Radio Azattyk, the Kyrgyzstan service of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, discusses the April 27, 2023, court decision ordering the outlet's closure. On July 12, an appeals court reversed that order. (Screenshot: YouTube/Azattyk)

CPJ calls on Kyrgyzstan authorities to allow RFE/RL’s Radio Azattyk to work freely after shutdown reversal

Stockholm, July 12, 2023— The Committee to Protect Journalists says it is relieved by Wednesday’s decision by a Kyrgyzstan appeals court to annul a lower court ruling ordering the closure of Radio Azattyk, the local service of U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“We are relieved by the reversal of Kyrgyz authorities’ decision to shutter Radio Azattyk, but they should never have tried to close it in the first place,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in London. “Kyrgyz authorities must allow Radio Azattyk to work freely and stop putting pressure on it and other media outlets over content they dislike or don’t agree with.”

Radio Azattyk appealed an April 27 district court decision to shutter the broadcaster for publishing a September 2022 video report about border clashes with neighboring Tajikistan. In October, Kyrgyz authorities blocked Radio Azattyk’s websites over the video and ordered a freeze on the outlet’s bank account under money laundering laws. 

On Wednesday, July 12, 2023, the court confirmed a settlement between the broadcaster’s parent company Azattyk Media and Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Culture, Information, Sport, and Youth Policy. According to the ministry, that settlement resulted in the removal of the video from the outlet’s websites.

The ministry announced it would end the block on Radio Azattyk’s websites, and a spokesperson for the Kyrgyzstan President said “restrictions” on Azattyk Media would be lifted. 

Jeffrey Gedmin, acting president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said that the decision — “a result of concerted advocacy and support from the international community” — would enable Radio Azattyk “to continue to reach its audiences with trusted reporting.”