West Concerned Over Recent Attacks Against Journalists In Kazakhstan
By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service January 20, 2023
The United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have expressed concerns over an increase in attacks against independent journalists in Kazakhstan since the start of the year.
In a joint statement on January 20, the embassies of the two countries and the 27-nation bloc expressed solidarity with journalists who were either attacked or intimidated and called on the Kazakh government to thoroughly investigate each incident and bring all responsible individuals to justice.
The Almaty-based Adil Soz (A Just Word) group, which monitors journalists' rights, said this week that at least five journalists have been attacked since January 1.
On January 19, unknown individuals covered the door of noted journalist Vadim Boreiko with a spray foam. Boreiko, who runs a popular Giperborei YouTube channel, says the attack was linked to his journalistic activities.
A day before that, a popular new website, Ulysmedia.kz, had to suspend its operations following a hacking attack. The website's chief editor, Samal Ibraeva, told RFE/RL the attack was most likely linked to the website's professional activities, adding that the website has faced several similar attacks in recent months.
Last week, unknown attackers broke a window of a car belonging to well-known journalist Dinara Egeubaeva before setting the vehicle on fire. Egeubaeva linked the attack to her professional activities.
Police said later that they had apprehended a group of teenagers suspected of the arson attack, but it remains unclear who ordered it.
All three journalists have been writing and reporting about the first anniversary of the violent dispersal of anti-government protests that turned into mass disorder and left at least 238 people, including 19 law enforcement officers, dead.
On January 20, presidential spokesman Ruslan Zheldibai said President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, who has initiated a series of changes since last year's deadly protests in an effort to create a "new Kazakhstan," had ordered police to investigate each attack against the journalists.
The U.S., U.K., and EU ambassadors said they welcomed Toqaev's call.
"Freedom of expression and free media are essential to build a new Kazakhstan with an open and vibrant society and accountable system of government. We renew our support for Kazakhstan in its efforts to achieve these goals," the joint statement said.
Kazakhstan ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index.
Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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