Kazakh Police Reject Reports Opposition Publisher Was Abducted

ALMATY -- Almaty city police have rejected reports that the head of an opposition publishing house has been abducted, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Oksana Makushina, an editor at the Almaty-based opposition newspaper "Golos republiki," said in Almaty on March 31 that ADP publishing house Director Daniyar Moldashev has been missing for several days and she fears he was abducted.

She said he told a colleague he was beaten and robbed by unknown assailants on March 25 on his way home from the Almaty airport after arriving on a flight from Moscow. He then vanished and has not been seen since.

The Almaty police's press service said on March 31 that Moldashev was neither robbed nor abducted.

In a statement, police said Moldashev visited a health clinic by himself on March 27 seeking to have some unspecified injuries treated. But police said he refused to cooperate with police regarding his wounds.

The police statement adds that Moldashev formally asked the chief of Almaty's Bostandyq District police and the local prosecutor to not launch an investigation into the attack against him.

Police also stated that Moldashev's wife and brother told investigators that they have no information regarding him being beaten and robbed. Police also said that Moldashev's relatives told law-enforcement officials that he left for Kyiv on March 30 for personal business and they have been in telephone contact with him.

But RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports that neither Moldashev's wife nor his brother has been available to comment on the police statement.

Meanwhile, colleagues said Moldashev -- whose publishing house prints the opposition newspapers "Respublika" (The Republic) and "Golos respubliki" (The Voice of the Republic) -- went missing after he was attacked and robbed on his way home from the Almaty airport on March 25.

Moldashev was returning from Moscow where he had met with "Respublika" editors. The attackers allegedly took his camera and some documents related to his work with "Respublika."

Makushina told journalists in Almaty on March 31 that Moldashev made a brief call to his deputy, Gyuzel Baidalinova, at about 8:30 pm on March 30 and told her that he was in Minsk.

"The phone call was very strange since he never planned to go to Belarus; also the number of the phone he used did not appear on his deputy's mobile phone," Makushina said.

She added that none of Moldashev's mobile phones has answered calls since he disappeared.

"Respublika" had to move its headquarters to Moscow from Almaty several years ago after Kazakh authorities imposed restrictions on the newspaper.

"Golos respubliki" had to suspend its operations due to pressure being imposed by local authorities several times, and some of its reporters have been attacked and beaten in the past.


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