PRAGUE - During visits to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan this week, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President & CEO Jamie Fly met with top government officials, human rights activists, and independent journalists to discuss the vital role that RFE/RL's journalism plays in advancing democracy in the region.
In Uzbekistan, Fly met with Tanzila Narbaeva, Chairwoman of the Senate in the upper house of the Uzbek parliament and Asadjon Khodjaev, Director of the Agency of Information and Mass Communications in addition to several other government institutions. Fly discussed with the Uzbek government RFE/RL’s interest in improving its ability to report from inside Uzbekistan for its Uzbek audiences. RFE/RL had to close its bureau in Tashkent in 2005 after government pressure on RFE/RL journalists. He also called on the government to stop blocking RFE/RL’s Uzbek language website.
Fly also met with Komil Allamjonov, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Public Foundation for Support and Development of National Mass Media, as well as with a group of Uzbek bloggers and activists to discuss the state of media freedom in Uzbekistan.
During his visit to Kazakhstan, Fly met with Aida Balaeva, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential; Roman Vassilenko, the Deputy Foreign Minister; and Askar Umarov, the Minister of Information and Social Development. During these meetings with the officials, Fly discussed RFE/RL’s commitment to independent reporting for Kazakh audiences and the Kazakh government’s plans to reform Kazakhstan’s media law.
During Fly’s visit, RFE/RL the launched a Special Project “Victims of Bloody January” with a list and stories of victims of the January 5-8 uprising in Kazakhstan and held an event in Almaty with other media organizations and human rights groups to discuss the efforts to uncover the truth about those who were killed.
RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, provides Kazakh audiences with a trusted, independent, and alternative source of local, regional, and national news for millions of residents in a country where the government overwhelmingly seeks to control press. In January 2022, Kazakh police opened fire on and detained several Service journalists covering the fuel price protests in Almaty. The Kazakh government also censored the Service website within the country.
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service, known locally as Radio Ozodlik, is an essential source of independent news and information for audiences that are otherwise dependent on official media. It is unique in bringing “accountability journalism” to its audiences, and in countering government disinformation and Russian propaganda inside the country. Investigative reporting is a focus for the Uzbek Service, targeting the corrupt practices of the country's top officials.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 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 7 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021. 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.