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Seven RFE/RL Journalists Denied Accreditation To Cover Kazakh Presidential Vote


Interim Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev is seen on an electronic election billboard.
Interim Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev is seen on an electronic election billboard.

Seven RFE/RL reporters from the Czech Republic, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan have been denied accreditation to cover the snap presidential election in Kazakhstan on June 9.

Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Aibek Smadiyarov informed RFE/RL on June 8 that the ministry had denied accreditation for the RFE/RL reporters, without giving any explanation.

Smadiyarov warned that the applicants should not do any journalistic work on election day.

The refused journalists have already arrived in Kazakhstan.

The decision does not affect journalists working for RFE/RL's Kazakh Service who are already in the country.

On April 23, RFE/RL submitted the applications and documents for seven journalists from RFE/RL's Kyrgyz and Tajik services and Current Time, a project led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, who planned to report from Kazakhstan.

The ministry also refused accreditation to another group of RFE/RL journalists -- six journalists in Prague, Moscow, and Kyiv -- who planned to report from the Kazakh embassies in those cities.

"The elections in Kazakhstan have enormous news value for RFE/RL audiences throughout Central Asia and beyond," said RFE/RL acting President Daisy Sindelar. "The move by Kazakh authorities to muzzle our journalists on the eve of the elections is deeply regrettable, and a chilling signal regarding their stance on a free press."

The ministry said those journalists were denied accreditation because the documents were filed five hours late on June 3.

Kazakhstan is holding a presidential election because former President Nursultan Nazarbaev resigned on March 19 after almost 30 years in power.

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