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Kyrgyz human rights activist Nematillo Botakoziev has been reported missing in Dushanbe, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Botakoziev, 42, has not been seen since February 26 when he was at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Dushanbe applying for refugee status.

Botakoziev had applied for UNHCR protection after reportedly being repeatedly harassed by police in the southern Kyrgyz town of Nookat since 2004.

He said he was being persecuted by the police because of issues related to his Uzbek wife, Mavlyuda Abdulazizova, who had been sentenced more than a decade ago in Uzbekistan on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

She was pardoned in July 1999 and fled to Kyrgyzstan, where she met and married Botakoziev.

In September 2008, Nookat residents attacked the local administration building to protest an official refusal to allow a public celebration of the Muslim holiday of Eid. Botakoziev was accused of organizing the protest and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He fled to Tajikistan and denies any involvement in the protest.

Botakoziev was also an associate of Kyrgyz journalist Alisher Saipov, who was shot dead in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh in 2007.
Flowers near the photo of slain journalist and human rights activist Natalya Estemirova in Moscow in August 2009
A media rights watchdog has urged Russia to publish details of its probe into the murder of a rights worker after the Russian press reported that suspects had been identified.

The murder of human rights worker Natalya Estemirova in the volatile Chechnya region, where she was a vocal critic of hard-line Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, sparked international condemnation, and pledges that her killers would be caught.

"For seven months, authorities have been silent about their efforts to solve the brutal slaying of our colleague and we call on them now to further publicize their progress," Nina Ognianova of the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement.

Estemirova, 50, was kidnapped in July in Russia's volatile Chechnya region and shot. Her body was dumped in woodland in neighboring Ingushetia.

News reports this week cited investigators as saying a suspect had been identified.

Rights workers say the slow investigation is symptomatic of Russia's endemic corruption and lawlessness.

Estemirova worked at the Russian human rights group Memorial.

Kadyrov, an ex-rebel turned Kremlin loyalist, is accused of torture and abductions by rights groups -- charges he has repeatedly denied.

CPJ says 19 journalists have been murdered for their work since 2000 in Russia, which it ranks as the fourth most dangerous country for reporters after Iraq, the Philippines and Algeria.

-- Reuters

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