Military Police Torture Journalists in Zimbabwe

January 23, 1999

His Excellency Boris Yeltsin
President of the Russian Federation

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply troubled by the criminal prosecution of Altaf Galeyev for practicing his profession of journalism. His trial is scheduled to begin on February 4, 1999. Galeyev was formerly the news director of Radio Titan, the only independent radio station in the Republic of Bashkortostan, which was the target of persistent attacks by the strong-arm regime of Bashkir President President Murtaza Rakhimov, until its violent shutdown on May 27, 1998. Galeyev has been awaiting trial in a pre-trial detention center in Ufa since his arrest on that date.

On May 27, police raided the offices of Radio Titan, beating and rounding up staff members and supporters. Employees and listeners had been keeping a round-the-clock vigil around the station’s building, in anticipation of official reprisals after Radio Titan aired interviews with three opposition candidates who were barred from the June 14, 1998 presidential elections. Police seized the radio’s equipment and detained the whole staff, including Galeyev and Lilia Ismagilova, its executive director. Although Ismagilova and the others were released the next day, Galeyev was held for firing several shots in the air with a handgun when police stormed the radio’s offices. On June 4, Galeyev was charged with “hooliganism” and “illegal use of firearms” under article 213(3) and “defamation” under article 319 of the Bashkir penal code. If convicted, he faces four to seven years imprisonment.

We believe that the charges against Galeyev stem from Radio Titan’s rebroadcasting of Radio Liberty and Voice of America programs, his radio interview with three opposition candidates, as well as a May 25 broadcast that quoted from several articles in Moscow newspapers revealing allegedly corrupt practices of President Rakhimov’s regime, his total control over the local oil industry, and his tight grip on the media.

As a non-partisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists around the world, CPJ strongly protests the arrest and criminal prosecution of Altaf Galeyev for practicing his profession. This case clearly violates his right “to impart information and ideas through any media” as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

CPJ urges you to investigate the charges against Altaf Galeyev and to ensure that his rights are protected.

Thank you for your attention. We await your comments.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director

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