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Detained Kyrgyz Journalist Alleges Abuse by Guards

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Detained Kyrgyz Journalist Alleges Abuse by Guards

Ombudsman representatives confirmed Makhabat Tajibek kyzy was bruised from an apparent beating, but detention center staff would not allow them to document it. 

Detained Kyrgyz Journalist Alleges Abuse by Guards
Credit: Depositphotos

On April 6, investigative journalist Bolot Temirov claimed in a Telegram post that his wife, Makhabat Tajibek kyzy, had been beaten alongside other detainees by prison guards in Kyrgyzstan.

Prison authorities offered a weak denial, stating that pre-trial detention employees do not have the right to beat prisoners.

The Kyrgyz Ombudsman Institute visited the pre-trial detention center where Tajibek kyzy is being held and confirmed that she had bruises on her arms, the left side of her jaw, and her left armpit. Staff at the detention center did not allow the ombudsman representatives to take photographs of the bruises. 

Representatives of Kyrgyzstan’s National Center for the Prevention of Torture also visited the detention center and filed complaints on behalf of the women.

Temirov connected his wife’s alleged beating with his investigative work. “I consider it a warning sent to me through the beating of my wife in custody,” he said, citing recent work on the family of President Sadyr Japarov and fact-checking of a claim by State Committee for National Security head Kamchybek Tashiev that Kyrgyzstan had recovered 100 billion som in its fight against corruption (Temirov says only 500,000 som has been returned to the Kyrgyz state).

Temirov has had a long antagonistic relationship with the current Kyrgyz government given his sharp coverage of corruption issues. The battle between Bishkek and Temirov resulted in his deportation to Russia in November 2022, with the authorities claiming he’d illegally obtained Kyrgyz citizenship.

Tajibek kyzy, Temirov’s wife and the director of Temirov Live and the Ait Ait Dese project, was detained during a January 16 sweep that targeted a number of journalists, many with connections to Temirov. 

Ultimately, 11 journalists were detained in Bishkek, with the authorities citing alleged “calls for mass unrest.” Two of those initially detained were released to house arrest in mid-March –  journalist Sapar Akunbekov and camera operator Akyl Orozbekov – while another, Jumabek Turdaliev, a former project manager, was released with a travel ban.

On April 9, four more detained journalists were released to house arrest – Tynystan Asypbek, Zoodar Buzumov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, and Maksat Tazhibek uulu.

In addition to Tajibek kyzy, Aktilek Kaparov, Aike Beyshekeeva, and Azamat Ishenbekov remain in detention.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reissued its call for Kyrgyz authorities to drop the charges against the journalists. 

Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said in a statement, “While the release of another four journalists associated with Temirov Live is a step in the right direction, Kyrgyzstan continues to grossly flout its international free speech obligations by charging 11 journalists, four of whom are still being held, in retaliation for their reporting on official corruption.”

In a related development, in early April the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (SCNS) reportedly suspended its criminal case against, an outlet whose offices had been raided and sealed on January 15. At the time, the authorities alleged vague “war propaganda” charges against the outlet, which has subsequently changed hands

In March, senior editor Makhinur Niyazova announced she was quitting, writing in a Facebook post, “I don’t want my name to even be mentioned next to that of the people into whose hands the news agency has passed.”’s founder Asel Otorbayeva posted her own statement denying that the outlet had been taken over and saying that the change in ownership was long-planned and not political.