Kyrgyzstan Takes Authoritarian Turn With Renewed Assault on Media
Officers with Kyrgyzstan’s anticorruption agency moved to shut down an opposition-owned television station on December 19 in just one of several parallel developments underlining the country’s deepening authoritarian tendencies.
Elsewhere the same day, a court handed down a financially crippling ruling against independent journalists and a rights activist, while a criminal trial against a prominent opposition politician was reaching its conclusion.
There had been some hope that newly elected President Sooronbai Jeebenkov might seek to nurture goodwill after assuming office last month. Instead, officials have now taken aim at a television station known to be controlled by Jeebenkov’s main rival in the October 15 presidential elections, Omurbek Babanov.
Around 5 pm on December 19, a group of bailiffs and policemen descended on Bishkek-based broadcaster NTS with a court order to freeze the station’s assets. NTS presenter Aziyat Zheksheyev wrote on Facebook that the court order was presented by a group of police officers.
“Bailiffs have demanded that NTS close its premises and stop broadcasting,” Zheksheyev wrote.
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