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Kazakh Reporter Attacked, Left for Dead in Astana, Watchdog Says

A Kazakh reporter was beaten and left for dead, his body covered with stones, near his house in a suburb of Astana, the country’s capital, a freedom of speech watchdog said.

Ularbek Baitailak, who wrote for newspapers Dat and Tortinshi Bilik and the Altyn Tamyr magazine, was hospitalized after yesterday’s attack, Adil Soz International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech in Almaty said in a statement on its website, citing a colleague of the reporter, Zangar Karimkhan.

Kazakhstan, the biggest energy producer in central Asia, was ranked 154th, alongside Libya and below Afghanistan and Iraq, among 179 countries in a 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. The authorities are cracking down on independent reporters and tightening control of the Internet to “maintain a facade of stability at all costs,” the Paris-based monitoring group said in a January report.

In April, Lukpan Akhmedyarov, a journalist with the Uralskaya Nedelya newspaper, survived a knife and gun attack. A court in the Kazakh city of Uralsk in July ordered Akhmedyarov and his newspaper to pay 5 million tenge ($33,347) in damages to a regional official for a story about the prevalence of nepotism in local government institutions, according to Adil Soz.

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