Saniya Toiken, who reports for Radio Azattyk (the Kazakh service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), was providing live video coverage of an unauthorized fair in support of political prisoners on 24 October when a plainclothes policeman snatched her phone.
Uniformed policemen then intervened but, instead of dealing with her assailant, they roughed up Toiken and only let her go after realizing she was a reporter. She had to go to a hospital for treatment for bruising and other injuries to her arms and legs.
“The police must respect the right to inform and must guarantee the safety of journalists, not attack them,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We support Saniya Toiken’s complaint and we call on the authorities to conduct a transparent and impartial investigation into this violence, so that those responsible are prosecuted.”
Toiken filed a complaint today with the Nur-Sultan prosecutor’s office accusing the police of bodily injuries, obstructing journalistic activity, and abuse of power and authority accompanied by use of force. She also filed a request to the Police Commissioner, which was denied.
Toiken was arrested several times in connection with her reporting in 2019.
After 30 years of absolute rule, President Nursultan Nazarbayev finally resigned in March 2019, making way for Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who portrays himself as a reformer. Kazakhstan is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.