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Website Editor For RFE/RL's Kazakh Service Severely Beaten In Almaty

Ermek Boltay
Ermek Boltay
RFE/RL President Jeffery Gedmin is calling on the Kazakh government to investigate an attack against the editor of the website of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service.

Ermek Boltay was attacked by a group of unknown assailants outside his home on January 18 in Almaty. He was hit with a glass bottle and kicked until he lost consciousness.

Neither his wallet nor his documents were taken by the attackers.

"As a talented, up-and-coming independent journalist, Ermek represents the future in Kazakhstan," Gedmin said. "An attack on Ermek for doing his job would be not only an assault on RFE/RL, it would be an attack on press freedom and progress in Kazakhstan."

Boltay had recently reported on social unrest in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city.

In a statement, Gedmin noted that Kazakhstan will assume the leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Europe's premiere human-rights watchdog, in 2010.

The attack is the second on an independent journalist in Kazakhstan in the past month.

Local police say they have launched an investigation into the case.

Access to RFE/RL's English and Kazakh-language websites were blocked for seven weeks in April 2008 by Kaztelecom, the government-controlled Internet monopoly.

The websites of several political opposition movements remain blocked.