Kyrgyzstan rose three places to the 79th in the annual World Press Freedom Index 2021. International organization Reporters Without Borders reports.
As the authors note, the pluralism of the Kyrgyz media is exceptional in Central Asia, but the polarization of Kyrgyz society is reflected both within the media themselves and in the environment for journalists.
«This was seen in the attacks against reporters by both police and demonstrators during the post-election unrest in October 2020. Investigative journalism is still hesitant, hampered by difficulties in accessing information and subjected to a great deal of harassment, including physical violence, cyber-attacks and interrogations,» the organization notes.
Exposing corruption — such as the alleged smuggling activities and money-laundering of millions of dollars by the Matraimov family — can still be very dangerous for independent journalists and media outlets.
«Journalists will also continue to lack security until legislative reforms cap damage awards (which have been astronomic), abolish the president’s special protection and ensure judicial independence,» the document says.
As the organization notes, the abortive attempt to impose a draconian law on the pretext of combatting disinformation at the height of the COVID-19 crisis served as another warning.
The extradition of Uzbek journalist Bobomurod Abdullaev back to Uzbekistan in August 2020, although he faced imprisonment and torture there, was also very disturbing.Reporters Without Borders
In general, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on press freedom, the organization notes.
«Since the start of application of the current methodology in 2013, the number of countries where the press freedom could be assessed as «good» has never been so small. In 2020, their number decreased from 13 to 12,» experts of the organization stress.
According to them, independent journalism was completely or partially blocked in 73 states out of 180, work of the media was hampered in other 59 countries.
At the same time, the document notes that the number of acts of violence against media workers has doubled over the year in the EU. Experts stated an increase in the number of attacks on journalists or their illegal detention in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Greece, Serbia.
Norway tops the Press Freedom Index for the fifth year in a row. Finland, Sweden and Denmark take the second, third and fourth places, respectively.
Russia takes the 150th place, Belarus — the 158th, Uzbekistan — the 157th, Tajikistan — the 162nd, Kazakhstan — the 155th, Turkmenistan — the 178th in the ranking.