Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014, 20:05 GMT

Predators of Press Freedom: Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 3 May 2011
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Predators of Press Freedom: Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev, 3 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dc2b52dc.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan

Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected on 3 April 2011 with an announced 95% of the vote, indicating the plight of the opposition, independent media and critics of the regime. The country became the first former Soviet republic to annually chair the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010 but Nazarbayev did nothing to change his image as a predator of press freedom. He decreed prison sentences for anyone attacking his "honour" and "dignity" and tightened rules for officially registering media outlets. Newspapers can be legally shut down more easily and journalists who work for a suspended publication can be banned from working for three years.

The Internet is no longer spared. A 2009 law gave blogs, chat-rooms and other websites the same legal status as the traditional print media, thus making them liable to stand trial for press offences, which are punishable by imprisonment. Prosecution and physical attacks on journalists are common. Journalist Igor Lara was beaten up for writing about a 19-day strike by 10,000 oil-workers in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen and about other oil industry problems. Ramazan Yesergepov, founder and editor of the weekly Alma-Ata-Info, remains in prison. Power struggles inside the regime continue to take their toll on the media. The country's most popular blog platform, for example, was closed in 2008 after the president's disgraced former son-in-law used it to launch his own online newspaper.

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