UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called for the government of Kyrgyzstan to show greater respect for human rights and freedom of the press.
The United Nations chief is in Kyrgyzstan as part of a tour of the five former Soviet Central Asian states. He held talks with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, as well as the country's foreign minister and parliament speaker.
"Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, recent events have been troubling, including the past few days. I repeat: all human rights must be protected, including free speech and freedom of the media," Ban said in a speech to Kyrgyzstan's parliament.
The past few weeks have seen a local television channel taken off air after a police raid, an opposition newspaper shut down by the authorities and the seizure of computers at a video news web portal, allegedly for using pirated software.
Ban said he had raised the issue with Bakiyev, who did not speak to the media after their meeting.
"I also urged the president to orient his policies to promote the democratic achievements of Kyrgyzstan, including its free press," he said, recalling the days when the country was seen as a beacon of democracy in Central Asia.
The UN head praised Kyrgyzstan for its role in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, where international forces are operating under a UN mandate. A U.S. military transit center at Kyrgyzstan's Manas airbase is central to the International Security Assistance Force's Afghan operations.
The head of the UN will stay in Bishkek until Sunday morning, when he is to fly to Uzbekistan. He started his Central Asian tour in Turkmenistan on Friday.
BISHKEK, April 3 (RIA Novosti)