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Joint statement

May 23, 2002

The public and journalist community of the republic is shocked by growing storm of criminal encroachments upon independent mass media and journalists. So, during the night March 29, 2002 unknown individuals fired at transmitting cable (feeder) of the television company “TAN”. As a result the cable was broken, and it took more than a month to restore the mutilated technical equipment. On May 15 strangers damaged the feeder once again, by piercing it through by steel needle and short-circuiting contacts, and then they soldered up the braid in order to hide traits of the damage. On May 3 publishing house of the LRP “Ak Zhayik” in Atyrau was set on fire at 4.30.

Strangers, have broken windows of the building and threw Molotov cocktails into the premises. New expensive equipment was disabled as result of the arson, the building received substantial damage, stocks of paper and other materials were also damaged. Around 11 am on May 19 employees of the editorial office of the newspaper “Delovoye Obozreniye Respublika” found decapitated dog, which was hanging from the office window, with the note “There won’t be a next time“. The dog’s head with analogous note was found in the yard of the house of the chief-editor of the newspaper Irina Petrushova. Prior to this, on March 20, funeral wreaths were delivered to the office of the same newspaper and to the house of Petrushova with the words: “To dear Irina Albertovna from her colleagues”. As usually, authors of this “joke” were not found. Molotov cocktails were thrown into the office of the editorial newspaper “DO Republika” from both sides of the building on the night of May 22. Office equipment was obliterated, premises were burned down, and there is no office any longer. On May 21 editorial office of opposition newspaper “SolDat” was attacked, whose office located in privately rented apartment. The journalist Bakhytgul Makinbai and technical editor Kenzhe Aitpakiyev were assaulted. Criminals threatened further attacks if the newspaper continued publishing. Chief-editor of “SolDat” Yermurat Bapi reports that the assailants took away equipment with the total cost of 19 thousand dollars, as a result publishing of the newspaper might suspend for at least one month. Such actions became the result of the authorities’ weakness to present these publications reasoned claims in legal order. Throughout several months the authorities continue endless court persecutions against them in criminal, civil and administrative order. Individuals guilty of any of these crimes were not found. The authorities never expressed its attitude towards bandit attacks on independent mass media. Thus, the impression of total indifference of higher state officials to democracy destinies was created. So, crime as a method of struggle with opponents may become everyday constituent part of the public life of the country. We urge all civil, political and state institutions of Kazakhstan to take all necessary steps towards immediate stopping of criminal actions in relation to independent mass media and journalists. We encourage all international public organizations to support struggle of Kazakhstan’s journalists for free press.

Tamara Kaleyeva, president of the International Foundation for protection of freedom of speech “Adil Soz”

Oleg Katsiyev, director of the Representative office of Internews Network in Kazakhstan

Seitkazy Matayev, Chairman of the Board of the Union of Journalists of Kazakhstan

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