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Freedom of Speech in Kyrgyzstan in Danger
Overview of Kyrgyz independent press and media
Ryskeldi Satkeev (ryskeldi64)     Print Article 
Published 2009-06-17 02:42 (KST)   
This article is lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
The ongoing series of assaults and attacks on reporters in Kyrgyzstan have become indicative of the overall situation with freedom of speech in the country.

It is expected that the presidential elections on July 23, 2009 might become the end of the road for Kyrgyz independent press and media. This process of repression against independent press in Kyrgyzstan began when President Bakiev was installed to power. The autumn of 2005 brought the first sign of the change when the ownership of the opposition internet news hub (www.gazeta.kg) was taken from well-known media developer Ulan Melisbek, to a party associated with President Bakiev's family business.

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This step became a cornerstone of the Bakiev authoritarian policy against free press and media in the country. The statistics of attacks on reporters in Kyrgyzstan provided by Marat Tokoev, Chairman of the Journalists Society at the Institute for Public Reporting, have shown the issue of the "extreme journalism". In his view the number of attacks increased with growing instability of the political situation in Kyrgyzstan. According to Tokoev, there were 14 cases of attacks against journalists in 2005, 12 in 2006, 19 in 2007, 5 in 2008. He also noted that there may be more incidents but media representatives prefer not to speak about this because they fear for their own security and distrust the law enforcement authorities.

At the time of the data disclosure in March 2009 there were two cases of assaults against freelance journalists. The most shocking attack took place in March 3 2009 in Bishkek city when the analyst of the Bishkek Reporter newspaper Syrgak Abdyldaev was stabbed 32 times after which he miraculously survived.

Five days later there waas another incident in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh where local broadcast station TV crew Kenzhebaev was brutally beaten. The years 2008 and 2009 were associated with controversial closures of independent newspapers De facto, Alibi and Lizza. The chief editor of the opposition Lizza newspaper Bermet Bukasheva decided to close the company after receiving threatening telephone calls from unknown individuals. In the case of De facto and Alibi authorities had direct hand to the closure of opposition newspapers.

So far this year there have been six attacks on journalists reported in Kyrgyzstan with the latest episode last week, on June 6 2009. The correspondent of Achyk Sayasat newspaper was beaten by unknown individuals. It is already clear that the authorities of Kyrgyzstan specifically target free media in the country except for those media joints which back the current Kyrgyz Government.
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©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ryskeldi Satkeev

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