Two opposition newspapers attacked

New York, May 22, 2002—This morning assailants threw Molotov cocktails into the office windows of Delovoye Obozreniye Respublika, an opposition newspaper based in the city of Almaty in southern Kazakhstan. In a separate incident, two employees of another opposition paper were attacked yesterday.

According to international reports and CPJ sources in Kazakhstan, no one was injured in today’s attack, but the resulting fire destroyed much of the office, including the publication’s technical equipment.

Local police are investigating the incident.

This is the latest in a series of attacks on Delovoye Obozreniye Respublika. On March 8, Irina Petrushova, the paper’s founder and editor-in-chief, received a funeral wreath. And on May 19, according to international reports and journalists in Almaty, the newspaper’s staff found a decapitated dog’s corpse hanging from an office window with an attached note that read, “There won’t be a next time.” The following day, Petrushova found the dog’s head in the building’s yard.

On May 21, Bakhytgul Makinbai, a correspondent with the Almaty opposition newspaper SolDat, and Kenzhe Aitpakiyev, a staff member, were assaulted by four assailants who broke into the paper’s offices. According to the two victims, the assailants beat them, stole expensive technical equipment, and threatened further attacks if the newspaper continued publishing.

Local police are investigating the assault.

Journalists at the newspapers, which are both known for their critical coverage of the Kazakh government, believe these attacks were politically motivated.

“By failing to investigate attacks against journalists effectively and prosecute those responsible, Kazakh authorities are creating an environment in which journalists are increasingly vulnerable to violence and intimidation,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.