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Protesters, police forcibly prevent journalists from covering demonstration; one journalist struck by police

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - On 16 May 2007, "Talas turmushu" newspaper editor Kozubek Imankulov, photojournalist Berdibek Sultanmuratov and a journalist for the National TV/Radio Corporation, Salamat Nazarkulov, were rudely prevented from carrying out their professional activities during a demonstration in Aksai village, southern Kyrgyzstan.

The protesters, who demanded that the gold mine Zherui Andash be shut down, used force to stop the journalists from covering the demonstration. The journalists claimed that police officers joined the protesters in preventing them from doing their job, instead of protecting them.

"The head of the Talas Interior Public Order Department, a police colonel, struck me in the chest, saying that we had instigated mass disorder and disappointed the people," Imankulov said.

On 14 May, another media representative, Mashakbai Rakhmankulov, who chairs the Talas regional RV/Radio company, was similarly pressured while attempting to cover a demonstration.

On 18 and 19 May, all four journalists, Imankulov, Rakhmankulov, Sultanmuratov and Nazarkulov, reported the violations to the Talas Interior Department. In their report, the journalists demanded that the violators be held accountable for insulting their honor and dignity and preventing them from carrying out their professional activities.

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