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'Death Led Him By The Hand': Widow Reflects On RFE/RL Journalist's Life, Legacy

'Death Led Him By The Hand': Widow Reflects On RFE/RL Journalist's Life, Legacy
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The widow of an award-winning investigative journalist for RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service discusses the tragedy that took Ulanbek Egizbaev's life. Authorities ruled his death an accidental drowning while swimming on vacation with his family at Kyrgyzstan's Lake Issyk-Kul in July 2018. Sapargul Abdinabieva sat down with RFE/RL journalist Burulkan Sarygulova to remember the life and legacy of her husband -- the 28-year-old known by family, friends, and colleagues as Ulan.

Egizbaev was a dogged investigator who reported on corruption cases in government, the Customs Service, various ministries, public-land distribution, and even a scheme at local cemeteries.

Just weeks before his death, Egizbaev received the Golden Pen award from Kyrgyzstan's Independent Union of Journalists.

In February 2018, he documented a $100 million corruption scandal that caused a newly modernized thermal power plant in Bishkek to break down during the coldest spell of the winter -- leaving many residents of the capital without heat or electricity for days.

In 2016, a video produced by Egizbaev and RFE/RL's Mykola Nemchenko won the prestigious Webby People's Voice Award given out by the New York-based International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).

The video told the story of a disabled teenager's daily trip to school in a wheelchair along a rugged path and his elation when a local NGO gave him an all-terrain vehicle that he could operate himself to make the journey.

The Investigative Journalism Foundation, created in tribute to Egizbaev, established an annual prize in his name for the best journalistic investigation in Kyrgyzstan.