United States Agency for Global Media

RFE/RL Journalists In Kazakhstan Targeted While Covering Protests

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reporter Svetlana Glushkova was detained during protests today in Kazakhstan, the fourth such incident in recent weeks involving one of the company’s journalists.

Glushkova, a correspondent for Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice of America, was covering a protest in Astana against the government’s decision to rename the city after former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who unexpectedly resigned earlier this week. Dozens of protesters in Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent were arrested.

At the same rally, Glushkova’s cameraman, Ganizat Ospanov, was attacked by people who appeared to be pro-government provocateurs, sustaining a leg injury that required hospitalization and a cast.  Young men and women in costumes to mark the Norouz holiday used newspaper to try to cover the camera of another RFE/RL correspondent, and surrounded several others to prevent them from reporting on the arrests, shouting, “It is Norouz! Report about us!”

RFE/RL correspondents covering protests in Almaty reported similar incidents. In addition, Almaty bureau chief Kuanyshbek Kari was “urgently” summoned to the city administration, where a representative of the administration, together with an official of the Almaty prosecutor’s office, accused the Kazakh Service of producing one-side coverage of political events and inciting hatred.

RFE/RL Acting President Daisy Sindelar condemned these actions, calling them “a blatant attempt to control media coverage of political events and intimidate independent journalists.”

Glushkova is expected to appear before a court in Astana on as-yet unknown charges on March 23.

The March 22 rallies were organized online by the leader of the banned Kazakhstan’s Democratic Choice (DVK) movement, Mukhtar Ablyazov, a vocal critic of Nazarbayev and his government, who lives in self-imposed exile in France.

Kazakh Service correspondent Saniya Toiken was detained by authorities three times this month in the restive city of Zhanaozen, where she has been covering ongoing public demonstrations.

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Contact Martins Zvaners
Deputy Director of Communications, Washington, DC