MOSCOW — A prominent opposition journalist in Kyrgyzstan, whose autocratic president has been courted by the United States as an ally for the war in Afghanistan, died on Tuesday after being thrown last week from a sixth-story window, his arms and legs bound with duct tape.
The journalist, Gennadi Pavlyuk, was on a business trip in Almaty, the commercial capital of neighboring Kazakhstan, when he was attacked on Dec. 16, the authorities said. He was in a coma before dying of severe trauma on Tuesday. His colleagues said he was 40 years old, with a wife and son.
Opposition politicians in Kyrgyzstan blamed the Kyrgyz president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, for the killing, saying that he was escalating his efforts to eliminate dissent in the country. Mr. Bakiyev’s spokesman said the government had nothing to do with the attack on Mr. Pavlyuk.
Since taking power in 2005, Mr. Bakiyev has steadily tightened his grip on Kyrgyzstan, a poor former Soviet republic in the mountains of Central Asia, and in recent years, numerous opposition leaders and journalists have been attacked. Some have died, and rarely if ever has anyone been held accountable.
In just the last few weeks, a well-known political scientist, a former senior official and a journalist were severely beaten in Kyrgyzstan. They all attributed the attacks to the security services, according to local news media.
While human rights groups have assailed Mr. Bakiyev, the United States has largely focused on maintaining good relations with him in order to keep an important air base on the outskirts of Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, that supports NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Bakiyev announced in February that he would evict the United States from the base. After intensive lobbying by the Obama administration, he reversed course in June, in return for additional rent and other concessions.In July, Mr. Bakiyev easily won another term as president in an election that international monitors said was marred by widespread fraud
Investigators in Kazakhstan said Mr. Pavlyuk arrived in Almaty on Dec. 16 and checked into a hotel before leaving with an unidentified man. Two hours later, he was pushed out the sixth-floor window of a rented apartment in a residential building, landing on a first-floor canopy.
A roll of the duct tape that had been used to bind his hands and legs was found in the apartment.
Mr. Pavlyuk was the former chief editor of the Bishkek edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda, a major Russian tabloid newspaper based in Moscow.
Over the last year, he had become more politically active, working closely with Omurbek Tekebaev, a former speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament who is a senior opposition leader.
To support Mr. Tekebaev’s party, Mr. Pavlyuk was planning a new opposition Web site.
Mr. Tekebaev said in a telephone interview that he had no doubt that the Kyrgyz government had ordered Mr. Pavlyuk killed because he had become more outspoken against the president. Mr. Tekebaev said the Kyrgyz security services often lured people to nearby countries and killed them.
“They do that to avoid suspicion. They do their activities outside of Kyrgyzstan,” Mr. Tekebaev said. “This is not the first time that this has happened abroad to a member of the opposition. We believe that this was a political killing directed at intimidating the news media. It is an attempt at frightening society.”
Almaz Turdumamatov, Mr. Bakiyev’s spokesman, said he hoped that the police in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan would conduct a thorough inquiry and bring the culprits to justice.
“The murder of any person, whether a journalist or not, concerns us,” Mr. Turdumamatov said. “Who is responsible for this must be determined by the investigators.”
Asked about the opposition’s allegations that its supporters were being persecuted, he said: “It is unfortunate that this killing happened. But it is wrong to say that this was connected to any kind of political motivation.”
In an interview in July at the presidential residence, Mr. Bakiyev suggested that journalists who had been attacked might have been involved in shady dealings or were perhaps just unlucky.
“Sometimes, things happen by chance,” Mr. Bakiyev said. “For it to have been purposeful from a political point of view, that sort of politics doesn’t exist here.”
Daniil Kislov, chief editor of Ferghana.ru, a Web site based in Moscow that covers Central Asia, said Mr. Pavlyuk’s killing had shocked journalists in the region because it was so brazen, as if it were an organized crime hit.
Mr. Kislov said the killing reminded him of the slaying of another Kyrgyz journalist, Alisher Saipov, who contributed to Ferghana.ru and the Voice of America. Mr. Saipov was shot to death in 2007 while waiting for a taxi in a Kyrgyz city. No one has been arrested in the case.
“These killings are being done by people who are absolutely convinced that they will never be caught and never be punished,” Mr. Kislov said.
Mr. Pavlyuk was chief editor for Komsomolskaya Pravda in Bishkek in 2006 and 2007, said the newspaper’s current chief editor, Aleksandr Rogoza.
Mr. Rogoza said Mr. Pavlyuk had a lifelong affection for Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, which is famous for its beauty and is one of the largest mountain lakes in the world.
“He wrote a lot about the lake,” Mr. Rogoza said. “He built a house there, and he spent a lot of time there. He just loved that place.”
_____________________________________________My comments on: Bakyt Beshimov accuses President Bakiev in assassination attempt. http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/93343/interview-with-bakyt-beshimov-leader-of-the-social-democratic-political-fraction-kyrgyzstan.html