The Central Asian Roundtable, cartoonists competition and exhibition to mark World Press Freedom Day - 2011 have been summed up

23 May 2011

On 3 May 2011 in Almaty the round table "Media of the XXI Century: New Opportunities and New Obstacles took place. The event was dedicated to May 3 World Press Freedom Day and the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on promoting independent and pluralistic press.

The organizers of the roundtable and the exhibition were the UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty and the Fund for Protection of Freedom of Speech "Adil Soz". The event was supported by the Office of the United Nations Department of Public Information in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the International Association for the Protection of Freedom of Speech IFEX.

Dr. Serguei Lazarev, UNESCO Representative to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, presented a joint statement of the UN Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and of the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. Dr. Lazarev emphasized that the goal of the UN cooperation with civil society and government bodies remain the same: to promote freedom of expression as a basis for human dignity and the cornerstone of democracy. He also emphasized the importance of the continued support of freedom of expression in the press, on radio, television and online media.

50 participants paid special attention to the legislation that is governing the work of journalists in Central Asia and have also not bypassed the main trends of media development - formation of converged editorial offices, the formation of online media, the role of the blogosphere and new digital restrictions.

President of the Foundation "Adil Soz Ms. Tamara Kaleeva has identified the main legal problems the media are facing. In her comments, in most states of Central Asia there is still a criminal responsibility for the professional activities of journalists. There are still in place increased measures to protect officers and especially senior officials, which greatly restrict the freedom of expression.

Chairman of the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan Mr. Nuriddin Karshiboev noted that Tajikistan experienced serious limitations on freedom of expression in recent months. They were related to the ongoing government campaign against terrorism. In general, journalists have the same problems - the complexity of media registration, restrictions on access to information and vague prospects in respect of possible transition to digital broadcasting among private TV stations.

Executive Director of the National Association of Broadcasters of Kazakhstan Ms. Sholpan Zhaksybayeva spoke about the upcoming transition to digital broadcasting. In her view, the introduction of digital television in the form as proposed by the Ministry of Communications and Information, may bury independent TV. The essence of the problem is that in the transition "to digital" main role goes to the mediator - signalman.

The general debate was marked by another trend. Among the bloggers less and less investigative journalism is being used, giving place to those who promote a particular brand or carry a particular order. According to the vice-president of Internet Association of Kazakhstan Mr. Alexander Lyakhov, the blogosphere has become the channel of PR, although still remains also a very important channel for data transmission.

World Press Freedom Day has also been marked by the contest of cartoonists and cartoon exhibition "Freedom of expression without words." Artists from Russia and Central Asia participated in the contest and were also among the winners.

The victory of the well-known Kazakh artist who has been for many years working in the media, Mr. Igor Kijko was not unexpected. Second place was shared by Kazakhstani cartoonist Mr. Nicholas Veryovochkin and cartoonist from Moscow, Mr. Oleg Loktev. The third place has been won by the artists from Uzbekistan Mr. Mahmudjon Eshonkulov and Mr. Nikolai Sviridenko.

Exhibition of cartoonists works (participants of the contest) was opened in the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan. During the exhibition (from 4 to 15 May) it was visited by over 8000 people. The exhibition has also been included in the program "Night at the Museum - 2011.

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