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Kyrgyzstan loses positions in World Press Freedom Index 2017

The international non-governmental organization «Reporters Without Borders» has published the results of its annual World Press Freedom Index 2017, which assesses the situation with freedom of speech and media freedom in 180 countries.

According to the results of the study, Kyrgyzstan in 2016 took the 89th place (30.92 points), having lost 4 positions (85th place in 2015).

«The pluralism of the Kyrgyz media is exceptional in Central Asia but major challenges remain. The polarization of Kyrgyz society is reflected in the media and the environment for journalists. There is still a great deal of self-censorship on certain subjects, such as inter-ethnic relations, and concerns are mounting in the run-up to the November 2017 presidential election," the authors of the study stressed.

«In addition to his verbal attacks on critical media, President Almazbek Atambayev has also brought criminal defamation actions against some of them, seeking tens of thousands of euros in damages. Civil society has managed to block proposed draconian laws but the parliament has reintroduced prison sentences for certain media offenses and plans to limit foreign investment in the media and to impose a Russian-style ban on «homosexual propaganda," the study says.

The press freedom index in Kyrgyzstan remains the highest in the region. For example, Kazakhstan is ranked the 157th, Uzbekistan — 169th, and Tajikistan — 149th.

Russia, like in 2015, takes 148th place (49.45 points), the United States — 43rd.

The top five most press free countries are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The media of China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea are considered to be the most unfree.