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Kazakhstan


New York, April 21, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the shutting down of Assandi-Times, the last remaining independent newspaper in Kazakhstan. A court in Almaty today declared the weekly a structural part of banned newspaper Respublika, three weeks after court marshals raided Assandi-Times' offices, ordered the journalists to stop working, tried to force the staff out and seal the premises, and confiscated the paper's archives.

New York, April 3, 2014--An independent paper, the Assandi Times, was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns recent measures taken by Kazakh authorities to shut down independent news outlets in the country. 

New York, March 28, 2014--Authorities should drop all charges against a Kazakh journalist who has been accused of libel in connection with a story she has denied writing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. If convicted, Natalya Sadykova faces up to three years in jail under Kazakhstan's criminal libel law. 

New York, February 25, 2014--The shutdown order issued by a district court in Almaty against the independent weekly newspaper Pravdivaya Gazeta is yet another example of Kazakhstan's determination to gag independent voices in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today, adding that the verdict should be overturned on appeal.

The overall climate of press freedom continued to deteriorate although authorities took a step forward in combating impunity in one anti-press attack. Four individuals were convicted and sentenced to jail, and one more suspect was awaiting his trial at year's end in relation to an April 2012 attack on journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov, but no mastermind was named or brought to justice. In February, authorities upheld verdicts ordering dozens of critical news outlets to be shut or blocked domestically on accusations of spreading extremism. As if unsatisfied by the ban, prosecutors continued to harass journalists with the now-outlawed independent newspaper Respublika and barred them from practicing journalism. Citing technical violations, authorities ordered at least three other critical newspapers to suspend publishing. According to the Almaty-based press freedom group Adil Soz, the unfounded and illegal ban on dozens of news outlets, intimidation of individual journalists, unsolved violence, hefty fines, and anti-press freedom laws cemented self-censorship among local reporters. During his June visit to Kazakhstan, British Prime Minister David Cameron tried to discuss these and other human rights abuses with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, but the Kazakh leader publicly told Cameron “not to lecture Kazakhstan.”

New York, July 11, 2013--A court in western Kazakhstan has sentenced four men to terms ranging from 11 to 15 years for carrying out the brutal attack on Kazakh journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov in April 2012, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes this conviction, but calls on Kazakh authorities to identify the masterminds behind the attack and bring them to justice.

In this YouTube screenshot, supporters of independent media demonstrate at the press conference where owners of Stan.kz announced its shutdown. (YouTube/Respublika Kz)

A blocked website; reporting equipment confiscated; a newsroom sealed; and reporters denied information from state agencies: these things together spelled the end of Stan.kz, a local, independent Internet-based broadcaster which for two years had tirelessly reported on developments in Kazakhstan. "We are forced to shut down the Stan.kz newsroom," Bauyrzhan Musirov, owner of parent Stan Production Company, said at a press conference Wednesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan's main city. 

Nursultan Nazarbayev's authoritarian government cracked down on critical news coverage with a flurry of early-year legislation and newsroom raids that came just weeks after deadly clashes between police and striking oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen. In January, in the wake of the December 2011 labor unrest, Nazarbayev's government enacted legislation barring distribution of print or electronic news that the authorities deem a threat to national security. The authorities also imposed new regulations that require Internet café managers to block access to blacklisted websites and proxy servers, monitor client activity, and share client information with government security services. A third measure requires international broadcasters airing programming in Kazakhstan to register with the state. The government also deployed KNB security agents to harass news media that covered the violent crackdown against the strikers, which left 16 civilians dead. Agents raided the independent broadcaster Stan TV, demanded its recorded material concerning Zhanaozen, and interrogated its 15 journalists about the clashes. The KNB also detained editor Igor Vinyavsky for several weeks and intimidated his family and colleagues when they denounced the arrest. In November, just weeks after Kazakhstan was elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, authorities asked the courts to shut dozens of critical news outlets on extremism and mass disorder charges in connection to their reporting on Zhanaozen clashes. Unknown assailants shot and stabbed Lukpan Akhmedyarov, an award-winning journalist who had criticized official actions in Zhanaozen. He was among five critical news reporters who were brutally attacked in separate assaults during the year. All of the attacks remained unsolved in late year.

New York, February 6, 2013--Authorities in Kazakhstan should cease harassing the staff of embattled independent newspaper Respublika, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

A journalist in Astana, the capital, said in a press conference on January 4, 2013, that he had staged his own disappearance in December to attract government attention to ongoing abuses in the country, according to news reports. Local journalists and press freedom organizations condemned the act, which they said caused "great damage" to the Kazakh press.

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Killed in Kazakhstan

1 journalist killed since 1992

1 journalist murdered

Attacks on the Press 2012

5 Assaults, including a reporter stabbed after criticizing government's response to Zhanaozen dispute.

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