Freedom of Press in Kyrgyzstan

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Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 10:30:33 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Freedom of Press in Kyrgyzstan

From: MINELRES moderator <>

Original sender: Natalia Ablova <> 

Freedom of Press in Kyrgyzstan

Press Freedom in June 1998
Legal Pressure
According to the «Vecherny Bishkek» newspaper of 2 June, the city
prosecutor of Bishkek  did not find a basis for criminal charges
against the head of the State Tele-Radio Corporation arising from a
complaint related to the impediment of the legal professional
activities of the television reviewer, Narkas Mulladzhanov, who was
fired in April 1998 for his absence from work (over a three month
period he was not allowed to appear on air). The irony of the
situation includes the fact that several weeks before the conflict,
the very same people who fired Mulladzhanov awarded him a prize of the
Journalist of the Year.
*   *   *

On 8 June, the Spiritual Board of Moslems in Kyrgyzstan (SBMK) brought
an action against the newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" in the Sverdlovski
District Court of Bishkek seeking compensation for damages from the
newspaper of 10 million som (about $US 500,000) for "moral loss and
the insult to the religious feelings of Moslems" contained in the
article "Jihad: victims and hostages" printed on 1 May 1998. The
photo-collection in which a young person in a turban with an automatic
gun was reading the Koran (the holy Moslem book) with a grenade on it
was regarded as grossly insulting.
*  *  *

On 12 June a member of Parliament, Tursunbai Bakir, the chairman of
the Commission on Human Rights under the President of the Kyrgyz
Republic, announced in the government newspaper ("Slovo Kyrgyzstana")
his intention to seek compensation for moral losses from Aleksei
Sukhov, the author of the article "Candidate for Parliament, and they
are all alike even in Africa" ("Res Publica", 26 May - 1 June 1998).
The member of Parliament was a team member for a candidate in the
Kerme-Too electoral constituency #34 for Osh city during by-elections
at the beginning of June 1998. The journalist wrote in the article:
"If the electors had known about this person, they would hardly have
voted for the candidate he supported. It is well known to everyone in
the country that Tursunbai Bakir was in some way involved in the drug
*   *   *

According to the national information agency "Kabar", on 17 June a
prosecutor gave a severe warning to the editors of the newspaper
"Islam Madaniyaty" ("Islamic Culture") issued by the Spiritual Board
of Moslems in Kyrgyzstan for the publication of materials with "signs
of national, religiously exclusive and intolerant propaganda in
relation to other peoples and nations".
*   *   *

On 23 June the Legislative Assembly (the permanently working house of
Parliament) passed amendments and additions to the law "On the media".
According to one of the amendments, any state or local administrative
body, member of the parliament or local council and also state
officials have the right to demand the media to publish a reply or a
commentary to an article which, in their opinion, does not reflect the
essence of the matter. The author of the amendment is Omurbek
Tekebaev, a member of Parliament. The Legislative Assembly did not
pass the last paragraph of the amendment which reads: "the repeated
refusal by the media to publish a reply or a commentary serves as a
basis for closing the media outlet". The passed law will be sent to
the head of state for confirmation.
*   *   *

On 25 June it became known that Abdygany Erkebaev, the speaker of the
Assembly of the People’s Representatives (a house of parliament which
works on a session basis) intends to bring proceedings against the
executive editor of the newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana", Daniil
Kyshtobaev, for an article "When a tragedy becomes a farce" ("Slovo
Kyrgyzstana", 16 June 1998). The article evaluated the parliamentary
hearing related to the ecological disaster that occurred recently at
the Barskaun river, near the Issyk-Kul lake. The journalist wrote the
following "...Rot is issuing from Parliament like from the
Shakespearean Danish Kingdom», " Parliament there is
schizophrenia which does not yield to 'house' treatment", "the members
of Parliament rejected the last layer of modesty and began to appear
publicly with their clannish connections".

Administrative Pressure
At the beginning of June is became known that, according to the
resolution #305 of 26 May 1998 by the premier-minister of the Kyrgyz
Republic, Kubanychbek Dzhumaliev,  the premises of the "Asaba"
newspaper, where they have been for the last 30 years, is under the
control of the Ministry for Internal Affairs. In the opinion of the
staff of the newspaper, article 265(1) "Limitation of Acquisition" of
the Civil Code of the KR is being breached: "A citizen or legal body
which honestly, openly and continuously controls as its own property
the fixed property for a period of fifteen years or other property for
a period of five years, acquires the right to ownership of this
property (limitation of acquisition)". The head of the
financial-economic department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr.
Ni, made a written request that the premises be vacated by 1 July
1998. From the beginning the premises have been occupied by the
newspaper, then due to government regulations the premises were taken
away from them and then again the journalists returned. It should be
remembered that in November 1997 there was an attempt by the tax
department to close the opposition weekly newspaper’s office, however,
nothing came of this. The pressure on the journalists continues.
*   *   *

According to the newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" of 3 June, Abdirashid
Urbaev, the chief-editor of the newspaper "Vecherny Osh" was fired.
The newspaper belongs to the Osh City State Administration and to the
local kenesh (council). Urbaev explained his forced departure as
"contrived" by the local authorities.

*   *   *

According to the newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana" of 12 June, Anvar
Artykov, a member of Parliament, demanded the immediate release of all
the journalists in the press service of the Legislative Assembly
because of a press release which criticized him and another member,
Tokon Shailieva and which contained the phrase "unfounded attacks on
the work of the house" related to some of the public utterances of the
two deputies. Artykov announced that "...the Legislative Assembly and
the staff of the house have been linked to dirty intrigues". Using the
threat of legal proceedings the member demanded the head of the house
press service, Yrys Osmonalieva, for a retraction of the report
prepared by the press service. The MP’s demand to include in the
agenda of the session questions on the activities of the house press
service was not supported.

*   *   *

In a sitting of the Legislative Assembly on 23 June, a member of
Parliament, Sheraly Sydykov, demanded that measures be passed in
relation to B.Sutenova, the vice-president of the National Tele-Radio
Broadcasting Corporation, relating to the fact that she did not
support the live airing of the sitting. It should be noted that the
house had to pay for the transmission in advance and that this was not

Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law
26 June 1998

Natalia Ablova, Director
Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law
40 Manas avenue,Room 77,Bishkek 720001,
Tel.+3312 211874
Fax +3312 223924

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