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Kyrgyz Rights Group Criticizes 'Attack On Press Freedom'


BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz rights group says it is seriously concerned by what it calls a coordinated attack by authorities on freedom of speech.

In a statement, the For Democracy and Civil Society coalition said most Kyrgyz Internet users since March 10 had not been able to access popular news websites such as and that broadcasts of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service had been stopped in recent days.

In a statement, RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said: "The Kyrgyz government has been hostile to freedom of the press for some time. This incident is the latest effort by the government to restrict access to free, unbiased, and independent news. Unfortunately, as Freedom House noted in its most recent 'Freedom in the World' report, the situation is only getting worse."

The group and opposition party Ata Meken linked the moves to reports carried on the websites and on RFE/RL about an arrest warrant issued by Italy for a business associate of President Kurmanbek Bakiev's son, Maksim.