As long prison terms were handed down in Almaty on October 11 to those convicted of the murder of Kyrgyzstani journalist Gennadiy Pavlyuk in 2009, vital questions about the case linger. Was justice done for the reporter who was brutally defenestrated?
Aldayar Ismankulov (a Kyrgyz citizen and former member of Kyrgyzstan’s security services) was sentenced to 17 years in prison. His accomplices Shalkar Orazalin and Almas Igelikov (both Kazakh citizens) received 11 and 10 years respectively.
It’s not often that those guilty of perpetrating violence against journalists in Central Asia are taken to court at all, so the first reaction to the sentencing might be applause.
But wait a minute. Despite loudly voiced misgivings that the death of Pavlyuk – an investigative reporter who wrote under the pseudonym Ibragim Rustambek – was linked to Kyrgyz politics, the court appears to have swallowed the version propounded by Kazakh investigators earlier this year that this was a robbery gone wrong.
According to that theory, the thieves lured Pavlyuk 200 kilometers from Bishkek to Almaty purely to rob him. When they failed to extract satisfactory valuables from the reporter, they became so enraged that they bound his hands and feet and hurled him to his death from the sixth floor of an apartment building.
Pavlyuk’s associates have long pointed to the flaws in that theory – namely that the reporter was not a rich man and that defenestration seems something of an overreaction to the circumstances.
The political link to the case is persistent: Before his death Pavlyuk had announced plans to launch a media project with Kyrgyzstan’s Ata-Meken party, then in opposition to President Kurmanbek Bakiyev (who was ousted several months later).
Just last week members of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voiced suspicions about Pavlyuk’s slaying, with Deputy Speaker Asiya Sasykbayeva expressing the view that the killing was “closely linked” to another suspicious death.