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Kazakhstan parliament makes second bid to pass restrictive media legislation

[JURIST] Kazakhstan's parliament [official website, English version] has approved legislation that would subject the news media to more state control. It will not take effect unless signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev [official website, English version], who vetoed a similar law [RFE report; US statement] in 2004. The new legislation provides for high administrative fines and registration fees for media organizations, according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) [organization website].

The United States and OSCE have criticized the bill as threatening the freedom of the press in the Central Asian nation, which has been ruled by the recently-re-elected [JURIST report] Nazarbayev since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Earlier this month, OSCE's representative on freedom of the media asked the Kazakh minister of culture and information [OSCE press release] to withdraw the proposed media law amendments. "[I]t is against international democratic standards for the Government to define which press outlets are trusted by the public, or to decide on the right number of outlets," said the OSCE representative, Miklos Haraszti. Reuters has more.

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