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Protesters Rally For Kyrgyz Newspaper

Protesters claim the government is trying to muzzle the media ahead of elections Bishkek, 21 February 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Scores of activists rallied today outside the Kyrgyz government building demanding an end to what they called persecution against an independent newspaper.

Activists of the nongovernmental organization Kylym Shamy (Torch of the Century) and the independent youth group Kelkel were calling for an end to a legal suit against the newspaper "Moya stolitsa novosti," saying it was politically motivated.

The pro-government daily "Vechernii Bishkek" recently filed a lawsuit against the newspaper for reporting that it is controlled by Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev's son-in-law.

Akaev has also threatened to file a lawsuit against "Moya Stolitsa Novosti" for printing allegedly false material about him and his family.

Some of the protesters at today's rally put locks on their mouths to symbolize what they said were government efforts to muzzle independent media ahead of the country's 27 February parliamentary polls.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)

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