BBC News

Disgust over 'mock abduction' of Kyrgyz TV reporter

By Cholpon Bekbolotova
BBC Kyrgyz, Bishkek

image captionNazira Aytbekova and her family are outraged by her treatment

A prominent journalist in Kyrgyzstan is bringing criminal charges against newspaper reporters who abducted and threatened to kill her as a practical joke for their newspaper.

Nazira Aytbekova, who presents an entertainment programme on Kyrgyz state TV, told the BBC she was kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to wasteland.

She says she is still "shaken and humiliated" by the incident.

The two reporters have been sacked and have apologised for their actions.

The footage they shot was not published on the newspaper's website.

'We'll shoot you'

Ms Aytbekova said that her abductors blindfolded her on Tuesday near the capital Bishkek and forced her to strip to her underwear while holding a gun to her head.

image captionNazira Aytbekova is well known for her entertainment programmes

"They took off the sack from my head and said: 'Sing!' I refused. They told me to dance and somebody was standing behind me and constantly poked the gun at my head."

Ms Aytbekova says her ordeal got even worse when the men threatened to kill her.

"They said to me: 'OK, say your last words. And then we'll shoot you.'"

The men then produced a mobile telephone to record their victim's ordeal before revealing themselves as reporters for a populist newspaper which runs a practical jokes column.

The paper, called Super-Info, has apologised and its Vice President, Aisulu Alimbekova, told the BBC the reporters involved had been dismissed.

"Our editorial team would never condone such outrageous stunts, threatening and endangering someone's life," she said.

Ms Aytbekova's family say they cannot forgive the reporters and will press criminal charges.

The incident has caused outrage on social media in Kyrgyzstan, with many questioning how the reporters could have found their actions funny.

"Everybody jokes at the level of their intelligence," read one comment.

Super-Info is just one of a new brand of populist newspapers trying to grab a share in Krygyzstan's increasingly competitive media market.

Its "tamashator" practical jokes column is an example of the entertainment content which has taken root across media platforms.

There are similar shows on state and private TV channels. Ms Aytbekova's own show involves a group of spiritual mediums competing over the accuracy of their predictions.

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