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Journalist Charged With Inciting Hatred Says He Fled Kyrgyzstan


Ulugbek Babakulov denies intending to incite ethnic tensions.

A prominent journalist who has been charged by Kyrgyz authorities with inciting ethnic hatred says he has left the country.

Ulugbek Babakulov, a correspondent for the Russia-based news site Ferghananews, wrote on Facebook on June 12 that he had left Kyrgyzstan on June 8 to get away from what he called the "insanity" launched against him.

Ferghananews said on June 11 that a court in Bishkek blocked the site on June 10, a day after the charge against Babakulov was officially issued.

Fergananews chief editor Daniil Kislov said that both the charge against Babakulov and the blockage of the site were politically motivated. He said Ferghananews had suspended ties with Babakulov while investigations were under way.

The charge stems from an article published in late May about Kyrgyz social-network users' reactions to a conflict involving an ethnic Uzbek man and four Kyrgyz men.

Kyrgyz lawmakers on June 1 called Babakulov's article a "provocation," pointing to its publication shortly before the anniversary of ethnic unrest between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz that left 442 people dead in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.

Babakulov told RFE/RL on June 2 that he had merely raised the issue and had no intention of inciting hatred.

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