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.
“Kazakh authorities’ efforts to hunt down the last remnants of independent media show an almost pathological intolerance to press freedom,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Assandi-Times and other banned publications should be allowed to resume publishing immediately. A country without independent media is a country doomed to misinformation and isolation.”
Respublika was known for its exposés on government corruption. Authorities declared it “extremist” and banned it in late 2012, along with more than two dozen other independent and pro-opposition publications. The shuttering of Assandi-Times is the latest in a string of measures to destroy the handful of independent and pro-opposition outlets still operating. On Friday, an Almaty court ordered the shutdown of pro-opposition newspaper Pravdivaya Gazeta for alleged technical violations, according to news reports.