A lawmaker in Kyrgyzstan has devised a new threat for journalists whose writing is not the public’s liking — stripping them of their citizenship.
The response was heard in parliament on June 1 in response to Ulugbek Babakulov’s recent report on signs of an apparent surge of intolerant nationalist sentiments among Kyrgyz internet users.
Babakulov’s article, which was titled “People like animals: How Kyrgyz social media is ringing to the sound of vengeance against Sarts,” appeared on Moscow-based website ferghana.ru on May 23 and immediately provoked howls of indignation. Critics of the piece have accused the journalist of smearing the Kyrgyz people and drawing gross generalizations from isolated cases of xenophobic language online.
The springboard for Babakulov’s piece was a recent violence incident in the southern Jalal-Abad region that the reporter said bore signs of an interethnic conflict, namely between Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities. Police later denied this and said the fight on May 18 was actually over a woman.
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