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Media community of Kyrgyzstan notes deterioration in freedom of speech

Media community of Kyrgyzstan notes deterioration of situation with freedom of speech in connection with a massive DDoS attack on the media, multimillion lawsuits and freezing of bank accounts of investigative offices, as well as threats to the personal safety of journalists. This is stated in a sent out common statement.

«The lack of measures to ensure protection of freedom of speech by the authorities leads to mass protests. Kyrgyzstanis have held peaceful rallies #Reaction twice, demanding adequate measures to investigate corruption cases, detected by investigative journalists, and to protect freedom of speech,» the text says.

«The media play an important role in informing citizens objectively about what is happening in the country, but now the media are forced to independently provide their physical security and cybersecurity. The editorial offices that conducted the investigation, have sent the available documents on corruption investigations to the investigating authorities and are ready to cooperate with the investigation. The journalists, who are currently on a business trip, in accordance with the law, are also ready to testify online,» the statement’s authors stress.

Over the past day, a number of online media have undergone an unprecedented DDoS attack. This happened immediately after factcheck.kg resource published an investigation «Just facts: Luxury Watches, Brand Name Bags and Clothes of Matraimov’s Wife and How Much They Cost» on December 17 at 4 p.m.

As a result of the attack, factcheck.kg website ceased to function. Further, other online media outlets that posted factcheck.kg material were subjected to a DDoS attack: Kloop.kg, Kaktus.Media, Economist.kg, Govori.tv, Vb.kg, Knews.kg, Pk.kg.

The current situation is causing serious concern and indicates the presence of pressure on independent media in Kyrgyzstan. Inaction on the part of state bodies, who in such cases should take an active position to ensure the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of speech, can lead to a serious rollback from democratic principles and complete stagnation in development. It is worth noting that, according to the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, and the state itself must ensure all conditions for the development of free, independent and pluralistic media.

The media community calls on authorities:

  • To ensure physical and digital safety of journalists;
  • Investigate corruption cases cited by Kloop, Azattyk, and OCCRP;
  • Guarantee an honest, open and impartial trial of claims brought against investigative editorial offices;
  • Protect the media from multimillion lawsuits.