April 06, 2022
On March 3, 2022, Kyrgyz security service officers detained Taalaibek Duishenbiyev, director of Next TV, on charges of inciting ethnic hatred. On the same day, the authorities sealed the premises of the Next TV, and banned its radio and television broadcasting.
Ravshan Jeenbekov, the founder of Next TV told Freedom for Eurasia that the new persecution began after the publication on Instagram of a post in which it was reported that Kyrgyzstan expressed its readiness to provide military assistance to Russia in Ukraine. In a message on Instagram, Next TV quotes the former head of the National Security Committee Kazakhstan A. Musayev, with reference to the Ukrainian news outlet Ukraine Now, which published the former head of the Kazakh special services comment.
This Instagram post was used by Kyrgyz authorities as pretext for pressing charges against Next TV director Taalaibek Duishenbiyev under Article 330.2 of the Criminal Code (Incitement of racial, ethnic, national, religious interregional hatred (discord)). The criminal case provides for punishment from five to seven years of imprisonment. Currently, Duishenbiyev is detained until May 03, 2022.
March 22, 2022, the prosecutor’s office provided representatives of Next TV with a copy of the decree signed by the Deputy Prosecutor General K. Toktakunov in which the post was recognized as extremist.
In recent months, Kyrgyzstan has been engaged in intensive practice of initiating criminal cases against media workers and encroaching on press freedom. On January 22, 2022, journalists Bolot Temirov and akyn improviser Bolot Nazarov were arrested and harassed.
On February 01, 2022, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Pervomaisky District of Bishkek opened a criminal case against Kaktus.media under Article 407 “Propaganda of war, dissemination in any form of views, ideas or appeals with the aim of provoking aggression of one country against another or unleashing a military conflict” of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Kyrgyz authorities should immediately drop the criminal charges, release Duishenbiyev, and stop obstructing Next TV’s work. Both Kyrgyz and international audiences must have access to free media that publish independent and objective material, especially in the context of dangerous propaganda disseminated by pro-Kremlin channels.
On April 1, 2022, the Kyrgyz security services of GKNB summoned Next TV’s social media manager Aisuluu Kudaiberdiyeva and Azat Jeenbekov, Ravshan Jeenbekov’s son, for questioning. Subsequently, Azat, who works and lives in the United States, was forbidden to leave Kyrgyzstan. Ravshan Jeenbekov said that actions of GKNB against these two individuals should be seen as suppressing the free press, intimidation of representatives of free media, their associates and their relatives.
28 March 2022 Pervomaisky District Court of Bishkek began considering a petition from the Prosecutor General’s Office to stop broadcasting the Next TV channel in Kyrgyzstan. During the hearing Ravshan Jeenbekov was expelled from the court room for demanding trial open to public. This is not the first time Ravshan Jeenbekov is facing persecution. He faced fabricated charges since 2019 and was held in SIZO‑1. Ravshan Jeenbekov can not leave Kyrgyzstan and is still facing criminal charges.
NEXT TV is an independent media outlet operating in Kyrgyzstan since 2003. It is known for providing its audience with independent reporting шт Kyrgyz and Russian and viewpoints that differ from the official versions of the authorities. They regularly report on politics, corruption, human rights and democracy.