Independent journalist stabbed in Bishkek

New York, March 3, 2009–An unidentified attacker stabbed a reporter outside his newsroom in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, today, according to the regional news site Ferghana.

Syrgak Abdyldayev, a political reporter and commentator with the independent newspaper Reporter-Bishkek, was attacked at around 7 p.m., Ferghana reported. Abdyldayev, 47, is currently hospitalized with 12 stab wounds and a broken arm, Reporter-Bishkek founder Sultan Kanazarov told CPJ. In his recent articles, Abdyldayev criticized the Kyrgyz government’s poor economic policies and covered President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s decision to close a U.S. airbase in the country. Kanazarov said he believes the reporter was attacked because of his work, but that he had not received any threats previously.

“We condemn this vicious attack on Syrgak Abdyldayev and call on Kyrgyz authorities to investigate it thoroughly and effectively,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “Kyrgyzstan must not allow impunity in attacks on reporters to chill the media.”

According to Ferghana, at least one unidentified attacker was waiting for Abdyldayev in a car outside the newspaper’s premises; as the journalist was leaving his office for the day, the assailant approached him, broke his arm, and stabbed him multiple times. Kanazarov told CPJ that his colleague was taken to the emergency room, where he remains in a serious condition.

Kanazarov said that none of Abdyldayev’s belongings, including his wallet and cell phone, were taken. Bishkek police have not yet opened a criminal investigation, he said, because doctors have not allowed the police to speak with the journalist.