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Missing Kazakh Publisher 'Calls To Say He's In Belarus'

"Respublika" newspaper, whose stand is seen here during a regional media forum hosted by Almaty, moved its headquarters to Moscow several years ago, after Kazakh authorities imposed restrictions on the newspaper.
ALMATY -- A colleague of a missing Kazakh opposition publisher says Daniyar Moldashev has called to say he is in Belarus, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Colleagues said Moldashev, whose Almaty publishing house prints the opposition newspapers "Respublika" (The Republic) and "Golos respubliki" (The Voice of the Republic), went missing after he was attacked and robbed on his way home from Almaty airport on March 25.

Moldashev was returning from Moscow, where he had met with "Respublika" editors.

The attackers stole his camera and some documents related to his cooperation with "Respublika."

Oksana Makushina, an editor of "Golos respubliki," told journalists in Almaty today that Moldashev made a brief call to his deputy, Gyuzel Baidalinova, at around 8.30 p.m. on March 30 and told her that he was in Minsk.

"The phone call was very strange, since he never planned to go to Belarus -- also the number of the phone he used did not appear on his deputy's mobile phone," Makushina said.

She added that there has been no answer on any of Moldashev's known mobile phones since the day he disappeared.

Almaty police said on March 30 that it was too early to talk about abduction ,as there was no evidence to suggest Moldashev was kidnapped or even missing.

"Respublika" moved its headquarters to Moscow from Almaty several years ago after Kazakh authorities imposed restrictions on the newspaper.

"Golos respubliki" suspended its operations after several instances of pressure from local authorities. Some of its reporters had been attacked and beaten in the past.

Read more in Kazakh here