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Kazakhstan: President Urges Investigation Of Attacks On Media

Almaty, 30 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev denounced today a series of attacks against independent journalists and their workplaces. The Interfax news agency quoted Nazarbaev as saying he had ordered the Prosecutor-General's Office to investigate the attacks and find the perpetrators as soon as possible. Nazarbaev described the incidents as "acts of wild vandalism."

The attacks this month included a petrol bombing at the offices of a business newspaper, threats against editors and the beating of two journalists.

The United States and the European Union have expressed concern over the incidents and urged the protection of Kazakhstan's free press.

In Moscow, a group of Kazakh journalists said Nazarbaev had ordered the closing of 22 private newspapers and televisions that were reporting on allegations that the president put $20 billion in profits from oil deals into Swiss bank accounts.

Rozlana Taukina, who heads an association in defense of independent journalists, said Nazarbaev is trying to prevent information regarding the U.S. investigations of these accounts from being heard in Kazakhstan.