Kyrgyzstan to switch off foreign TV channels for elections

Kyrgyzstan to switch off foreign TV channels for elections

In connection with the presidential election scheduled in Kyrgyzstan for October 30, cable television companies and the state enterprise Kyrgyztelecom from September 25 will stop the retransmission of foreign channels, including Russia's Channel One and RTR, representatives of these companies said at a press conference here on Thursday. The Russian television broadcast will be resumed on October 30, Itar-Tass reported.

Campaigning of the main contenders for the main political office for which 25 people are vying, according to the latest reports, will begin on September 25. According to local laws, foreign media have no right to participate in this process.

"There are several reasons why we had to accept the decision," explained representative of the Ala-TV cable company Vasily Goncharov. "By law, we must record all programs of foreign TV channels, filter them for campaigning for any of the candidates, to remove such fragments and then release the recorded programs, but we just do not have such equipment." In addition, the company has no professionals who "could keep track of the content." "Above all, under contract with foreign channels, we have no right to make changes to their programs," Goncharov said.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan's cable TV companies are facing economic sanctions for switching off foreign channels.

Representative of the Association of Communications Operators of mKyrgyzstan Dzhyrgalbek Kasymov said that the country's cable television companies have already turned to the Constitutional Chamber with a request to recognise as illegal the situation that violates people's right to free access to information. Several days ago, a similar appeal was sent to the Central Election Commission (CEC) from where it was redirected to the parliament. However, the MPs have still given no answer to this request, he said.

At the same time, according to experts, the people of Kyrgyzstan during this period will be able to watch foreign TV channels by satellite television and on the Internet, and the authorities have no technical capability to deprive them of this opportunity.

Upcoming presidential election in Kyrgyzstan will be an important stage, and its result will favour consolidation of the society and further stabilisation of the situation, Head of Russia's Presidential Administration Sergei Naryshkin earlier at the official ceremony of celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan's independence (Aug 30). "Our country has always respected the choice made by Kyrgyzstan in August of 1991," he said. For all these years, Russia strived to strengthen ties with Kyrgyzstan, including those in the economy.

"It is most important, that over all this time, relations between Russians and Kyrgyz have remained those of good neighbourhood," Naryshkin said. "Russia is interested in Kyrgyzstan's stable and dynamic development towards statehood, raise of the national economy and development of the social sphere." Russia and Kyrgyzstan have prepared an agreement on
cooperation in energy, oil and gas and on supplies of oil products from Russia, he added.

Naryshkin arrived in Kyrgyzstan to participate in the official ceremony of celebrating declaration of the republic's independence. In Bishkek, he had meetings with the country's President Roza Otunbayeva and Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev.

The early presidential election will be held in Kyrgyzstan on 30 October 2011. The election follows the 2010 Kyrgyzstan riots, during which the incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted by protesters and an interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva was formed. An election and reform plan was unveiled on 19 April 2010. However, Ata-Zhurt, which backed Bakiyev, won a plurality in the Kyrgyzstan parliamentary election, 2010 amid a platform of rolling back constitutional changes enacted by the interim administration.

The incumbent Otunbayeva has stated she will not run in the election.

Under the new constitution, the presidential term is six years long, but barred from re-election.

The election date was announced on 22 April 2010; a constitutional referendum to reduce presidential powers and strengthen democracy was held on 27 June 2010.

On 19 May 2010, it was announced that the presidential elections would not be held on 10 October 2010 together with parliamentary elections, but rather in October 2011, and that Otunbayeva would remain president until 31 December 2011.

Eighty-three candidates filed to run in the election by the deadline of 16 August 2011. Sixteen candidates were nominated by parties, while the rest self-nominated. The candidates will have to collect 30,000 signatures, pay a fee of 100,000 Kyrgyzstan soms and pass a televised language test.

Notable candidates include: Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, party leader of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan; former Emergency Situations Minister Kamchybek Tashiyev, party leader of Ata-Zhurt; Omurbek Tekebayev, party leader of the opposition Ata Meken Socialist Party; former Prosecutor-General Kubatbek Baibolov; former Supreme Court chief Kurmanbek Osmonov; former mayor of Bishkek Nariman Tuleyev; former parliamentary speaker Marat Sultanov; and former State Security Council Secretary Adakhan Madumarov.

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