From CENASIA@LISTS.MCGILL.CA Sun Oct 8 10:38:25 2000
Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2000 01:05:23 +0700
Sender: CENASIA Former Soviet Republic—Central Asia Discussion <CENASIA@LISTS.MCGILL.CA>
From: Chris Schuepp <schuepp@INTERNEWS.KG>

Government and the media in Kyrgyzstan

Internews Network press release, 6 October 2000

Bishkek, October 6th, 2000—Internews Network Kyrgyz Republic, the National Democratic Institute and the Committee for Mass Media of the Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) of the Kyrgyz Republic held their first ever joint conference on October 3rd, 2000, in Bishkek. The conference Government and Mass Media focused on the problems of independent journalists in the run-up to the Presidential Elections on October 29th, 2000 and the possibility of decriminalizing libel and slander in journalism.

Eight deputies of Parliament, chairman of the Central Election Commission Sulaiman Imanbaev, OSCE ambassador Jerzy Wieclaw, leader of the NGO Coalition Tolekan Ismailova and more than 30 journalists from Bishkek and Osh participated in the conference chaired by MP Kabai Karabekov, head of the Committee for Mass Media of the Kyrgyz Jogorku Kenesh.

A very lively discussion between the journalists and the CEC chairman Mr. Imanbaev marked the first part of the conference. The argument centered around the rights of journalists and mass media outlets in the pre-election period. Both sides openly stated their points of view and exchanged information on which media activities are legal or illegal in the run-up to the elections.

The second part of the conference focused on recent libel cases brought forward against journalists and media outlets in the Kyrgyz Republic. Presentations were made by journalists from Delo No., a Bishkek-based opposition newspaper recently under enormous pressure by local authorities, Osh-TV, Pyramida TV station and by Shamaral Maychiev, Internews lawyer who successfully appealed a court decision in Jalal-Abad earlier this year and thus freed a print journalist from jail.

The main goal of the conference was to bring to the parliamentarians' attention that libel cases are still considered under the criminal code in the Kyrgyz Republic and to start the process of improvement of the current legislation.

The Committee for Mass Media of the Jogorku Kenesh published an appeal two days after the conference, calling for a moratorium on legal cases against journalists and media outlets until the elections in Kyrgyzstan are over and agreed on further cooperation with Internews Network and the National Democratic Institute.

P.S. A translation of the appeal and two newspaper articles on the conference are available as doc.files at the INTERNEWS NETWORK office in Bishkek.

If interested, please send a short request to

Chris Schuepp
Country Director
Internews Network
Kyrgyz Republic