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Kyrgyzstan Denies Entry To Prominent Russian Rights Activist

Vitaly Ponomaryov (photo courtesy of
Vitaly Ponomaryov (photo courtesy of
An activist for the Moscow-based human rights group Memorial was denied entry at Manas Airport in Bishkek by Kyrgyz security officials and sent back to Russia.

Vitaly Ponomaryov, head of Memorial's Central Asian program, flew to Bishkek to attend a press conference held by human rights activists on the independent investigation of public unrest and police actions during and after celebrations of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr in October in the town of Nookat in the Osh region.

"I think the only reason was that our organization published a report in late January on the events in Nookat, about the violations, torture, and fabricated criminal charges that took place," Ponomaryov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

"I think there are people among senior security officials who are not interested in investigating the illegal actions of Kyrgyz security services in Nookat."

Ponomaryov said that he will appeal to President Kurmanbek Bakiev about his treatment.

Kyrgyz human rights activists have condemned the refusal to allow Ponomaryov into the country.

"This is already the second international human rights defender who has been deported for unknown reasons," Aziza Abdirasulova, head of the Kyrgyz human rights group Torch of the Century, told a news conference in Bishkek.

"But members of [the commission investigating the Nookat events] have reason to believe that [Ponomaryov] was deported because of Memorial's findings about the Nookat events."