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Kazakh Opposition Journalist Reported Beaten - 2004-02-03

A Kazakh opposition newspaper says police have detained and beaten one of its employees after she turned down a request to inform authorities about the newspaper's activities.

Assandi-Times newspaper issued a statement, saying the interrogation of Svetlana Rychkova was part of a carefully orchestrated action aimed to intimidate journalists and silence the daily.

The newspaper says the incident happened Friday in the town of Talgar, some 40 kilometers north of commercial capital, Almaty.

Kazakhstan experienced limited democratic reforms after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in recent years, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has become increasingly authoritarian.

A number of international organizations have criticized his government for cracking down on opposition figures and journalists critical of his administration.