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In Light of Photos, Kyrgyz Authorities Claim Detained Journalist Staged Her Own Bruises

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In Light of Photos, Kyrgyz Authorities Claim Detained Journalist Staged Her Own Bruises

Bolot Temirov shared photos of the bruises he says his wife, Makhabat Tajibek kyzy, sustained in a Kyrgyz detention center in April. Prison authorities say they were inflicted by cell-mates at her request.

In Light of Photos, Kyrgyz Authorities Claim Detained Journalist Staged Her Own Bruises
Credit: Facebook / Bolot Temirov

In April, investigative journalist Bolot Temirov alleged that his wife, fellow journalist Makhabat Tajibek kyzy, had been beaten in a pre-trial detention center in Kyrgyzstan. The state Penitentiary Service (INS) denied the allegation.

On May 12, Temirov shared photos on Facebook depicting bruising to Tajikbek kyyz’s arm and face with the comment, “We received photographs of Makhabat after the beating by a pre-trial detention center officer Akylbek Ryskulov on April 5.” 

On May 13, he wished her a happy birthday, writing, “Your courage and integrity are enviable! You inspire me and many others not to give up and move forward!”

Tajibek kyzy was among 11 journalists detained in Bishkek in January. The authorities, citing a “forensic linguistic examination” of Temirov Live and Ait Ait Dese content, claim the published materials contain “calls for mass unrest.” The authorities have not offered specific details.

At present, only Tajibek kyzy, Aktilek Kaparov, Aike Beyshekeeva, and Azamat Ishenbekov remain in detention while the remainder – Sapar Akunbekov, Akyl Orozbekov, Jumabek Turdaliev, Tynystan Asypbek, Zoodar Buzumov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, and Maksat Tazhibek uulu – have been released to house arrest. All of the detained journalists were either current or former employees of TemirovLive.

TemirovLive is an investigative media outlet that produces YouTube reports focused on corruption in Kyrgyzstan. In November 2022, Temirov was deported from Kyrgyzstan to Russia after Kyrgyz authorities declared his Kyrgyz passport invalid. The deportation was the culmination of pressure on Temirov that escalated throughout 2022, including a drugs bust in January 2022 that saw Temirov and a poet detained, then released with charges pending. They were acquitted in September of the drugs charge. 

Each phase of pressure on Temirov conveniently coincided with additional airing of reports on corruption, often involving high-level state officials and their relatives. Even after being deported from Kyrgyzstan, Temirov and his outlet continued reporting, with his wife Tajibek kyz serving as director until her arrest in January.

In April, the INS press secretary denied Temirov’s allegation that his wife had been beaten in the detention center, claiming instead that she had resisted the transfer of a fellow prisoner out of their shared cell. The press secretary suggested that the prisoners could have “hit the beds and walls, which is why marks were left on the body.” The INS official further noted in comments reported by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service that prison staff do not have the right to beat prisoners and that since there is video surveillance, staff cannot even take swings at prisoners. 

No video of the altercation has been produced. If it exists, it may clarify matters. 

After Temirov shared the photographs of Tajibek kyzy’s bruises, the INS issued another denial. RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported that according to the INS, Tajibek kyzy and other prisoners “began to call for protests and disobedience of other female prisoners” and “showed insubordination” when a decision was made to transfer a prisoner out of their cell. The INS went on to suggest that Tajibek kyzy’s injuries “were inflicted on her by her cellmates at her own request for the purpose of staging beatings and cruel treatment.”

Kyrgyzstan’s media environment is often discussed relative to that of other countries in Central Asia. In that light, Kyrgyzstan’s press is far more free and dynamic, but cases such as those pending against the TemirovLive staff demonstrate that even in Kyrgyzstan’s more dynamic media environment there are considerable risks and increasing pressure. 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted, “A degree of pluralism exists, as seen in the popularity of news sites such as, and, as well as the growth of investigative and data journalism. But these outlets are being harassed and, of late, their situation has become critical.”