Kazakhstan Debates Foreign Media Accreditation

Following their second reading, the Majilis (lower chamber of parliament) of the Republic of Kazakhstan has adopted the bills “On Mass Media” and “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Field of Mass Media,” sending them to the Senate for consideration. The documents are designed to regulate the professional activities of mass media outlets. The new amendments are evoking mixed reactions.

One of the key proposals was the right of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deny accreditation to foreign media and their representatives if they pose a threat to national security. This initiative provoked opposition from representatives of the media, who consider such regulations a mechanism for suppressing freedom of speech.

“The draft law proposes a regulation on the introduction of press cards, granting the right to simplified accreditation to individual journalists. Frankly speaking, this norm caused great controversy in the working group and society as a whole. The overwhelming majority of the working group members regarded this rule as one that contradicts democratic principles, discredits journalists, and hinders the comprehensive dissemination of information. Therefore, a specific decision was made on this: the rule on press cards was excluded,” said Majilis representative, Zhanarbek Ashimzhanov, answering journalists’ questions.

Other changes proposed in the draft laws include combining online publications and news agencies into the category of “internet publications,” as well as shortening the statute of limitations for journalist legal requests and setting shorter deadlines for responding to media inquiries.

Among other rules, members of the Majilis also proposed introducing a ban on the publication of materials about LGBT themes and topics. These changes were critically evaluated by experts, and these regulations were not included in the final document as members of the working group concluded that it contradicts both Kazakhstani and international legislation.


Times of Central Asia