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Friday, March 24, 2023

The trial for unblocking the “Azattyka” site has been postponed until February 17

In the Administrative Court of Bishkek, the lawsuit of “Azattyk Media” to the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy to remove the blocking of the site was considered.

As the correspondent of “Azzatyka” reported, the lawyer asked permission to photograph and film the hearing, but the judge was allowed to film only the participants and listeners of the trial.

Moreover, the Ministry of Culture did not communicate to RFE/RL the initial decision to block the websites, which led to the postponement of the February 17 hearing.

The appeal of the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth to the court was announced on January 23. The agency points out that video material on the conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border is posted on social networks. The actions of “Azattyk Media”, according to the plaintiffs, contradict the requirements of the Law “On the Media”, according to Article 23, it is allowed to propagate war, violence and cruelty, national and religious exclusivity and intolerance towards other peoples and nations. On this basis, the Ministry of Culture asks the court to stop the activities of “Azattyka”.

RFE/RL Chairman and CEO Jamie Fly, commenting on the lawsuit, said the company will use all available legal means to preserve RFE/RL’s business in the country. “We reject the ongoing unlawful attacks on Radio ‘Azattyk’ and our independent reporting. We will continue to serve our loyal Kyrgyz audience regardless of any action taken by the government of Kyrgyzstan,” Fly said.

On October 26, 2022, the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth of Kyrgyzstan decided to block the “Azattyka” website. On October 31, the institution’s account in “Demirbank” was blocked without notice or warning. Before that, on October 23, “First Radio” stopped broadcasting “Azattyka”, arguing that this decision was due to technical reasons. On November 13, NTS stopped broadcasting the radio program “Azattyka”.

On December 26, it became known that the restrictions on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic have been extended. The ministry explained that this measure will be in effect until the material, due to which the decision to block was taken, is removed. The lawyers of “Azattyka” appealed to the Pervomaisky district court of the city of Bishkek to challenge this decision of the Ministry of Culture. The first hearing in this case is scheduled for January 26, 2023. However, the judge decided to postpone the trial to February 17.

From the first day of the blocking of its two sites, “Azattyk” expressed its disagreement with the decision, trying to prove that it was illegal. Earlier, the institution sent an administrative complaint to the ministry with a request to overturn the decision, which is “illegal and violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression”. But the ministry refused to satisfy her.

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