The government of Kazakhstan maintains a system of state subsidies for mass media, under which authorities pay outlets to cover selected topics in a particular way. These subsidies keep many struggling outlets afloat in a challenging operating environment. But they also distort coverage and hinder the development of healthy competition.
Two days before her 40th birthday, Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison on May 25. Questions persist about the Azerbaijani government’s motivation for the release, and whether it portends a loosening of restrictions on civil liberties at home and improved relations with the United States and European Union.
Some Russian writers and independent journalists assert that incumbent Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is doing an excellent imitation of long-dead Soviet party boss Leonid Brezhnev, who presided over the country’s steady decline during a period known as the Stagnation Era.
A couple of election cycles ago, former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration engendered widespread public anger over what were deemed anti-democratic actions to muzzle critics and preserve its authority.
Just three months ago, Azerbaijan was playing host to the inaugural European Games. These days, it seems as though Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s administration is prepared to make a break with the European Union.
There is a bleak mood hanging over the editorial office of the Nakanune.kz website these days. The news site, which has won plaudits for its hard-hitting coverage in Kazakhstan’s beleaguered media environment, has run afoul of the country’s judicial system.
Officials in Kazakhstan and Russia contend a European court ruling sets a precedent that allows them to exercise even greater control over the Internet. Both are already notorious for press censorship and blocking critical websites.
Proposed changes to Moldova’s broadcast regulations are creating a free-speech conundrum. The amendments are primarily meant to counter propaganda from Kremlin-friendly Russian broadcast outlets, but they also could end up placing curbs on journalists’ ability to cover the Moldovan government.