A DANGEROUS OCCUPATION….
If it remains risky business to be a journalist in Russia, there are worse fates: You could be a journalist in Kazakhstan. The European Union issued a statement yesterday (May 29) saying it was “deeply worried” about recent attacks against that Central Asian country’s independent media. The EU was referring to a series of incidents, including the firebombing of the offices of the Delovoye Obozreniye-Rebpublika (Republic Business Review) newspaper, an attack on two journalists with the SolDat newspaper and the destruction of the paper’s equipment, an arson attack on the Ak Zhaiy publishing house in Atyrau and repeated acts of vandalism on the TAN TV feeder cable in Almaty.
The attacks have been carried out by unknown assailants, but the political subtext is not hard to decipher. The Republic Business Review, for example, is an opposition paper owned by Mukhtar Abliazov, the former prime minister and leader of the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan who was recently arrested. On May 19, two days before it was firebombed, a decapitated dog was found outside the paper’s offices with a note reading: “There will be no next time.” The dog’s head, with a similar note attached, was subsequently left outside the house of the paper’s chief editor. In case this was too subtle, she was delivered a funeral wreath several days later.
“This is what happens when you start criticizing the president, his family members or his policy,” a Republic Business Review reporter told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. This past February, President Nursultan Nazarbaev denounced the opposition media, complaining that all they ever did was “vilify everything.” On June 4, Nazarbaev will host a summit of Asian states in Almaty.
This issue was written by Jonas Bernstein.