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RFE President Gedmin Meets Kyrgyz Leader, Visits Area Of Recent Ethnic Violence

Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva meets with RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin (Bishkek, 06Sep2010)
(BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan) During a three-day trip to Kyrgyzstan, RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin met President Roza Otunbaeva, parliamentary candidates, journalists, and students to discuss media freedom and the recent ethnic violence in the southern city of Osh.

In Osh, Gedmin met with local leaders and citizens affected by the bloodshed in June between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks.

"The peace in southern Kyrgyzstan is fragile," he said. "With crucial elections just a month away, and ethnic tensions far from being resolved, RFE’s Kyrgyz Service, Radio Azattyk, plays a crucial role as a trusted source of reliable news and information."

In the capital, Bishkek, President Otunbaeva told Gedmin that Radio Azattyk is the country’s "leading source of accurate, credible information." She praised the station for providing a platform for different points of view and honest political debate.

Gedmin and the Kyrgyz leader discussed the ethnic unrest and media environment ahead of the upcoming national elections - the first since Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed in April.

During a question and answer session with students at Kyrgyzstan’s National University, the loudest applause came when a student asked Gedmin about internship opportunities at RFE.

"Kyrgyz students showed a keen interest in engaging the outside world," said Gedmin. "If Kyrgyzstan is to overcome the polarizing and deadly ethnic strife plaguing the country, young people must lead the way."

About RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service
Online and on the air, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, has been a consistent and dependable provider of independent information in Kyrgyzstan for more than 50 years. Today, Radio Azattyk is a trusted source within Kyrgyzstan, with its stories - both broadcast and online - regularly cited and reprinted by local and regional media.

--"Bishkek Blunder" - RFE's Gregory Feifer looks at Kyrgyzstan's still-fragile democracy in The New Republic.

--"Kyrgyzstan on the Brink" - RFE's James Kirchick in The Weekly Standard surveys the ethnic tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. See also Kirchick's narrated photo essay from his recent travels in the region.