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June 5, 2019 - Updated on June 6, 2019

Homage to Kazakh press freedom defender Rozlana Taukina

Rozlana Taukina / Facebook

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is deeply saddened by the death of its Kazakhstan correspondent, Rozlana Taukina, for decades a prominent journalist and leading advocate for the freedom of the media in her country.

Always cheerful and energetic as RSF’s correspondent for the past 18 years, and a lifelong activist in the defence of press freedom, Rozlana Taukina died in Almaty on 26 May at the age of 60.

After running several news organizations at the end of the Soviet era, she founded two of Kazakhstan’s first independent media outlets in the early 1990s, the TV channel Totem and a radio station with the same name.

Their editorial independence, professionalism and live political debates caused a sensation in a media landscape emerging from the Soviet ice-age. It was therefore no surprise that they were among the first media outlets to be eliminated in 1996 as then President Nursultan Nazarbayev tightened his grip on the country.

Far from giving up, Taukina took many initiatives in support of persecuted journalists while continuing to work for various media. She set up the NGO Journalists in Danger and other journalists’ associations, campaigned for the release of imprisoned journalists such as Ramazan Esergepov and Zhanbolat Mamay, and organized protests. And she made a vital contribution to RSF’s advocacy, reporting and assistance activities until the very end.

“In Rozlana Taukina, we have lost not only a comrade with an infectious laugh and feisty character but also a piece of Kazakh history,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Her independent spirit, resilience and dogged determination will continue to be an inspiration for us all. She dedicated her life to defending press freedom and persecuted journalists against all odds. We offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and colleagues.”

Kazakhstan is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.