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Kyrgyzstan: A Haven for Reporters amid Love and Strife

Elyor Nematov, a photojournalist from the city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan, seen here taking a class on photojournalism in Bishkek, moved to the Kyrgyz capital to be nearer to his girlfriend, as well as hone his skills as a documentary photographer. Media professionals from various parts of Central Asia have made their homes in Bishkek, often for safety and professional growth, other times for more personal reasons. (Courtesy photo)

In a rough neighborhood for journalists, Kyrgyzstan is a relative safe haven. Over the years, reporters from various parts of Central Asia have made their homes there — often for safety and professional growth, other times for more personal reasons.
 
The Reporters Without Borders press freedom index for 2016 tells a clear story. Central Asia is not hospitable territory for the free flow of information and independent journalism. Nations like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan languish at the bottom of the list, alongside such places as North Korea and Ethiopia. Meanwhile, media outlets in Tajikistan have long endured pressure, but repression has intensified since late 2015 and has prompted the flight of dozens of journalists.
 
The stories of three journalistic migrants from various spots in Central Asia are illustrative of how Bishkek has established itself as the chief destination for those seeking creative and intellectual freedom.
 

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Zukhra Iakupbaeva is a journalist based in Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan: A Haven for Reporters amid Love and Strife

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