WASHINGTON – On a visit this week to Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly met with Kyrgyz Republic President Sadyr Japarov and Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev, representatives of independent news outlets, media freedom advocates, and journalism students, and spent time with RFE/RL`s local journalists to discuss the important role that RFE/RL`s journalism plays in supporting Kyrgyz democracy.
During his meetings, Fly expressed appreciation for the Kyrgyz government’s support for freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to operate in the country, noting the government’s willingness to accredit journalists covering the country and the region for several services, not least its Kyrgyz Service and Current Time digital network. He met with members of civil society and other Kyrgyz news organizations and discussed with government officials recent legislation that has raised concerns about possible encroachments on press freedom in Kyrgyzstan.
While meeting with President Japarov, Fly discussed the challenging situation facing journalists across much of Central Asia and the potential for Kyrgyzstan to play an even greater role in the region. During his meeting with Foreign Minister Kazakbaev, Fly spoke about RFE/RL plans to expand existing media projects and to create new projects serving not just the Kyrgyz Republic, but other audiences in the region. Fly also visited the American University of Central Asia, where he met with journalism students.
RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, is one of the most popular multimedia sources of independent news and information in Kyrgyzstan, reporting on topics that other media ignore, including minority rights, government corruption, and radicalism and extremism issues. The Service, which won the 2019 Tom Renner Award for its groundbreaking multipart investigative report Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia, has averaged over 4.3 million page views per month over the past 12 months on its Kyrgyz- and Russian-language website, and 9.8 million video views per month on its YouTube channel.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 41 million people every week in 27 languages and 23 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed 6.5 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2020. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.