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RFE/RL Radio, TV Broadcasts Taken Off The Air In Kyrgyzstan

"Inconvenient Questions," a TV program produced by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, known inside the country as Radio Azattyk
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have confirmed that RFE/RL radio and television broadcasts have been taken off the air.

"The suspension, which began on October 8, was initially portrayed as a payment dispute, but we have since traced the payments and confirmed deposit and receipt," RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said in a statement. "Nine weeks have passed. Our programs remain off the air. Kyrgyz officials have refused to meet with us to resolve the situation. Frankly, we expected more from a country trying to prove its reformist credentials in the region."

The director of state-owned UTRK, Melis Eshimkanov, gave his first public acknowledgement of RFE/RL's situation on December 6 after announcing the suspension of the BBC's local service, also on contractual grounds.

UTRK is the only nationwide Kyrgyz-language broadcaster in Kyrgyzstan and has long aired RFE/RL radio broadcasts and prime-time television programs.

RFE/RL said the move could be an indication that Krygyzstan's "brief experiment with pluralism may be ending."