World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Kazakhstan, 28 April 2014

Protest Campaign - Kazakhstan, 28 April 2014

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His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev
President of Kazakhstan

His Excellency Ambassador Nourlan Danenova,
Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in France
59, rue Pierre Charron
75008 Paris

Fax: 01 45 61 52 01


28 April 2014


Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the closure of the Assandi Times.

According to reports, on 21 April a court in Almaty ordered the closure of the Assandi Times, one of Kazakhstan’s few remaining independent newspapers. The court ruled that the weekly should cease publication as it was a part of Respublika –a group of 8 newspapers and 23 websites – that was banned in December 2012 for “inciting social discord” and promoting “the violent overthrow of the government”.

The Assandi Times was only informed of the case against it on 2 April, when court bailiffs came to the newspaper’s office and confiscated hard copies of the paper. They cited a court order issued the previous day, of which the Assandi Times had no notice, that suspended publication of the paper.

At a hearing on 15 April, the prosecution claimed that several journalists who had worked for Respublika then worked for the Assandi Times, that the Assandi Times’ editorial board has several members in common with the former Respublika editorial board, and that several of the same articles had been published in both newspapers. None of this violates the law and the prosecutor did not present any evidence of wrongdoing.

We are seriously concerned that the closure of the Assandi Times is part of a systematic campaign to silence critical media. In recent months, several other newspapers have been suspended or closed down, including Pravdivaya Gazeta, reporters have been prevented from covering protests and Assandi Times journalist Natalya Sadykova has been harassed by the authorities and charged with criminal libel. She denies writing the offending article and has fled the country.

This campaign of intimidation coincides with your government’s proposals to widen the scope of press offences and increase penalties for transgressions in the draft new criminal code.

We respectfully remind you that the closure of the Assandi Times and other acts of intimidation of the press constitute a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.'

We respectfully call on you to ensure that the closure orders on the Assandi Times, Respublika and other independent publications are lifted immediately and that your government reverses its policy of destroying the independent press. We remind you that your country would be stronger with increased accountability and greater public scrutiny.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Yours sincerely,


Tomas Brunegård
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum



WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2014-04-28 16:33

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...