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13 Sep 2023

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Kyrgyzstan: Independent website Kloop blocked amid govt's pressure on free speech & independent media

Independent Kloop website blocked in Kyrgyzstan amid government pressure, 13 September 2023

The independent Kloop website has been blocked in Kyrgyzstan amid ongoing pressure on the website's owner, the Kloop Media Public Foundation, further raising fears that officials are curbing rights to free speech and an independent media.

Kloop said...that several providers in the Central Asian nation had blocked its website just two weeks after the Bishkek city Prosecutor's Office initiated legal proceedings against the Kloop Media Public Foundation to suspend its work in Kyrgyzstan because of the critical coverage of the government by its media outlet.

The Culture Ministry also had demanded Kloop remove an article about the alleged torture of jailed opposition politician Ravshan Jeenbekov.

On September 12, Kloop published an article refusing to remove the material, saying that the story in question attributed all information about the situation faced by Jeenbekov while in custody to actual individuals and sources.

Kloop said at the time it was officially informed of the lawsuit against it that the move was taken after an audit by the State Committee for National Security (UKMK) determined its "published materials are aimed at sharply criticizing the policies of the current government" and that "most of the publications are purely negative, aimed at discrediting representatives of state and municipal bodies."

Established in June 2007, Kloop is a Kyrgyz news website most of whose contributors are students and graduates of the Kloop Media Public Foundation School of Journalism. As an independent media entity, it is known for publishing reports on corruption within various governmental bodies and providing training to Central Asian journalists in fact-checking and investigative techniques.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Kloop, and the Center for Corruption and Organized Crime Research (OCCRP) have collaborated on a series of investigations concerning corruption in the former Soviet republic.

Kyrgyzstan's civil society and free press have traditionally been the most vibrant in Central Asia. But that has changed amid a deepening government crackdown...