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Kazakh Senate Approves Controversial Broadcast Law

ASTANA -- Kazakh media NGOs and international experts say that country's new broadcast law would put restrictions on the freedom of information, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The draft law -- initiated by the Communications and Information Ministry and passed by the Senate on December 28 -- has been sent to President Nursultan Nazarbaev for final approval.

It requires all foreign television and radio stations to be fully registered with an official Kazakh entity and that 50 percent of the broadcasts of foreign channels consist of domestic content by 2018.

The Kazakh human rights organization Adil Soz, the National Association of Kazakh Broadcasters, and the NGO Internews-Kazakhstan wrote a letter to Nazarbaev requesting that he postpone adopting the law until after parliamentary elections scheduled for January 15.

The letter was signed by some 40 Kazakh media NGOs and it expressed concern about media restrictions within the draft law.

Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, also expressed concern about the legislation in a statement issued on December 28.

She said the draft law would violate the rights of citizens to freely receive and impart information and it increases state control over the electronic media.

The statement also noted that the recommendations made to the Kazakh government and parliament members by the OSCE and Kazakh civil society organizations during the last several months were not considered in the final writing of the legislation.

Mijatovic sent a letter to the Kazakh Foreign Ministry on December 12 in which she called on Nazarbaev to veto the draft law.

Read more in Kazakh here and in Russian here