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Kazakhstan5 October 2005

Opposition newspapers find new printer

Five editors of Kazakh opposition newspapers called off their hunger strike on 29 September 2005 after reaching an agreement with new printers, Daouir.

The five, who began their fast on 28 September after Vremia Print unilaterally terminated their contract, were: Gulzhan Ergalieva of Svoboda slova, Bakhytzhan Mukushev of Epokha, Akhas Tazhutov of, Bakhitgul Makimbay of Jouma-Times and Kaziz Toguzbaev of Azat.

Their staff resumed work on 30 September and the newspapers should reappear within the next few days.

28 September 2005

Seven independent newspapers silenced two months before presidential election

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the action of the Kazakh printing press Vremia Print in unilaterally terminating contracts to print seven opposition newspapers without any explanation on 26 September.

The affected newspapers are Svoboda Slova, Epokha, Pravda Kazakhstana, Apta.Kz, Azat, Jouma-Times and Soz (whose pages have included another newspaper, Respublica, ever since it was banned). In practice, they are all now gagged as Vremia was the only press willing to print alternative newspapers.

“It is unacceptable that the Kazakh public is being deprived of independent and opposition news in the run-up to the 4 December presidential elections,” the press freedom organisation said. “We call on President Nursultan Nazarbayev to respect press diversity, especially at such a crucial moment in the country’s political life.”

The print media have been the only source of independent news as all the TV stations are controlled by Nazarbayev associates.

Five of the newspapers’ editors - Gulzhan Ergalieva (Svoboda Slova), Bakhytzhan Mukushev (Epokha), Akhas Tazhutov (, Bakhitgul Makimbay (Jouma-Times) and Kaziz Toguzbaev (Azat) - began a hunger strike today which they said they would continue until Vremia Print announces that it is willing to resume printing.

“I called around 20 printing firms in and near Almaty but when I gave my newspaper’s name, everyone was terrified and refused outright,” Jouma-Times editor Makimbay told Reporters Without Borders.

Nazarbayev, who has been president for 16 years, is running for another seven-year term in the December election.

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