Recent developments in Kyrgyzstan are displaying the dark side of a free press.
Since Kyrgyzstan embarked on its experiment in parliamentary-style democracy in 2010, a few journalists have made commendable efforts to fulfill the traditional watchdog function of a free press. But such bright spots are being marred by a rise in chauvinistic and racist rhetoric in the Kyrgyz-language press, along with recent violent attacks against journalists.
Addressing journalists at a May 3 celebration of World Press Freedom Day, President Roza Otunbayeva praised her government’s media record: “Freedom of the press is the main achievement of the republic. No journalist has been forced to flee the country, no one has been put to the administrative grindstone, and no one has been attacked,” Otunbayeva said, referring to the period following the collapse of Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration in April of 2010.
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Alisher Khamidov is a freelance writer specializing in Central Asian affairs.