Ulugbek Abdusalomov

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Authorities in the southern Jalal-Abad region arrested Abdusalomov, editor of the independent weekly Diydor, following interethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to CPJ sources and press reports, men in camouflage-style uniforms, driving a black SUV without license plates, blocked Abdusalomov’s car on a Jalal-Abad street. Subsequent press reports said he was being held by Jalal-Abad regional police.

On June 23, the press office of the central Kyrgyz government said in a statement that Abdusalomov was being held in connection with May 12-15 protests by ethnic Uzbeks in the city of Jalal-Abad. Uzbek residents rallied against the possible return to office of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Overthrown in April following mass protests, Bakiyev had found temporary refuge in Jalal-Abad before ultimately fleeing to Belarus, according to local press reports. The May rallies sparked a violent retaliation by ethnic Kyrgyz residents, who largely supported Bakiyev.

In August, regional prosecutors indicted Abdusalomov on charges of organizing and participating in mass disorder and making calls for separatism in connection with the protests. A charge of inciting ethnic hatred stemmed from an article published in Diydor that quoted local residents complaining about inequities in southern Kyrgyzstan. The indictment came as the editor was in police custody at a regional hospital undergoing treatment for a heart condition, the independent regional news website Ferghana reported.

Official records cast doubt on the allegations. At the time of the protests, Abdusalomov was in Bishkek working on the text of the new Kyrgyz Constitution as a member of a government committee, official transcripts show. In September, CPJ urged President Roza Otunbayeva to intervene in the politicized prosecution.

The London-based Writers in Prison Committee said that while Abdusalomov was hospitalized in September he suffered a stroke that affected one side of his body and his speech. He was put under house arrest late that month. Trial proceedings, originally scheduled for September, were postponed because of Abdusalomov’s health problems, local press reports said. Defense lawyer Bektursun Kalmanov told CPJ that Abdusalomov remained under house arrest in late year.