(Washington, D.C./Prague--October 31, 2002) Thomas A. Dine, President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, today condemned the arrest of independent Kazakh journalist and human rights activist Sergei Duvanov.
Dine said: "the circumstances surrounding the detention of Mr. Duvanov by Kazakh authorities on highly dubious charges--just before he was to fly to the U.S. to tell American audiences about the deteriorating situation of the independent media in his country--are more than suspicious. This continuing harrassment of journalists in Kazakhstan does not bring credit to the Nazarbayev government." Dine added that "this is another harsh blow to media freedom in Kazakhstan."
Duvanov was detained in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on October 28, shortly before he was to board a flight to Washington for a round of speaking engagements about human rights abuses in his country. He was scheduled also to hold a press conference at the Washington offices of RFE/RL today, October 31. "We are deeply disappointed that he was prevented from coming. It is my hope Mr. Duvanov will be quickly released," Dine said.
Sergei Duvanov, a widely respected editor of the weekly bulletin of the International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Almaty, was taken into custody on alleged suspicion of attempting to rape a young girl under age. He has vehemently denied the charges as the latest in a persistent campaign of persecution conducted against him and other independent journalists in Kazakhstan by the Kazakh Committee on National Security (KNB) because of outspoken criticism of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and members of his government.
Duvanov was attacked and brutally beaten in Almaty by unknown assailants in late August 2002. Despite his injuries, he attended the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, Poland in early September. RFE/RL President Dine said Duvanov's planned trip to the United States was intended to continue efforts to focus international attention on the plight of independent journalists in Kazakhstan.