Kazakhstan: State Media Muzzled

17 Sep

News reaches Kazaxia that the authorities in Kazakhstan have ordered state-owned media outlets to stick to the accepted party line about events and to not ask awkward questions.

Comments from Darkhan Mynbay, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Culture and Information, carried on Tengri News, said that in the event of emergency situations, Astana will feed information to a pool of officially-sanctioned journos who will then relay the information verbatim.

Kazaxia has been wondering about the inspiration behind this latest move to keep the public uninformed. Could it be linked to the recent visit of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov, a known hater of the free press? In his country media outlets operate under conditions of self-censorship, a way of keeping them in line and ensuring that the message is strictly controlled by Tashkent.

Self-censorship? Now that’s a good idea!

Another possibility are the links that Astana has formed with Tony Blair Associates. Could Tony’s master of the black arts of spin and the sound bite, Alastair Campbell, have been sharing tips with Mr Mynbay from his time dealing with the UK media’s awkward questions?

Blair’s Rottweiler gives tips on spin

A third possibility is the intervention of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak who was also in Astana recently. Maybe he brought a message from his counterpart north of the border as the North Koreans are the masters of media control.

No questions, please – just write what I say!

Whatever the reasoning behind these moves, it’s not going to help the cherished dream of encouraging critical thinking within the populace of Kazakhstan any time soon.

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