111 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index
Area: 198,500 sq. km.
Languages: Kyrgyz, Russian
Head of state: Kurmanbek Bakiyev, since July 2005
Since the “rose revolution” and the election of Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2005, Kyrgyzstan entered a period of political instability which resulted in a gradual deterioration in press freedom.
New legislation was adopted in June 2008 that went back on all the efforts made since 2005 to convert state radio and television into an independent public media. The law provided for its director to be appointed by the head of state. Other clauses threatened the future of programmes that were not in the Kyrgyz language. Relations were tense at the end of the year between public leaders and some foreign media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The government demanded that radio programmes should be subjected to prior authorisation. The standoff finally ended in a negotiated solution.
The political climate went downhill in spring 2009, with the death of a major opposition figure in a suspicious road accident. Several journalists were physically assaulted in circumstances that brought back memories of unrest in spring 2007 in which eight journalists were beaten up at political meetings by militants.
Searches, legal proceedings and fines were slapped on numbers of newspapers and journalists when they investigated corruption within government circles. One journalist had to leave the country and another took refuge at the US embassy to escape interrogation by the secret services.
No progress was made in the investigation into the death of Uzbek journalist Alisher Sayipov, murdered in Osh in 2006. Several procedural failings were followed by investigators concluding that the son of an opposition figure was the most likely suspect, ruling out any link between the killing and Sayipov’s job.