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Search, interrogations: Media organizations voice support for 24.kg news agency

Representatives of the media community supported the appeal of the General Director of 24.kg news agency Asel Otorbaeva to the head of the State Committee for National Security of Kyrgzystan Kamchybek Tashiev in connection with the situation developing around the media outlet.

Here is the text in full:

"Dear Kamchybek Kydyrshaevich!

We are writing to you in support of the appeal of the General Director of 24.kg news agency Asel Otorbaeva in connection with the search and sealing of the news agency’s office on January 15, 2024, located at the address: Bishkek city, 77, Manaschi Sagynbay Street. During the search in the office, office equipment, cell phones of almost all employees, accounting and other documents were confiscated. In this regard, we join the editorial position that there is no procedural need to seal the rented premises and confiscate the stamps of the LLC.

At the same time, sealing of the office significantly complicates the professional activities of journalists of 24.kg news agency, who cannot fully perform their duties outside the workplace.

A reduction in the scale of the agency’s functioning may result in a significant reduction in the amount of news. The main source of funds for the agency’s activities is the placement of advertising and promotional texts on the website. But at the moment, the editors cannot fully fulfill their obligations on payment of taxes and insurance premiums, under agreements with partners, including advertising ones. This situation may lead to problems with the timely fulfillment of contractual obligations for the calculation and payment of wages to 24.kg employees, who in this situation, in turn, will not be able to fulfill obligations to their families who need to be fed and supported, not to mention those of them who has loan obligations.

24.kg news agency has been operating in Kyrgyzstan for almost 18 years, during which it has been providing prompt coverage of the most important events in the country and abroad. Despite the situation that has developed since January 15, 2024, all these days the journalists of the media outlet continue to work and disseminate socially significant information, including from government authorities, in strict accordance with the requirements of the law. At the same time, the management of 24.kg appears for interrogations by investigators regularly, upon request. The editors declared their readiness to continue, if necessary, to provide information and documents of interest to the investigation. It is important to note with regard to the controversial publication that, as it is known, it did not have any negative consequences or public outcry, and there was no material damage.

Based on the above, we join the appeal of 24.kg news agency and ask you to consider the need for the investigative authorities to authorize the admission of the news agency’s employees to the working office and the return of seals and stamps to ensure the dissemination of timely, important and reliable information by professional journalists."

The appeal was signed by:

  1. Media Policy Institute PF.
  2. Kloop Media PF
  3. Leila Saralaeva, editor of New Faces.
  4. Dina Maslova, director of Kaktus.media.
  5. Tamara Valieva, Chairperson of Media Actions Platform of Kyrgyzstan.
  6. MediaConsult PF.
  7. Nurgul Abdykerimova, Center for Media Development.
  8. Tattuububu Ergeshbaeva, director of Tandem legal community.
  9. Semetei Amanbekov, editor-in-chief of Exclusive.kg.
  10. Gladis Temirchieva, Vesti.kg.
  11. Asel Sooronbaeva, editor of Checkit Media.
  12. Dilbar Alimova, PolitKlinika.
  13. Zhannat Toktosunova, Channel Three.
  14. Nazira Dzhusupova, Community Media Association.
  15. Nurgul Sharshembieva, head of House of Journalist NGO.
  16. Yaroslav Tartykov, Factcheck.kg.
  17. Marat Tokoev, media expert.
  18. Kaiyrgul Urumkanova, director of Govori TV.
  19. Adelya Laisheva.
  20. Dmitry Lozhnikov, editor of Archa Media.
  21. Staff of April TV channel.
  22. Next-TV TV channel.
  23. Nargiza Nanakeeva, Politmer.kg.
  24. Perizat Saitburkhan, journalist.
  25. Adil Turdukulov, TV Academy.
  26. Elena Bayalinova, media expert.
  27. Gulshayir Abdirasulova, Kylym Shamy human rights center.