Prominent TV producer and Kyrgyz Service journalist Bubukan Dosalieva died on July 5 at a private hospital in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital, from severe complications related to pneumonia. She was 61.
Despite the official diagnosis, several leading medical specialists told the Service that Dosalieva had symptoms indicative of COVID-19.
Hers is the first death of an RFE/RL employee attributable to the Coronavirus. Because of the public health threat, the Service closed its doors and sent its journalists home in June.
In a letter addressed to the Service, U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu paid tribute to Dosalieva, expressing "shock at the news about the loss of a gifted journalist, a dedicated worker, teacher, and political analyst." Lu wrote, "Bubukan Dosalieva served the interests of the Kyrgyz people over many years; her contribution to delivering truthful information helped Kyrgyzstan remain an independent and democratic state... Thanks to people like Bubukan, Radio Azattyk became and remains a pillar of independent journalism in the Kyrgyz media market."
Dosalieva worked for the Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, from 1995 to 2010. She was one of the first producers and presenters of several of the Service’s pioneering TV programs, including the talk show Inconvenient Questions, and the youth show Azattyk+. She left the Service to work for then-Kyrygz President Roza Otunbaeva, and was an executive secretary for the state awards department.
She returned to Radio Azattyk in 2017, telling colleagues, “it was her life, the meaning of her life.” She first worked first in a freelance capacity and then as a production manager. She moderated segments of the Service’s live morning show as recently as June.
Dosalieva was known for her distinctive voice and her presentation style. Viewers told Azattyk that "nobody can moderate roundtable discussions as professionally as Bubukan."
Before joining the Kyrgyz Service, Dosaliev taught journalism at Kyrgyz State University and the Bishkek Humanitarian University. She also worked at the country’s KTRK and other TV channels.
She is survived by her husband, four children, and seven grandchildren.