On December 20, 2017, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) lost Kazakh Service colleague and friend Rakhat Mamyrbek, 39, web editor for the Almaty bureau. Mamyrbek was hospitalized after having a stroke on December 11.
Mamyrbek joined the bureau in 2010, quickly assuming a leading role in the Service’s digital transformation. His style of webification and text editing set a standard for online journalism. In 2015, he was the first host of AzattyqLIVE, the Service’s first internet TV show.
Prior to joining RFE/RL, Mamyrbek made his reputation as a columnist and editor, gaining distinction and popularity through radio and TV shows on Qazaqstan, KTK, Almaty, and Channel 31. He is remembered for numerous courageous, first-hand reports, including his field work during the Kyzyl-Agash tragedy in the Almaty region in 2010, when the local dam burst, flooding the village and killing 43 people.
In a tribute to Mamyrbek, Chief Digital Editor of the Kazakh Service Galym Bokash said that he “raised corruption issues using his excellent sense of humor and irony. We will remember him as a gifted journalist and bighearted person.”
The Kazakh Service, known locally as Radio Azattyq, has received hundreds of messages from viewers offering condolences to RFE/RL and Mamyrbek's family.
He left behind his wife and five children.