MARCH 2005

Kyrgyz National Television & Radio

Senior government officials prevented journalists at the state-run Kyrgyz National Television & Radio Corporation (KTR) from reporting on rallies protesting fraud-marred parliamentary elections, according to local and international press reports.

The demonstrations toppled President Askar Akayev’s administration, but state media was virtually silent on the unrest until Akayev fled on March 24. As opposition activists stormed government buildings that day, Kyrgyz state television broadcast nature programs. Two journalists and one opposition leader did appear on a state television news program later that night, urging calm and saying they would start reporting on events because KTR management had fled during the protests.

To that point, the failure of the state broadcaster to report on the demonstrations had angered protesters, who attacked KTR journalists in turn. “During the demonstrations and disturbances in the south, the [protesters] simply drove away the KTR journalists, breaking their expensive digital cameras,” said Ernis Mamyrkanov, head of the non-governmental Osh Media Center, according to the London-based Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

On March 22, local media reported that some 90 journalists working for KTR sent a letter to managers protesting the censorship.