President vetoes restrictive draft media bill

New York, April 22, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision to veto a controversial media bill passed by both chambers of Kazakhstan’s Parliament earlier this year.

In a speech today at the Third Eurasian Media Forum—a three-day summit of about 400 journalists, analysts, politicians, researchers, and scientists from more than 50 countries—in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Almaty, Nazarbayev acknowledged that the Constitutional Council yesterday called the bill unconstitutional on several norms. The Constitutional Council, whose members are appointed by Nazarbayev, assesses pending laws for their accordance with Kazakhstan’s Constitution. Nazarbayev had handed the bill to the Constitutional Council for evaluation on March 31, after the Senate had passed the bill on March 18.

Local and international media organizations, including CPJ, had widely criticized the bill for giving the government broad authority to interfere in media operations. (For more information, click here.) And on April 9, four Kazakhstani political parties, including Asar, which is headed by Nazarbayev’s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, issued a joint statement appealing to Nazarbayev to veto the media bill, said the New York-based news Web site