Gennady Pavlyuk (Ibragim Rustambek)

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Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk, who used the penname Ibragim Rustambek, died in a hospital in Almaty, Kazakhstan, after falling from an upper-story window of an apartment building in the city six days earlier.

Pavlyuk, 40, described by colleagues as one of Kyrgyzstan's most prominent journalists, had traveled to Almaty on business, the purpose of which was not immediately clear. Some local news reports said Pavlyuk intended to start a pro-opposition online publication and had traveled to Almaty to meet with potential partners. Other reports said Pavlyuk was on a reporting trip to investigate a car-theft ring.

Pavlyuk, an ethnic Russian, had headed the Kyrgyz bureaus of the Russian newspapers Argumenty i Fakty and Komsomolskaya Pravda before becoming editor-in-chief of the independent Kyrgyz newspaper Bely Parokhod. The publication was known for its examination of high-level corruption and its critical coverage of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, said Marat Tokoyev, head of the Kyrgyz press freedom group, Public Association Journalists. In recent months, however, Pavlyuk had focused his efforts on the launch of his own publication, CPJ sources said.

Pavlyuk was found unconscious on the evening of December 16, sprawled on the overhang of an Almaty apartment building entrance, his hands and legs bound with tape, the Kazakhstan Interior Ministry said. It was not immediately clear why Pavlyuk had gone to the building or whom he had met there. A police search of a sixth-floor apartment found a roll of tape, Pavlyuk's jacket, a key for an Almaty hotel room that he had checked into earlier that day, and an empty laptop bag, the ministry said.

A security camera at the Almaty hotel captured images of Pavlyuk leaving with an unidentified man earlier that day, the Kyrgyz news agency AKIpress said. The windows in the apartment from which Pavlyuk apparently fell were not broken, AKIpress said. Pavlyuk suffered multiple injuries caused by the fall, according to doctors with Almaty's central city hospital. He died at around 6 a.m. on December 22, never having regained consciousness, the independent Kazakh newspaper Respublika reported. 

In November 2010, Kazakh prosecutors announced they had detained a former Kyrgyz security service agent Aldayar Ismankulov, whom they indicted on separate counts of abduction, extortion, and murder, the Russian service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Authorities also arrested two suspected accomplices, Kazakh nationals Almaz Igilikov and Shlakar Urazalin. Investigators did not name a mastermind.

On October 11, an Almaty court found the defendants guilty in Pavlyuk's murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms, regional and international press reported. Ismankulov was convicted in the killing and sentenced to 17 years in prison; Urazalin and Igilikov received 11 and 10 year prison terms respectively for their roles, the independent regional website Fergana News reported. The court found that Pavlyuk's journalism was the motive, but it did not specify the details or name a mastermind.

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