Statement of the Independent Journalists Union of Kyrgyzstan
Recently, it has become increasingly difficult for non-state media to play the role of the fourth estate. Independence, as it turned out, is very expensive.
This significance of the recent decisions of the courts on multimillion claims from the Prosecutor General in defense of the honor of the President of the country, which is fully satisfied the demands in favor of the head of state.
The decision was made to collect 24 million soms from the site Zanoza.kg and its founders Narynbek Idinov and Dina Maslova, as well as 3 million soms from the ex-deputy and director of the legal clinic Adilet, Cholpon Dzhakupova. At the same time, courts have ignored repeated appeals to the society of proportionality and reasonableness in setting the amount of compensation for moral harm.
This can be regarded as an attempt to close an independent online publication by any means and deprive it of the opportunity to provide the public with alternative information about what is happening in Kyrgyzstan before the upcoming presidential elections, since the Zanoza.kg will not stand such a tough unreasonable financial pressure and will most likely be forced to stop activity.
Considering that the millionth claim is also filed by the SDPK (pro-government party) against "24.kg", such actions look like a desire to crack down on all non-loyal information publications.
Such lawsuits against the media and such hasty judgments not only contradict the principle of freedom of expression laid down in the Constitution, but also harm our society, they damage the image of the state as a democratic country where the values of freedom of speech are respected.
The Independent Union of Kyrgyzstan Journalists, on the one hand, welcomes the President's decision to withdraw the lawsuits against the establishment of Azattyk Media.
On the other hand, the decisions of the first instances on Zanoza.kg have exposed the failures in the judicial reform carried out.
In this regard, we express the hope that the mind and law will prevail over emotions, and the following judicial instances will make a fair and balanced decision in relation to the site Zanoza.kg.
The media should not bear such an unreasonably high material responsibility for their professional activities.
Moreover, all citizens of Kyrgyzstan should have alternative opinions and assessments, be able to speak and to be heard without any censorship.