Kyrgyz reporter dies after alleged police beating
An independent journalist who had criticized Kyrgyzstan's government has died following surgery for injuries he said he suffered during a beating by police, relatives and colleagues said Monday, Associated Press reported.
Almaz Tashiyev's death reinforced concerns about the risks faced by independent journalists in the Central Asian nation. It came after a series of attacks on reporters and shortly before next week's presidential election.
The Interior Ministry said Tashiyev died of complications from head injuries shortly after surgery on Friday.
Relatives who attended Tashiyev's funeral on Monday said he told them before the operation that he was beaten by eight police officers days earlier in the southern town of Nookat.
Interior Ministry spokesman Bakyt Seitov said prosecutors were investigating the alleged attack and that any police officer found to have been involved "will be severely punished."
Tashiyev, 32, was a social affairs reporter whose articles in the newspaper Agym often criticized the government's performance. Electricity shortages and rampant unemployment are causing widespread discontent in the former Soviet republic.
Critics of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev say the government has tried to stifle opposition ahead of the July 23 election during which he is widely expected to win a second term.
Conditions have deteriorated for the media in Kyrgyzstan over the past three years, with journalists routinely facing prosecution and the adoption in 2008 of repressive new media legislation, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report earlier this year.
Bakiyev came to power after street protesters ousted his predecessor in 2005.