Kazakhstan Political Orientation
Government Type: Republic under Authoritarian Presidential Rule
Leader: President Kassym-Jomart K. Tokayev
Prime Minister: Älihan Ashanuly Smaiylov
Political Party: Amanat (Nur Otan)
Political Position: Big Tent (Kazakh Nationalism)
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 34.44 – Limited Freedom
World Press Freedom Rank: Kazakhstan 134/180
According to Reporters Without Borders, the quality of online news in Kazakhstan improved, but despite these positive developments, growing control of the internet threatens independent press and freedom of expression.
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
Nursultan Nazarbayev ruled Kazakhstan for 30 years without any opposition; however, he stepped down (unexpectedly) and handpicked Tokayev to replace him as president in 2019. He stated that he would retain “the chairman position of the nation’s Security Council and the head of the ruling party.” After protests against Nazarbayev left 225 people dead, President Tokayev sidelined Nazarbayev and became party chair, distancing himself from the former president.
President Tokayev undertook some reforms welcomed by the West, including decriminalizing defamation; however, in May 2022, he signed a controversial law “Aiming to Control Social Media Companies” under the pretext of protecting children.
In Kazakhstan, state or government-affiliated media companies own most media, and therefore the state dominates the media landscape. For example, Caravan (Karavan) is a leading newspaper owned by former President Nazarbayev’s private foundation. He also owns television channels either directly or through family members, such as KTK TV being run by his foundation “Elbasy.” Another popular TV channel, NTK, is owned directly by a Nazarbayev family member. Another example is Egemen Kazakhstan and KazPravda, both run by the government.
The Government also provides funding for pro-government media outlets by financing Khabar and Qazaqstan. When it comes to online news, the Government owns Kazinform.kz., Bnews.kz, and 24.kz., which is owned by the state’s Khabar Agency. The government also has control over online media content by shutting down social media when they deem it necessary. For example, during nationwide protests in 2022, the Government blocked web pages and social media content and detained journalists.
In summary, compared to neighboring Turkmenistan, alternative media still can be found In Kazakhstan, such as Nasha Gazeta. However, the government is tightening its control over social media resulting in the government controlling the media directly and indirectly since it owns, funds, and regulates most TV stations and print media. Therefore, the media of Kazakhistan faces a lack of press freedom and censorship at the hands of the government.
Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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