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September 1, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

New opposition newspaper suspended for three months


Just six months after its launch, the opposition newspaper ADAM has been suspended for three months on characteristically absurd bureaucratic grounds. Reporters Without Borders condemns its closure, which is typical of the Kazakh government’s unacceptable suppression of media freedom. ADAM was launched on 13 March, almost immediately after its predecessor, the weekly ADAM bol, was closed at the end of February, but the Kazakh authorities were clearly unable to stand by and let a new opposition newspaper emerge from the ashes of the last one. The company that prints ADAM notified the newspaper’s management on 27 August that it was unable to print the latest issue for “technical reasons.” Representatives of the regional government of Almaty (Kazakhstan’s business capital) went to the newspaper’s headquarters later the same day and handed over a temporary closure order claiming that it had violated its statutes by publishing articles that were not in the Kazakh language. Two hours later, an Almaty administrative court issued an order suspending the newspaper for three months and fining it 200,000 tenge (750 euros). ADAM’s suspension is discriminatory and utterly disproportionate,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “The use of such absurd bureaucratic pretexts is typical and cannot hide the fact that the authorities clearly want to close this publication for good because they regard it as a nuisance. We urge them to rescind this unjust decision and to end this persecution, which has gone on for too long.” Like ADAM bol, its predecessor, ADAM is the creation of the well-known opposition journalist Guljan Yergaliyeva. ADAM bol was also initially suspended and fined before being forced to close for good in February. All the publications launched by Yergaliyeva in recent years have ended up being suppressed. The already difficult media climate became suffocating in Kazakhstan after all the leading national opposition newspapers were closed simultaneously in December 2012. Since then, any attempt to launch new independent publications is quickly quashed. Arrests of journalists and bloggers are also common. Kazakhstan is ranked 160st out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.