The body of Nazalov, a journalist for the independent Bishkek daily Kyrgyz Ruhu, was found early in the morning on the bank of an irrigation canal in Kara-Suu District near the southern region of Osh, according to local press reports.
Police in Kara-Suu District initially opened a criminal inquiry into the 26-year-old journalist’s death but closed it after they said autopsy reports showed Nazalov had drowned, local CPJ sources reported.
While Nazalov’s journalism had focused on cultural and social issues, his family and colleagues suspect that his death may have been related to his recent investigation of corrupt senior government officials in the Osh regional administration.
The Bishkek-based Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law reported that it took Nazalov’s father an entire month to obtain a copy of the autopsy report, which listed numerous wounds and injuries found on the journalist’s body and suggested they could have been inflicted prior to death.
The human rights group also noted that police never interviewed the last person to see Nazalov prior to his death, a friend who had left a wedding Nazalov attended the night before with the journalist and then abruptly moved to Bishkek.
Nazalov’s colleagues point out that a group of unidentified assailants had attacked and robbed Nazalov on the night of August 26 in the city of Osh, stealing sensitive documents about the Osh regional administration, as well as other personal belongings.
The Interior Ministry in the Osh Region opened an investigation into the case after local police in Kara-Suu District closed their inquiry, but no progress has been reported.