Kyrgyzstan: Revolution Revisited
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Elvira Sarieva
Managing Director,
Internews Kyrgyzstan

"[T]here were three key promises made by the acting president [now President Kurmanbek Bakiyev] when he was a candidate for election.

[The first promise was] transparency in the distribution of frequency waves among TV and radio companies, because over 30 companies have now been queuing for a couple of years [to receive a frequency], This issue has not been solved. The second promise was to change the national [TV and radio] corporation [KTR] into a public station, which would be the beginning of something new. Everyone is now waiting for the political will of the president because the parliament has passed the law [about the public television reform], but it is important [to know] whether the law would be supported or vetoed by the president. The third issue is probably the key promise about decriminalizing libel. Not so long ago, Justice Minister Marat Kaiypov said that [President] Bakiyev referred the [proposed] changes to parliament, but parliament has not considered them yet. Therefore, if we talk about a system, then there are no practical steps, only some promises.

On the reform of KTR, civil society [including Internews] worked very actively. . . [For example,] of the ten demands put forward by the opposition and political parties [in April 2006 to President Bakiyev], one of the demands was reforming KTR. This is a key issue and all the NGOs supported reform of KTR . . .And about the frequencies, they are ready to discuss it. It is interesting that [Security Council Chairman] Miroslav Niyazov supported the idea that the state commission on frequencies distribution should include a commission made up of members of civil society. [This commission] then could say 'Yes, this channel worked for five years and satisfied the needs of the population and this channel needs to continue its work' or some other things in relation to content regulations. [C]ivil society sent their proposal, but for now it is all quiet."

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