Independent TV channel suspended in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz police seized equipment in a raid on a local television channel, effectively taking it off the air.

Independent TV channel suspended in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz police seized equipment in a raid on a local television channel on Thursday, effectively taking it off the air in what the opposition said was an attack on press freedom in the former Soviet republic.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Kyrgyzstan later this week as part of a tour of Central Asia that will be watched closely for how strongly he pushes human rights issues.

The country is also home to a U.S. military air base and a vital hub for troops and supplies bound for the Afghanistan war.

A group of activists rallied outside the U.N. office in Bishkek on Thursday, urging Ban to focus on media freedom in his talks with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whom rights groups accuse of trying to silence independent media.

Stan TV, a web-based network that has been openly critical of Bakiyev, said police seized computers and other equipment in a raid on its main office in the capital Bishkek, effectively suspending its operations.

"This is a revenge for our reports about the opposition, for our reporting on what is really happening in this country," Kirill Stepanyuk, Stan TV's editor in chief, told Reuters.

Kyrgyz police said the raid had nothing to do with politics. "The investigation is done in accordance with Kyrgyz laws," said Almaz Mumzhurov, a senior Kyrgyz financial police official. "We have suspended their use of unlicensed software."

Rights groups say attacks on press freedom - and on journalists - are on the rise in Central Asia. Two journalists were killed in the region late last year.

Several independent media websites and radio stations have not been accessible in recent weeks.

"This is yet another step by Bakiyev's regime in its fight against truth and objectiveness," the opposition Ata-Meken party said in a statement after the Stan TV raid.

The opposition has been holding regular protests since last month, accusing Bakiyev of corruption and nepotism.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Nisan 2010, 23:40
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