08ASTANA1815, KAZAKHSTAN – WORKING GROUP SUBMITS RECOMMENDATIONS ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1815 2008-09-19 09:47 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO6669
OO RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #1815 2630947
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 190947Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3344
INFO RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ASTANA 001815 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM OSCE KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN - WORKING GROUP SUBMITS RECOMMENDATIONS ON 
MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS TO JUSTICE MINISTRY 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) The Information and Culture Ministry's working group on 
amendments to Kazakhstan's media law has forwarded a "concept" for 
the amendments and nine specific proposals to the Ministry of 
Justice for further action.  Two NGOs that participated in the 
working group complained to us that the nine proposals were all made 
by the government, and that the government rejected every proposal 
submitted by NGOs.  They further maintained that the nine proposals 
were largely superficial and technical, rather than substantive. 
End Summary. 
 
"Concept" Plus Nine Specific Proposals 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) The Information and Culture Ministry's working group on 
amendments to Kazakhstan's media law held its third session on 
September 17.  Representatives of several government agencies and 
six media-related NGOs -- including Adil Soz and Internews -- 
participated in the meeting.  At a follow on press conference, 
Information and Culture Ministry Executive Secretary Zhanna 
Kurmangaliyeva announced that the working group had reached a 
"consolidated position," agreeing on an overall "concept" for the 
media law amendments, as well as on nine specific proposals.  She 
said the "concept" and the specific proposals would be passed on to 
an inter-agency committee at the Ministry of Justice -- which will 
be responsible for drafting the actual package of legislative 
amendments. 
 
3. (U) The nine specific proposals that were agreed to cover a range 
of issues.  One would put plaintiffs and defendants on an equal 
legal footing in libel cases -- a change from current law under 
which a defendant must prove that an allegedly libelous false story 
is actually true.  A second would eliminate a requirement that a 
media outlet re-register when it changes its office address or 
replaces its editor-in-chief.  A third would annul a provision of 
current law requiring a journalist to obtain an interviewee's prior 
consent for audio or video recording of an interview.  Yet another 
proposal would provide additional means for journalists to appeal 
the refusal of public officials to respond to their queries. 
 
No "Consolidated Position" 
-------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) Adil Soz head Tamar Kaliyeva told us on September 18 that 
the "concept" for the amendments was a good one, but she rejected 
Kurmangaliyeva's characterization that the working group had 
achieved a "consolidated position."  She explained that the nine 
specific proposals that were agreed to were all made by the 
government, and that the government representatives had rejected 
every proposal made by NGOs -- including ones recommending (1) 
"automatic registration" of media outlets upon filing the necessary 
paperwork with the government; (2) lower registration fees; and (3) 
elimination of the bar on foreigners serving as editors-in-chief of 
media outlets. 
 
5. (SBU) Internews country director Oleg Katsiyev maintained to us 
on September 19 that the nine agreed-to proposals were largely 
superficial and technical, rather than substantive.  He complained 
that reporters did not publish his remarks at the September 17 press 
conference criticizing the results of the working group's efforts. 
While Kurmangaliyeva had promised that the working group would, in 
fact, continue to meet to discuss further recommendaions, Katsiyev 
was skeptical that this would be the case. 
 
6. (SBU) The OSCE was not invited to participate in the working 
group, and has not attended any of its three sessions.  OSCE Astana 
Political Officer Valeriu Chiveri told us on September 19 that the 
OSCE did, however, provide funds to Almaty-based Adil Soz and 
Internews so that they could travel to Astana for the meetings of 
the working group.  Chiveri said his office had not yet obtained a 
copy of the agreed-to "concept" and specific proposals, but hoped to 
in the coming days, and would subsequently meet with Adil Soz and 
Internews to discuss them. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
7. (SBU) We are not surprised that the proposals the government was 
willing to approve fell far short of what the leading NGOs wanted. 
Our focus should now shift to influencing the draft package of 
amendments that will come of the Justice Ministry's inter-agency 
committee -- ideally, in a coordinated effort with our like-minded 
European partners.  We should also press the government to agree to 
submit the draft package to ODIHR for analysis and review before the 
package is presented to parliament for consideration.  End Comment. 
 
 
MILAS

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