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RFE/RL Turkmen Correspondent Attacked For Second Time

RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent Soltan Achilova, showing bruises suffered during a late-October attack in Ashgabat.

A correspondent for RFE/RL's Turkmen service has been attacked for a second time within a month following an assault that rights activists say was aimed at attempting to silence her reporting.

The 67-year-old correspondent, Soltan Achilova, was being treated at a health center in Ashgabat on November 8 when she was approached by two women screaming that her photographic work was meant to "pour dirt on Turkmenistan."

Earlier that evening, in an attack Achilova believes was meant for her, an elderly woman at the same Archman resort facility northeast of Ashgabat was knocked to the floor by two unknown women who beat her and shouted "This is for your taking pictures."

Achilova’s mobile phone has not worked and she’s had no internet connection since the November 8 attack.

A day earlier, Human Rights Watch issued a statement protesting an October 25 assault on Achilova after she was stopped by police for taking photographs of long lines of customers outside a state-owned store in Ashgabat.

Human Rights said "Achilova’s ordeal was clearly yet another orchestrated attempt to silence a critic" of the government.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said in a November 14 statement there is "every indication that these are deliberate attempts to punish our correspondent for doing her job in Turkmenistan."

Kent said such attacks "violate Turkmenistan's international obligations and its own constitutional commitments to respect independent media" and should be "immediately condemned by the government and stopped."