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Kyrgyzstan

2011

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New York, December 20, 2011--Today's ruling by Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court upholding a life sentence for independent journalist Azimjon Askarov on fabricated charges is a lethal blow to press freedom and justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Stark regional differences are seen as jailings grow significantly in the Middle East and North Africa. Dozens of journalists are held without charge, many in secret prisons. A CPJ special report

Journalists reporting on protests and civil unrest face a rising threat of detention. Here, Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist. (Reuters)


New President Almazbek Atambayev was sworn in Thursday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. (AP)

In late October, a regional court in Jalal-Abad, southern Kyrgyzstan, convicted and sentenced in absentia to hefty prison terms two ethnic Uzbek media owners, Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV and Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV. Both men were tried in connection to the ethnic conflict that ravaged southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Authorities accused both media owners of stirring up the violence and participating in the mass killings--charges that CPJ research established to be politicized and unfounded. CPJ reached out to Khudaiberdiyev, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail, to comment on the prosecution and the state of press freedom in Kyrgyzstan.

Ethnic Uzbek men look for their belongings at a destroyed house outside Osh on June 16, 2010. (AFP)

On October 28, a regional court in Jalal-Abad, southern Kyrgyzstan, announced its verdict in the trial of six men--all ethnic Uzbeks--charged in connection with violent ethnic conflict in June 2010. Among the defendants were owners of what was once the region's most influential media--Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV and Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV. The Jalal-Abad City Court declared the defendants guilty on separate counts of incitement to ethnic hatred, organizing mass disorder, creation of armed military groups, separatism, and abuse of office. Khudaiberdiyev was sentenced to 20 years in jail, and Mirzakhodzhayev to 14 years; both men had fled Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and were tried and sentenced in absentia.

New York, August 15, 2011--Kyrgyz authorities must thoroughly investigate Wednesday's brutal attack on Shokhrukh Saipov, the Osh-based editor and publisher of the news website UzPress, and bring his assailants to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Shokhrukh Saipov is the younger brother of Alisher Saipov, the prominent journalist killed in southern Kyrgyzstan in October 2007 whose murder remains unsolved.

Kyrgyzstan is an "island of democracy" where authorities guarantee freedom of speech and reporting on protest rallies is not a crime, Kyrgyz government officials told an audience. They were speaking at a May 26 round-table discussion at the Open Society Institute in New York. CPJ vehemently disagreed. We had reported on the ongoing prosecution of media owners in the country and how a regional reporter had been recently sentenced to life in prison.

New York, May 13, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Kyrgyz authorities today to drop trumped-up criminal charges against the founder and director of the largest regional television channel, Osh TV, and the founder, owner, and director of three now-defunct media outlets--the independent broadcaster Mezon TV, and newspapers Itogi Nedeli and Portfel.

President Otunbayeva should apply the rule of law in the Askarov case. (AP/Maxim Shubovich)

World leaders like to invoke terms such as press freedom, human rights, and the rule of law in their speeches, especially to international audience. But in post-Soviet Eurasia, such high-minded words are rarely accompanied by genuine action. A recent commentary in The Washington Post by Roza Otunbayeva, president of Kyrgyzstan, is a testament to this pattern.

On the Runet, Old-School Repression Meets New

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched a blog but the Kremlin promised to tightly control who can comment on it. (Reuters)

By Nina Ognianova and Danny O'Brien

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has often talked about the importance of a free press and free Internet, telling reporters before his election that the Web "guarantees the independence of mass media." He explicitly tied the two together in his first State of the Union address in November 2008, declaring that "freedom of speech should be backed up by technological innovation" and that no government official "can obstruct discussion on the Internet."

2011

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Killed in Kyrgyzstan

1 journalist killed since 1992

1 journalist murdered

1 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

7 Human rights defenders and groups seeking release of jailed reporter Azimjon Askarov.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Europe and Central Asia

Program Coordinator:
Nina Ognianova

Research Associate:
Muzaffar Suleymanov

nognianova@cpj.org
msuleymanov@cpj.org

Tel: 212-465-1004
ext 106, 101
Fax: 212-465-9568

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Blog: Nina Ognianova
Blog: Muzaffar Suleymanov