Kyrgyz Court Rules in Favor of Shutting Down another Mass Media Outlet

@Freepik

Bishkek’s Oktyabrsky District Court has ruled in favor of liquidating a public foundation named Kloop Media. The official reason, as stated in a social network post by Kloop Media, is discrediting state and municipal bodies. According to the publication’s staff, Bishkek prosecutor Emilbek Abdymannapov filed a lawsuit in court last August seeking to liquidate Kloop Media. The prosecutor had argued that most of the publication’s stories were negative and aimed at discrediting certain representatives of state and municipal bodies.

On August 22nd 2023, Kloop Media published a journalistic investigation focusing on corruption schemes undertaken by top officials in Kyrgyzstan – and later published more material criticizing the president of the republic and his relatives. Consequently, in September 2023, access to the Kloop Media website was blocked, and now the foundation itself has been closed by the authorities following the court’s decision, which states that Kloop Media is not listed in the state register of Kyrgyz media and that the organization’s charter doesn’t specify its main activity, which is the dissemination of information. The Civil Code of the Kyrgyz Republic allows for the liquidation of legal entities if they systematically carry out activities which don’t correspond to the objectives set out in their charters.

Lawyers for the public fund in turn stated that the court session contained multiple violations, and they will appeal the decision to a higher authority.

The public foundation, Kloop Media was established in 2007 and positioned itself as a human rights media outlet. Kloop primarily hired young writers and trained them in investigative journalism.

On the day the court’s decision was announced, the international organization, Reporters without Borders called on the Media Freedom Coalition to take action against what they called an “arbitrary and unjustified decision.”

In April 2023, the Lenin Court of Bishkek ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy of Kyrgyzstan that called for the shutdown of Azattyk Media, which was the Kyrgyz service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, financed by the U.S. State Department. The Ministry objected to material published about fighting on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The authorities claimed that the content contained “elements of hostility and unconfirmed information about an alleged attack by the Kyrgyz side on Tajikistan, inflaming the situation in society and causing hatred, discrimination and division among citizens when covering the events in Batken Oblast.”