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Kazakhstan2 December 2005

Nazarbayev urged to guarantee unimpeded access to information on polling day

Reporters Without Borders wrote today to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev asking him to take all necessary measures to ensure that both national and foreign journalists are able to cover Kazakhstan’s presidential election on 4 December with complete freedom and safety.

Paris, 2 December 2005

Dear Mr. President,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, deplores the arrest of two Ukrainian journalists who went to Kazakhstan to cover the 4 December presidential election. They have been detained since 1 December and could be sent back to Ukraine.

Their arrest is the latest in an already disturbing series of press freedom violations in Kazakhstan. Our organisation has noted many restrictions on freedom of expression this year in the form of such recurring practices as the confiscation of copies of independent newspaper, the filtering or banning of opposition websites, and the improper use of the judicial system to silence dissent. We also deplore the complete lack of information about the real circumstances of the death in June of Batyrkhan Darimbet, the editor of the opposition weekly Azat.

The independent press is subject to constant harassment by the authorities, especially since the start of the presidential campaign. Reporters Without Borders fears that the Kazakh press, like the foreign news media, will not have free access to information on polling day.

This election may not be recognised as free and transparent if the Kazakh authorities prevent the presence of international observers and obstruct the work of national and foreign journalists.

Reporters Without Borders therefore asks you to take all necessary measures to create the best possible conditions for the holding of a free and fair election, and to guarantee the freedom and safety of journalists on this decisive day.

We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.

Robert Ménard Secretary-General

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