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Kyrgyzstan: Russian ’Information Wars’ Heating Up

Looking for balanced news in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: David Trilling)

Relative to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has a fairly free and perennially noisy domestic media scene. Even so, Kyrgyz outlets tend to be no match for Russian state-controlled media when it comes to establishing narratives for current events.

A recently released and annually updated poll funded by USAID and carried out by the Gallup-endorsed SIAR consulting company indicates that the Ukraine crisis is enabling Russian media outlets to expand their reach in Kyrgyzstan, a country where 94 percent of respondents claimed to obtain news about politics from television. According to the latest poll, Kremlin-funded Russian Public Television (ORT) is the second most-watched channel in Kyrgyzstan. It also shows that ORT’s popularity is on the rise, with 20 percent of respondents selecting it as their “most frequent” source of political information and 16 percent as the “most trusted” outlet. Those figures are up from 13 percent and 10 percent respectively in the previous year’s poll.

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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.

Kyrgyzstan: Russian ’Information Wars’ Heating Up

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