A Kyrgyz court has ordered the closure of private TV channel Sentyabr (September), known for its public criticism of President Almazbek Atambaev, having ruled it broadcast extremist content. According to RFE/RL, the Birinchi Mai District Court in Bishkek ordered the television channel to cease operations both online and on air.
The controversial content in question centres around the airing of an interview with the former chief of police in the southern Osh region, Abdylda Kaparov, that insulted the then Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov and his bother, Asylbek Jeenbekov. In the interview, Kaparov alleged that the brothers may have fraudulently used $3m in state funds to spark fatal ethnic clashes in Osh between Uzbeks and Kyrgyzstanis in 2010.
The recent announcement from the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General’s Office raises yet more concerns over growing media censorship in the region. In early 2016, Tajikistan brought in new, stringent amendments to the country’s media law, that Tajik media organisations equated to “legalising censorship in the country”. Meanwhile, earlier this month the Director General of the Uzbek Press and Information Agency (UzAPI) announced that his department will begin a crackdown on private publishing houses and independent media outlets, which he argues violate laws, disregard national values and sully the reputation of journalism for the sake of profits.
Despite growing censorship concerns among local media outlets, the BBC announced earlier this month that it plans to restart its operations in Uzbekistan after a period of 12 years, a sign that tensions could be easing between the Uzbek government and the international media.