Kyrgyz TV Station Director Detained Over Report On Ukraine War Faces Additional Charge

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BISHKEK -- The director of the NEXT television channel in Kyrgyzstan, who is currently under arrest over the airing of a controversial report in which an interviewee alleged the existence of an agreement between Bishkek and Moscow to send troops to assist Russian armed forces in the war against Ukraine, now faces an additional charge.

Taalaibek Duishembiev's lawyer, Timur Sultanov, said on June 29 that his client faces another charge of inciting ethnic hatred over an unspecified report posted on Instagram in early March.

A day earlier, a court in Bishkek extended Duishembiev's pretrial detention until at least August 3.

Duishembiev was arrested and charged with inciting interethnic hatred in early March.

The initial charge stemmed from a report by the channel that quoted the exiled former chief of the Committee for National Security of neighboring Kazakhstan, Alnur Musaev, as saying that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan had agreed to support Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by sending troops to help Russia.

NEXT officials have insisted the report was balanced as it quoted Musaev directly while giving other people's views on the issue as well.

There has been no evidence of Tajik or Kyrgyz troops fighting in Ukraine since the invasion was launched on February 24.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has rejected the report and called on local media outlets to base their reporting on the ongoing war in Ukraine solely on official government statements.

Domestic and international human rights organizations have demanded Duishembiev's release, saying that his arrest violates freedom of expression.

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