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Reporters Without Borders calls on to guarantee safe environment for media

International organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on authorities and opposition to guarantee a safe environment for media covering the post-electoral unrest in Kyrgyzstan. Statement of the organization says.

Several journalists have been attacked during major demonstrations and clashes in the wake of the parliamentary elections held on 4 October.

The demonstrations that erupted after the results were disputed and then nullified have created a dangerously violent climate for the country’s journalists.

RSF has registered at least seven incidents in the space of a few days, including a particularly serious one on the evening of 5 October, when Aibol Kozhomuratov, a reporter for Current Time TV felt a bullet pass within a few millimetres of his head.

«Journalists must not become scapegoats for this post-electoral unrest,» said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. «We join the appeal by the local media community calling on all parties — authorities and opposition groups — to guarantee the security of journalists covering these events.»

«The authorities must begin by opening investigations into each reported attack on a journalist. Every effort must be made to shed light on these attacks, especially the circumstances that led a member of the special forces to open fire in the direction of the journalist Aibol Kozhomuratov,» she added.

A second incident involving a member of the security forces occurred on the evening of October 5. A police officer confiscated the phone of Ruslan Kharizov, a reporter for the independent online news agency 24.kg, as he was providing live coverage of the clashes between protesters and security forces.

Journalists have also been attacked by protesters.

A journalist with Radio Azattyk was reporting live from a demonstration outside a government building in Bishkek, when unidentified persons threatened him and accused him of providing «bad coverage» of the event.

In another incident, a protester forcibly snatched the phone of a 24.kg news agency reporter as she was beginning to film a demonstration near the opera.