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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Colleagues Mourn Murdered Journalist

The murder of Christopher Gehring, 28, in Almaty on Thursday is the 75th of a journalist on the territory of the CIS in past three years, according to data kept by the Defense of Glasnost Foundation, an organization dedicated to promotion of freedom of the press and speech.


Gehring, an American television journalist, was based in the Kazakh capital where he was director of the Central Asian office of Internews Network, a nonprofit organization assisting the development of free media in the CIS states.


Manana Aslamazyan, the director of the Moscow Internews office, said Gehring was killed shortly after he called the police to switch on the alarm system in his office. Although initial reports of the murder indicated there was no robbery involved, Aslamazyan told said that Gehring was killed during a robbery. She said Gehring's laptop was missing and that the rest of his possessions were searched.


"There is still a notion that every foreigner is a millionaire," she said. Audio and video equipment was piled by door as if it was ready to be carried out.


Gehring -- short, thin, bespectacled, appearing studious much of the time, usually clad in jeans -- was known as a workaholic. Last fall, those who knew said, he was offered the opportunity to join Internews' Moscow office but he refused, saying he still had projects to complete in Almaty.


He enjoyed Mexican and Chinese food, his friends said, but in Central Asia, he existed mostly on macaroni.


Gehring was characterized by many who knew him as a very decent and intelligent man. Sara Harris of ABC News, where Gehring worked between 1991 and 1993, said, "It was wonderful to work with him."


Gehring was appointed as the director of Almaty office of Internews in May 1995, after quitting his job with CNN Headline News.


The organization's main activities are to train and consult with local journalists as well as give free assistance to the independent media in Central Asia. The organization is financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Soros Foundation and other sponsors. The program in Kazakhstan had an appropriation from USAID of $1 million for two years.


Aslamazyan said that the murder will not stop or affect any of Internews' projects. She also dismissed any suggested links between the death of Gehring and upcoming tender of broadcast frequencies generated by the Kazakh government in order to reorganize and improve the quality of the broadcasting in Kazakhstan. Gehring was said to be concerned that high prices will drive small radio and television stations out of business.


"All he did was gather information on how such actions are conducted elsewhere in the world," said Aslamazyan. The organization will conduct a memorial service for Gehring on Wednesday in Almaty. Internews is also planning to set up Christopher Gehring prize for journalists.