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Elections 2020: Kyrgyzstanis have not learned to debate

Media experts have monitored 55 media outlets in the Kyrgyz and Russian languages ​​at the beginning of the pre-election period. In their opinion, the Kyrgyzstanis lack tolerance and culture of discussion. The School of Peacekeeping reports.

«The media must comply with election coverage standards and understand the threat of encouragement of hatred and discrimination, take into account gender aspects, correctly portray women-candidates, and promote pluralism and equal representation of candidates in the Parliament. And if candidates and other figures allow hate speech in political discussions, the audience should be informed about the values ​​of these speakers,» media experts say.

The researchers examined news, articles, and visual materials posted in news agencies’ feeds, as well as user generated content, comments on social media and forums.

The analysis revealed that hate speech and discriminatory speech against various groups increased as soon as news appeared in the media about the formation of lists of political parties, their congresses or speeches of candidates.

Experts registered derogatory comments and trolling in relation to various persons. These factors indicate the existing culture of discussion and the level of conflict in society.

At least 44 out of 1,103 publications that were monitored by specialists contained various forms of intolerance and hate speech, including trolling and propaganda.

The largest number of clichés used related to the age of candidates (26 percent). In other discussions, even where there is a neutral tone, users often unnecessarily stress the nationality of people, or attack them with derogatory clichés denoting ethnicity, and resent the presence of these citizens in party lists (23 percent).

Gender intolerance was expressed in clichés and stereotypes that «a woman’s place is at home and not in Parliament» (18 percent).

Supporters of patriarchal values criticize on social media both current women-MPs who have decided to run again in the party list, and the new ones.

Other 18 percent of published materials contain hate speech, which is qualified as territorial intolerance. Materials containing Islamophobic overtones accounted for 15 percent. This includes both user-generated content and journalistic articles that draw parallels between Islam and radical groups, and publish unethical visual content depicting believers.