Tag Archives: media

Turkish media company takes over running of Azerbaijani lottery

FEB. 27 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkey’s Demiroren Holding, best known for its Turkish media business that includes the Hurriyet newspaper and CNN Turk, has taken over the running of Azerbaijan’s national lottery for at least the next decade, media reported. Turkish businesses have been moving into Azerbaijan heavily over the past three or four months, since Turkey helped Azerbaijan defeat Armenia for control of Nagorno-Karabakh.


— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

24-hour news channel to be set up in Uzbekistan

MAY 5 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Uzbekistan will start broadcasting its own 24 news channel, the gazeta.uz news website reported by quoting a presidential decree. It’s not clear if Ozbeksitan-24 will broadcast in Russian or Uzbek or both, but the channel’s ambitions are clear as it will have a staff of over 250 journalists, including its own foreign correspondents. Pres. Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been critical of Uzbek state TV news coverage in the past, calling it boring.


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(News report from Issue No. 327, published on May 5 2017)

Kazakh presenter resigns after fake news

DEC. 20 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Ruslan Smykov, a presenter with the Kazakh TV news channel First Channel Eurasia, resigned after he broadcast a fake news interview with a Russian TV host. It’s unclear why Mr Smykov broadcast the fake interview but the incident does highlight the weak editorial control in the Kazakh media.


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(News report from Issue No. 310, published on Dec. 23 2016)

Trial of journalists begins in Kazakhstan

AUG. 21 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — The trial of Seitkazy Matayev, head of Kazakhstan’s journalist union and his son, Asset, for embezzlement began. Mr Matayev had been the first press secretary to President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1991 and he had been presumed to be above a crackdown on the media this year.


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(News report from Issue No. 293, published on Aug. 29 2016)

Kazakh court extends journalists detention

JULY 28 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — A court in Almaty extended the pre- trial house arrest by two months of Seitkazy Matayev, one of Kazakhstan’s most prominent journalists, and his son Asset. The Matayevs are accused of embezzlement and abuse of trust. In May, the prosecutor reduced his charges against Seitkazy Matayev, who continues to deny the accusations. Human rights groups have accused Kazakhstan of a systematic crackdown on its media.


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(News report from Issue No. 291, published on Aug. 1 2016)

Azerbaijan closes TV station after it tried to broadcast Gulen interview

JULY 18 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — The authorities in Azerbaijan suspended the Azerbaijani News Service (ANS), a popular privately owned TV station, after it said it would broadcast an interview it had taken in the US with Fathullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of masterminding a coup attempt.

Azerbaijan’s National Council for Television and Radio called the interview “propaganda” aimed at “undermining the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Turkey”. It immediately suspended ANS’s licence for one month and also took action to rescind it permanently.

Western governments have previously accused the Azerbaijani authorities of cracking down on any media considered even vaguely awkward. In 2015, it expelled the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Seen as mildly pro-government, over the past few years ANS has exercised a degree of independence and, until now, it was not affected by the government-led crackdown against dissenting media outlets.

Kenan Aliyev, an Azerbaijani journalist and former director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani Service, called ANS’s closure despicable.

“ANS will suffer for a month and later they will be allowed to work but with less independence and more self-censorship,” Mr Aliyev told The Conway Bulletin. “There is no free press under the current regime.”

Mr Gulen is a former ally of Mr Erdogan. He has denied any link to the July 15 failed coup attempt. Azerbaijan and Turkey are close allies and, following Turkey’s lead, Azerbaijan has cracked down on institutions and officials with Gulen links, including stripping the Qafkas University in Baku of its independence.


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(News report from Issue No. 290, published on July 22 2016)

Kazakh court fines opposition newspaper

ALMATY, JULY 12 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — In a case that media freedom lobbyists say shows how Kazakhstan is muzzling independent media, a court in Almaty ordered the opposition newspaper Tribuna/ Ashyk Alan to pay 5m tenge ($14,836) in damages to government official Sultanbek Syzdykov after it described him as corrupt for stealing 23m tenge ($68,249) from the budget of the 2011 Asian Games.

Although police launched an investigation into Mr Syzdykov, the court ruled that the newspaper could not describe him as corrupt because he had repaid the amount he had stolen.

Denis Krivosheyev, the Tribuna journalist who wrote the story, said that the verdict was nonsense.

“This government official was convicted of corruption,” he told reporters outside the court. “It is a fact that no one denies.”

Western government and media freedom groups have accused Kazakhstan of cracking down on free speech. Earlier this year, Guzyal Baidalinova, editor of the opposition Nakanune.kz website, was convicted of slander against Kazkommertsbank, Kazakhstan’s largest bank. She was released from prison, also on July 12, although her guilty sentence remains.

The government has cracked down on the media this year, partly as a reaction to a worsening eco- nomic outlook and to increasing unrest in the country.

Yermurat Bapi, a trustee of the journalists’ union in Kazakhstan told The Conway Bulletin that the media environment was worsening.

“This authoritarian system that was developed over 15 to 20 years has become obsolete, it is dying and with its last gasp is trying to preserve and protect itself through bans, persecutions and the courts,” he said.


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(News report from Issue No. 289, published on July 15 2016)

Azerbaijan jails journalist

JULY 1 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — A court in Azerbaijan sentenced Fikret Faramazoglu, editor of theinvestgiative jam.az newspaper, to three months in jail for extortion. Jam.az reports on court cases involving government officials, with a focus on the national security department. Media lobby groups say the charges are false.


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(News report from Issue No. 288, published on July 8 2016)


Newspaper risks closure in Azerbaijan

JUNE 14 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – The editors of Azadlig, an opposition newspaper in Azerbaijan, said they had received a letter from their publisher that warned of a possible closure by the end of the month. Azadlig, which means freedom, has to pay an outstanding debt of around 18,000 manat ($12,500) by June 27. Azadlig editors said that the state-owned press agency owes the newspaper around 70,000 manat ($46,000) and that this is an attempt to silence opposition voices.


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(News report from Issue No. 285, published on June 17 2016)


Khadija Ismayilova: Investigative journalist

MAY 27 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Beaming from ear to ear, Khadija Ismayilova blinked and smiled. It was Wednesday and Ms Ismayilova’s first taste of freedom after 537 days in prison for charges that she and her supporters have said were politically motivated.

In those 537 days, Ms Ismayilova has been transformed from a journalist known locally for her hard-hitting investigative reports that exposed corrupt schemes linked to President Ilham Aliyev to the international face of the fight for freedom of speech in Azerbaijan.

Her resilience and determination not to back down under intense pressure from the government and other dark forces, including a series of blackmail threats in 2012 linked to sex tapes made of her, won her many admirers in the West.

John McCain, a former US presidential candidate, was among the high- profile list of politicians from around the world who have been campaigning for Ms Ismayilova’s release.

After she was freed he said: “Khadija has played a critical role in uncovering government corruption and holding authorities accountable, and her commitment to freedom of the press and human rights serves as an inspiration for journalists everywhere.”

And this work has been recognised by a string of institutions who have given Ms Ismayilova various awards including the prestigious PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the Anna Politkovskaya Award. Both these awards are for reporters who focus on anti-corruption issues and human rights.

And Ms Ismayilova, who turns 40 on May 27, has already said that she plans to continue her work, despite the dangers.

“Regarding my plans for journalism, I am going to continue my investigations,” she said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio

Liberty. “There is always a lot of work to do in a country like Azerbaijan where corruption is on such a massive scale.”

In Ms Ismayilova, President Aliyev and his cohort of supporters have found a dogged and determined anti-corruption opponent.


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(News report from Issue No. 282, published on May 27 2016)