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Kyrgyzstan Bans Foreign Media Broadcasts During Campaign

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's new ban on foreign-media broadcasts in the country during the presidential-election campaign has caused mixed reactions, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The recently adopted election law makes live broadcasting into Kyrgyzstan by foreign media outlets illegal from September 25 until the election on October 30. If a runoff were to be held two weeks later then the ban would be extended.

Tattu Mambetalieva, chairwoman of Bishkek-based Internet's Civil Initiative, told RFE/RL on September 26 that the law violates Kyrgyz citizens' right to receive and share information.

She said it is technically impossible to broadcast all international media programs in a recorded format. "For that we need significant financial resources, which we do not have."

Marat Tokoev, chairman of the nongovernmental organization Journalists, told RFE/RL that the temporary ban of live broadcasts by foreign TV and radio stations could be defined as censorship.

He said the law was adopted hastily and might cause protests by people who have no access to satellites.

Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party and former presidential candidate, Omurbek Tekebaev, told RFE/RL that the law was adopted properly and its main goal is to prevent interference by foreign countries and governments in the election process.

Tekebaev said that during last year's parliamentary elections a Russian television channel was promoting one Kyrgyz political party while denigrating others.

Parliament deputy Irina Karamushkina told journalists on September 26 that while more than 60 foreign television and radio corporations stopped broadcasting live to Kyrgyzstan as of September 25, nothing has been done to control the Internet or satellite televisions.

She said a special parliamentary commission has to be established in order to gain full control of the situation.

Read more in Kyrgyz here

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