspond to the image shown by official Soviet propaganda.

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