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Kyrgyz Rights Activists Criticize Bishkek Prosecutor

Rights activists say the warning on free speech reminds them of the Askar Akaev era (file photo) (official site) 12 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Members of Kyrgyzstan's media, media rights groups, and activists today criticized a warning from the Bishkek city prosecutor to journalists and politicians who make public, unfounded statements about President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Bishkek City Prosecutor Uchkun Karimov made his comments today about a recently-printed interview with a Kyrgyz dissident -- now in Moscow -- that alleged a connection between Bakiev and the murder of a member of parliament.

Karimov told the editors of the newspapers "Litsa" and "Komsomolskaya Pravda" that they, and politicians who make unsubstantiated allegations against President Bakiev, could face charges in court if they ignored today's warning

Tursunbek Akun, head of the government's human rights commission, said the warning was reminiscent of the days of ousted leader Askar Akaev, who was chased from power by protesters in March 2004.

"Never, ever we should repeat the mistakes by Akaev and the previous regime,” Akun said. “Our country signed international conventions on freedom of speech. I think this step by (prosecutor) Uckun Karimov will undermine our country's authority. Our human rights commission will not support it and we denounce it fully."

(RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service)

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