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Foreign Minister has telephone conversation with OSCE Special Representative

On January 18, 2023, at the initiative of the OSCE, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic Jeenbek Kulubaev had a telephone conversation with the OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro. The press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic reported.

During the conversation, they discussed issues of cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the OSCE in the field of freedom of speech and the media as well as the current agenda in this direction.

«They expressed readiness to support constructive interaction in the line with the country’s national priorities and international commitments,» the statement says.

Earlier, Teresa Ribeiro expressed concern about the search at the office of 24.kg news agency.

«Such criminal investigations may have a chilling effect on the media freedom and reporting on important issues of public interest in the country,» Teresa Ribeiro stressed.

Employees of the State Committee for National Security came to the office of 24.kg news agency on January 16 at about 11 a.m. General Director Asel Otorbaeva, Editors-in-Chief Anton Lymar and Makhinur Niyazova were taken for interrogation. Equipment and personal mobile phones of employees were confiscated. The SCNS said that the search at 24.kg news agency was conducted as part of a criminal case under the article «Propaganda of War» of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

In addition, on January 16, the office of Temirov Live was searched and editorial equipment was confiscated. The police searched homes and detained 11 current and former employees of the media outlet.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing that, as a result of «forensic linguistic examination» of content found on the social media pages of Temirov Live and Ait Ait Dese on December 30, criminal proceedings had been initiated against them under article 278, part 3 of the Criminal Code for «calling for riots.»

All detainees were arrested on January 17 until the end of investigation by court decision.

Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy, Sapar Akunbekov, Azamat Ishenbekov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, Aktilek Kaparov, Tynystan Asypbekov, Maksat Tazhibek uulu, Zhoodar Buzumov, Zhumabek Turdaliev, Aike Beishekeeva and Akyl Orozbekov will be kept in Bishkek pretrial detention center 1 until March 13. All of them are former or current employees of Temirov Live.