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Press Freedom News and Views

Nina Ognianova

Nina Ognianova is coordinator of CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program. A native of Bulgaria, Ognianova has led CPJ advocacy missions to Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.

2010



CPJ's Ognianova, center, leads a briefing Tuesday in Vienna. With her are, left, Anthony Mills of the International Press Institute and CPJ's Jean-Paul Marthoz. (CPJ)

Kazakhstan is ready to bring its press laws in line with international standards, a top diplomat told a CPJ delegation in Vienna this week. Decriminalizing libel, placing caps on defamation awards, and enacting access-to-information legislation are on the government's agenda, said Kazakhstan Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, who is chairman of the permanent council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

CPJ was turned away from visiting journalist Ramazan Yesergepov in this prison colony in Taraz, Kazakhstan. (Nina Ognianova/CPJ)On June 3, I took a six-hour-long drive from Almaty to Taraz with local press freedom advocate Rozlana Taukina and two family members of imprisoned editor Ramazan Yesergepov to visit him. Yesergepov has been a long-term case for CPJ. In November 2008, he published two internal Kazakh security service (KNB) memos in his now-defunct newspaper, Alma-Ata Info, which attested to the KNB’s attempts to influence a prosecutor and a judge in a criminal tax evasion case.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, left, and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a November economic conference. (AP/Sergei Grits)

Belarus has been termed Europe’s last dictatorship because of its long intolerance of dissent and press freedom. So accustomed is the world to the clampdowns of President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime that neither a recently issued decree on Internet access, which requires that providers record users’ personal data, nor last week’s police raids at a number of independent news offices, came as much of a surprise to anyone. “Belarus—reliably repressive” would be the country’s bumper sticker were press freedom groups to make one.

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