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Abril 18, 2007

Critical journalist disappears in Almaty after receiving death threats

17 April 2007

Critical journalist disappears in Almaty after receiving death threats;
colleagues and family suspect foul play

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - Adil Soz has expressed its alarm over the disappearance
of Oralgaisha Zhabaktaikyzy, a journalist with "Zakon I pravosudie"
newspaper.

The journalist was last seen getting into a sport utility vehicle on 30
March 2007 by a friend.

According to another "Zakon I pravosudie" reporter in Almaty, Mukhit
Iskakov, the journalist began receiving telephoned threats shortly after
the publication of her 26 March report, entitled "Bloody chaos, or who
backs the brothers Makhnovsty". In her report, the journalist investigated
and analyzed the circumstances that led to a bloody conflict among local
residents in Malovodnoye village, in southern Kazakhstan, revealing the
names of those who started the conflict and their connections with the
government and business. Iskakov said that the journalist bought a rifle
after receiving a number of death threats demanding that she stop her
critical reporting.


However, Zhabaktaikyzy's brother believes that threats against the
journalist began long before the publication of that report, while she was
working on another article in February 2007 about mines in Zhezkazgan,
owned by the Kazakhmys company. In that article, she had reported on
dangerous working conditions in the mines.


Zhabaktaikyzy's colleagues believe that the threats and her disappearance
are related to her professional activities.


Her brother has reported her missing to police. Zhetysu District Interior
Department, the City Interior Department of Almaty and the Ministry of
Internal Affairs have initiated an investigation into her case. Her
whereabouts are still not known.


Adil Soz has sent two statements to the Interior Ministry and the Office of
the Prosecutor General, reporting the case and calling on them to monitor
the investigation into the journalist's case.


The newspaper's management has not commented on the case.


For further information, contact Adil Soz, Zhambyl Street, 25, Office 706,
Almaty, 480100, Republic of Kazakhstan, tel/fax: +7 3272 911 670, e-mail:
info@adilsoz.kz, kaleyeva@adilsoz.kz, steblyuk@adilsoz.kz, Internet:
http://www.adilsoz.kz

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