Reporters Without Borders condemns the unprecedented pressure being put on the independent and opposition media in Kazakhstan. The two main opposition newspapers, Golos Respubliki and Vzglyad, were forced to halt publication a matter of days after the prosecutor-general’s office announced it had asked an Almaty court to ban a number of independent and opposition national news outlets, and before any ruling had been made on the substance of the case.
“The Kazakh justice authorities have acted in contempt of all laws in an unwarranted display of cynicism,” the press freedom organization said. “The closure of the newspapers prior to a court verdict amounts to a de facto conviction, yet they have not been given a chance to defend themselves.
“Such a move, the first time it has been done in Kazakhstan, stems from a distortion of the law that is all the more shocking since the laws themselves are tailor-made by Parliament. From the outset, the proceedings have been marked by so many irregularities and inconsistencies that the fairness of the decision is highly questionable.
“The immediate seizure of all reprints from the banned newspapers and raids on their premises rounded off an organized campaign to stifle critical voices in Kazakhstan.
“As the personality cult around President Nursultan Nazarbayev grows apace, we renew our appeal to the international community to make clear to the government in Astana that such abuses are unacceptable. The rapid turn of events in recent weeks is a demonstration, if one were needed, that urgent action is required. Civil society in Kazakhstan needs support more than ever.”