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Editor-in-chief and correspondent of Russian newspaper assaulted

(PAJ/IFEX) - The following is a statement by Public Association "Journalists" (PAJ), an interim member of IFEX:

Ulugbek Babakulov and Elena Ageyeva, the editor-in-chief and a correspondent for the Russian newspaper "Moskovskiy comsomolets" respectively, were beaten and mugged by unknown persons after midnight on 26 March 2009 in Bishkek. The assailants took a cell phone, 200 soms (approx. US$4) and a black leather coat.

Babakulov, who received a minor head trauma, remains in hospital. Ageyeva continues to receive treatment at her home.

Bakhyt Seitovv, chief of the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Press Service, said that the incident was not connected with the journalists' profession. A case into the attack was opened under article 167 of the Kyrgyz Republic Criminal Code, referring to "Robbery". The investigation is being carried out by police officers of the Octyabr District Department of Internal Affairs, in Bishkek.

This was the third such attack on a media worker in March.

On 3 March, Syrgak Abdyldayev, a correspondent for the "Reporter-Bishkek" newspaper, was severely beaten and received 21 knife wounds.

On 7 March, a senior operator for the "Osh TV" channel, Bakhadir Kenzhebayev, was beaten.

PAJ registered 19 cases of attacks on journalists in 2007 and 5 in 2008. Since the beginning of 2009 already 4 cases of attacks on journalists have been registered.

According to PAJ Chairman Marat Tokoyev, attacks and beatings of journalists in Kyrgyzstan have become more frequent. He is concerned that the attack on Babakulov and Ageyeva may be linked to their professional work. The PAJ is determined to put an end to the impunity surrounding crimes against journalists in Kyrgyzstan.

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