The Bishkek Crackdown
Radio Europe's Kyrgyz site, known at Radio Azattyq, for two months. That means unless you have a VPN, you're not going to be able to see or read stories on that website. The Kyrgyz government did this citing that Azattyq had published false information after it reported stories about a conflict with neighboring Tajikistan that was not favorable to Kyrgyzstan. Then the government froze all the bank accounts of Azattyq. Reporters have not been paid for weeks.
In addition, several journalists have been arrested, including a woman who is pregnant and had to be rushed to the hospital. Meanwhile, the government is trying to push through a draconian media law that would require news websites to register with the government and make news organization list which foreign governments—read Western grants—are giving them money.
There was a rally in support of independent media the day after the rally to shut them down. But for the most part it seems journalists are in retreat, afraid to say anything publicly for fear that the government will retaliate. Anyone who has battled with the government knows silence is not the way to combat a bully. The best leverage journalists have in the face of a crackdown is to speak up and explain to the public how limiting press freedoms affects their access to information.
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Fulbright in Central Asia
From March, 2022 to January of 2023, I was a Fulbright Scholar with the U.S. State Department in post-Soviet Central Asia. My previous Fulbright was in Ukraine. For the past six years, I have reported on journalists from post-Soviet countries who have experienced retaliation for reporting the truth.
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