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Nazarbaeva Reelected Head Of Kazakh Journalists Union

Darigha Nazarbaeva in Vienna in September (OSCE) ASTANA, December 12, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's Congress of Journalists today reelected President Nursultan Nazarbaev's eldest daughter, Darigha Nazarbaeva, as its chairwoman for another year, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Addressing a news briefing after the vote, Nazarbaeva said she had "another whole year" to defend the interests of the media community.

Nazarbaeva has been fighting government-sponsored draft changes to Kazakhstan's media law that, if adopted, would significantly reduce the number of press outlets by tightening registration procedures.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has voiced concern at the proposed changes, saying they threaten to impede independent journalism.

While supporting her country's bid to chair the OSCE in 2009, Nazarbaeva today backed the organization in its criticism of the Kazakh government's media policy.

"The government's eagerness to focus on its own interests while ignoring those [of journalists] and its attempts at restricting our rights from year to year will never bring any good," she said. "[Kazakhstan is] seeking to chair the OSCE. But [the OSCE is] asking us: 'Why did you adopt those amendments to your media law? Where are you heading?' And that is probably the toughest question they're asking us."

The proposals have been approved by the two chambers of Kazakh parliament, but not by the president.

Nazarbaeva today said her association had drafted an alternative draft media bill and that it is planning to send it to parliament for examination in January.

(with material from Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

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