What Awaits the Media in Kazakhstan: Changes to the Draft Law on Mass Media

Radio Azattyk, one of the editorial offices of the U.S.Congress-financed media organization Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), has sued the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan for denial of accreditation. The case was transferred to the specialized district court of Astana. At the beginning of this year, 36 employees of the editorial office were not accredited. According to the government agency, the reason was due to fines and charges which the editorial staff  incurred for spreading false information in previous publications.

The lawsuit has coincided with the discussion of changes to the Law on the Mass Media in Kazakhstan. Rumors began to spread quickly on social networks and in some publications that the country was expected to significantly restrict the rights of media representatives.

Member of the Majilis, Nikita Shatalov described in a post on social media the updates that are intended for the law “On Mass Media,” stating that he intends to refute inaccurate information that has been leaked to the media. According to Shatalov, a ban on foreign media isn’t expected. The ban will apply only to those publications that work without accreditation. The only new point that will be introduced is the possibility of denial of accreditation in cases of a possible threat to national security emanating from a particular publication.

Shatalov specified that this rule is based on the law “On National Security,” which provides clear guidelines by which the presence or absence of a threat will be determined. This rule will be applied only to those foreign media which in some way or other have called for a violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, or exacerbated unrest or security threats in the country.

The law will give foreign publications the opportunity to challenge the decision to refuse accreditation in court.

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Times of Central Asia

Askar Alimzhanov graduated from the journalism department of the Kazakh State University named after S. Kirov, then worked as a correspondent for the daily republican newspaper Leninskaya Smen. He then moved to the United States to be a reporter for the daily newspaper "Cape Cod Times" in Hayanis, Massachusetts, (USA) under the journalist exchange program between the Union of Journalists of the USSR and the New England Society of News Editors. Since then, he has helped build transparency and understanding of Central Asia region in various executive level positions at esteemed media organizations including "Akbar"(Alma-Ata) international center for journalism, the Khabar News agency, the Television and Radio Corporation "Kazakhstan" JSC, and MIR- Kazakhstan.

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