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Zh Suis Gulzhan

23 Jan

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Kazaxia would like to express its support for freedom of expression in Kazakhstan in the spirit of Je suis Charlie .

Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, editor-in chief of the embattled ADAM bol magazine,was detained in Almaty this morning as she attempted to go to a public meeting with some of the magazine’s readers in Republic Square.

Yergaliyeva has been on hunger strike since 19 January in protest at a November court ruling ordering the closure of ADAM bol for engaging in alleged “extremist war propaganda“.

Other journalists from the magazine were also arrested en-route to the gathering, which attracted a handful of activists. The magazine is one of the last examples of that endangered species – the independent, opposition press, in Kazakhstan.







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.

Kazakhstan: Bloggers Beware as Hockey Star’s Wife Refused Visa

12 Apr

Stacy Dallman, wife of Barys Astana ice hockey team star Kevin Dallman, is reporting on her blog Adventures in Kaziland, that she has been refused a Kazakhstan visa after living in the country for four years.

Her blog took a look at life in Kazakhstan and didn’t flinch from criticising problems such as the endemic corruption in the country. After pressure from her husband’s agent, she was forced to remove a post from her blog in March 2012.

If you are wondering where the last post went…. well….Kevins agent made me delete it! Well the agent is blaming it on the team, the team is blaming it on the owner of the team, the owner of the team is blaming it on the president of the country. I’m not quite sure if the president of any country would have enough time on his or her hands to worry about one little blog that less than 100 people read per day…but that’s their story and they are sticking to it.

What’s got into Astana that it’s running scared of a blogger getting 100 hits a day? Have recent moves to stifle dissent within the country now been extended to foreigners?

With its new three-party parliament Kazakhstan likes to present itself as a democracy, but it takes more than a sham parliament  to make a true  democracy with a functioning civil society.

Not only has Kazakhstan lost a critical blogging voice, but Barys Astana has also lost its star defender as  Kevin Dallman’s contract, which had another three years to run, has now been terminated.

Stacy Dallman signed off with the following

I’m done.

No more blogs about Kazakhstan.

I leave behind some of the most intelligent, discerning young people who are poised to become the next leaders of a historically repressed country that I am confident has the desire and ambition to overcome it’s problems.

My expulsion from the country only verifies each and every point that I have witnessed over the past four years spent in Astana.