[QODLink]
Listening Post

Silencing Kazakhstan's media

As the country marches into the future, many critical journalists get a taste of its Soviet past.
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2013 10:03

In many ways the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan is much better off than some of its other ex-Soviet neighbours.

It is the richest country in the region, with abundant oil and natural resources. But it is also a country that is conscious of its image.

The government, led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, knows how it wants the country to be perceived: As a fast developing nation with a bright future.

It does not help that Kazakhstan has a repressive political system, a poor human rights record and is intensifying its crackdown on the media.

In the past couple of months, media outlets have been shut down - all of whom had played key roles in covering the 2011 protests by oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen where police gunned down rioting workers. Since those riots, many private media outlets have increasingly earned the tag 'opposition.'

Options for the independent media are narrowing as courts chase down newspapers and TV channels that refuse to toe the government line. According to the Nazarbayev government, there are nearly 3,000 media outlets operating in Kazakhstan and it says it controls only 16 percent of them.

However, according to a study conducted last year by Freedom House, aWashington-based think tank, much of the remaining media, privately owned outlets, are “firmly under the control of major financial groups affiliated with the regime.”

The study calls the media law there “highly restrictive” and says that the law and the penal code “criminalise criticism of the president and leading government figures.”

It seems that as Kazakhstan marches into the future, journalists who see anything other than a glittering parade get a taste of its Soviet past

"Kazakhstan hasn't used it's wealth to develop institutions that would take the problems of say workers in the west, in the oil fields, or migrants coming into cities, and bring those into the government and resolve them. And the media is a key part of this, it's very difficult to resolve people's grievances if you won't allow those grievances to be voiced in public, which is what a free media does, it finds problems, it examines them and it brings them to the attention of society and right now the government of Kazakhstan is discouraging that from happening and it's going to cripple the country's development."

Nate Schenkkan, a senior programme associate at Freedom House

417

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list