“Foreign agents” law is latest step in Kyrgyz President Japarov’s growing authoritarianism

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the repeal of a draconian “foreign agents” law based on Russian legislation that has just been signed by Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov. It will allow the authorities to suspend NGOs and independent media without reference to a court, says RSF, warning of a dangerous radicalisation liable to throttle Kyrgyzstan’s free press.

“After arrests of journalists and censorship attempts, the law vilifying supposed ‘foreign agents’ marks a new stage in President Japarov’s growing authoritarianism in Kyrgyzstan. The envisioned draconian measures are liable to throttle independent media that are already under intense police pressure. This law is just a pretext for clamping down even more on Kyrgyz civil society and crushing all media pluralism. We call for its immediate repeal.

Jeanne Cavelier
Head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk

Promulgated by President Japarov on 2 April and largely based on the Russian model, the law was adopted by the parliament on third reading on 14 March. It provides for a variety of measures to identify, register, control and suspend any organisation receiving foreign funding, which applies to most of Kyrgyzstan’s already hounded independent media outlets.

Like the Russian original, the Kyrgyz law requires organisations that receive funds from abroad to label everything they publish as having been produced by a “foreign agent.” They will also have to be entered on a national register or risk being arbitrarily suspended by the government for six months without reference to a court and having all their financial assets frozen. At the end of those six months, a court will be able to decide whether they should be permanently liquidated.

In a statement posted on Facebook on 2 April, President Japarov said he had promulgated the law “in the interest of the public, non-governmental organisations and their foreign partners” despite the many calls from local NGOs and international organisations, including RSF, not to sign it.

Kyrgyzstan has seen a major purge of independent media in recent months. Russia’s “foreign agents” law has inspired many copies in other countries including Nicaragua and Georgia, where the proposed law was finally withdrawn after protests and international pressure.

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Score : 49.11
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