Kazakhstan authorities to ban unofficial information in media
11.09.12 17:11 By Zhanna Ulyanova, edited by Karina Ayvazova
The new initiative comes after series of emergency situations in Kazakhstan, including an earthquake and terror acts Photo: ITAR-TASS
The authorities of the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan are setting new rules for warning the population through media in case of emergencies. At a governmental meeting on Tuesday the state's culture minister, Darkhan Mynbai, said that his ministry "is taking measures to ban alternative information via TV, newspapers and the Internet."
The Culture Ministry will agree with state-run media to ban "unofficial" sources of "negative interpretation of official information" during emergency situations.
Mynbai says that "it is impossible to publish information which casts doubts on official data, competence of a speaker, or urges people to do something."
The minister admitted that it would be much more difficult to agree on this issue with independent media, which are mostly controlled by the tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is currently hiding from Kazakh authorities in London.
The new initiative is explained by the fact that media sources in Kazakhstan are, from now on, tools for warning the population during emergencies so "no rumors are allowed."
"People will only get official information, confirmed by state officials or institutions. This information will be handed over to state-run media," Mynbai said.
"The ban on using unofficial sources is explained to us by the reform of the emergency situations ministry, at least that is what we are told," Oksana Okushko from the independent newspaper "Republic" said to Gazeta.ru. The ban is partly caused by recent news reports from when earthquakes hit in 2011 and about the workers who were killed in Zhanaozen."
Okushko recalls that the editors of the newspaper tried to receive official information on May 1, 2011 about the earthquake which hit the country. "Anxiety could then be felt on the social networks and in the streets. We called everyone who could give us some official data, but the authorities informed people about what had happened only in the evening," Okushko recalls. "By that time people had left their homes with their stuff because there were rumors about new waves of earthquakes."
Kazakh human rights defenders think that the new initiative to ban unofficial information about emergency situations in media might even worsen panic.
"The lack of alternative information will lead to awful rumors which are not impossible for media," Tamara Kaleeva from "Adil soz" human rights watchdog. "This new law will lead to even more exaggerated rumors and panic."
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