Alisher Saipov - the pride of the people
His life was brief but blazing. He was a genuine journalist, a man ever in search of information, a man capable of understanding everyone from Islamists to technocrats. What really counts, however, is that he was a true patriot of his people. His outstanding personality combined an astute mind, creativity, tenacity rare even in journalists, and an amazing degree of tact and high moral standards.
The newspaper Siesat was his brainchild. I remember how we sat in his office last winter and discussed editorial policy of what we hoped would become the most popular media outlet in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan. We did it.
I was with him when his daughter Zuleiho was born barely two months ago. He doted on her. He was telling me just yesterday how he had given Zuleiho her first taste of apple puree and what smacking noise she had made.
Alisher knew of the danger to his life. He always joked whenever advised to take care, though. Several strangers appeared near his office several days ago and actually approached Alisher with some casual question or other. They were from Uzbekistan. The same people turned up again, a day before he was murdered. We were suspicious - but not enough to take precautions.
He had been tailed and knew it. He was murdered late at night. His murderers had known he always worked late. They shot him in the street.
I have only one conjecture concerning murderers' identity. Uzbek secret services alone wanted him out of the picture - permanently. He posed a threat to them. Siesat was gaining popularity and even making it into Uzbekistan. A source in Andijan informed Alisher that a reward ($10,000) had been offered for his head. So far as I know, the words "That's not much, is that?" were his only response.
We met at my place in Osh to discuss our media plans a day before his death. The day of his death we had pilau in a chaihana (tea house) and returned to the office where work was waiting.
We had plans to dine with some friends in Qorasuv that evening. Everything was routine. Alisher had a message to e-mail and therefore told us to go ahead, he would grab a cab and join us later. "You are coming for sure, aren't you?" I asked, leaving. "Sure thing, sister," he said. I would see him dead next time, with two bullets in the head.
He was like my brother and I was like a sister for him. The pain I feel is not something to convey in words.
Alisher dedicated his whole life to the truth and condemnation of the inhuman regime in Uzbekistan. His death is proof. The Uzbeks have lost one of their best sons.