RFE/RL responds to Kyrgyz government blocking websites in crackdown on free media
Washington, D.C. — Today, Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy announced in a Facebook post it was blocking RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service websites for two months after RFE/RL refused to remove a Current Time Asia report about the recent Kyrgyz-Tajik conflict. These actions are the latest in a series emblematic of a deteriorating media climate in the country. They follow a recent protest outside RFE/RL’s Bishkek bureau that called on authorities to close the Service and other independent local outlets; and proposed legislation that would further limit media freedom.
In a letter dated October 24, the Ministry of Culture gave RFE/RL 24 hours to remove the Current Time Asia report, citing the controversial law on protection against false information adopted in July 2021.
“RFE/RL takes our commitment to balanced reporting seriously. We have reviewed the content in question and find no violation of our standards,” said RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly. “We will not succumb to pressure to remove balanced reporting from our sites, be it from the Kremlin or the Kyrgyz government. Threatening journalists and trying to silence independent media are authoritarian tactics that only serve to undermine Kyrgyz democracy. We will be appealing this decision.”
With the support of the Open Technology Fund, RFE/RL is employing state of the art circumvention technologies that will allow continued access to independent media in Kyrgyzstan by promoting the use of free and effective VPNs, and to TOR for safe anonymous browsing. RFE/RL is also using community messaging through Telegram. Combined, these tools are successfully allowing audiences – both new and loyal users – to access factual, local information.
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Contact Martins Zvaners
Deputy Director of Media and Public Affairs, Washington, DC
- (202) 457-6948