In Kazakhstan, 838 attacks/threats against professional and citizen media workers, activists, editorial offices of traditional and online media outlets were identified and analysed in the course of the study for 2022-2023. Data for the study were collected using content analysis from open sources in Kazakh, Russian and English; and was based on reports by correspondents from “Adil Soz” (the International Foundation for the Defence of Freedom of Speech). A list of the main sources is provided in Annex 1.

  1. In 2022, a record number of incidents (469) were recorded since monitoring began in 2017.  This increase in the number of rights violations against media workers is primarily due to the armed riots that took place in January.
  2. Attacks via judicial and/or economic means remained the main method of exerting pressure against media workers, bloggers and online activists (430 incidents).
  3. 56% of incidents were perpetrated by representatives of the authorities. The most common methods were extrajudicial activities and warnings, trials, arrests and interrogations, and charges in criminal and administrative cases. The criminal and administrative charges, interrogation and arrests which took place in 2022 were related to pre-trial investigations on criminal and administrative charges for media publications, as well as in connection with the coverage of events that took place in the country in early January. 
  4. The second most prevalent type of pressure was attacks and threats of a non-physical nature and/or cyber-attacks. In 2022-2023, 354 such incidents were recorded, making up 42% of the total number of incidents.
  5. In 2022-2023, 56 cases of physical attacks and threats to the life, liberty and health of media workers were recorded.  Of these, 27 incidents were related to the coverage of events that took place in Kazakhstan in January 2022.


In 2022, in the annual World Press Freedom Index, published by the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Kazakhstan improved its position by 33 places compared to the previous year, to 122nd out of a total of 180 countries. Human rights activists associated this improvement with the relative deterioration of the situation in other countries. In 2023, Kazakhstan’s ranking worsened its ranking, dropping 12 places to 134th. The Reporters Without Borders report points to the limited number of independent media outlets and the emergence of alternative journalistic projects on YouTube, Telegram and Instagram, which provide information that is not in line with the official mainstream narrative. The report also highlights the government’s determination to control the information field by carrying out arrests, attacking media workers, blocking online resources and communications during rallies, as well as criminal prosecution for the dissemination of false information.

In the “Freedom in the World” report compiled by Freedom House, Kazakhstan scored 23 out of 100 in both 2022 and 2023, thus retaining its “not free” status. The country scored 5/40 in the “Political Rights” category and 18/60 in the “Civil Liberties” category. Freedom House notes: “The dominant media are either state-owned or owned by government-friendly businessmen. Freedom of speech and assembly continues to be restricted and punished, while corruption is ubiquitous.”

In another Freedom House report “Freedom on the Net” in 2022, Kazakhstan received 32 points out of 100. As such, the country remained in the category of countries with a “not free” Internet. In 2023, the country moved up two places, receiving 34 points out of 100. In 2022, the score was significantly affected by a complete shutdown of the Internet amid protests and armed unrest that took place across the country in early January; in 2023, human rights activists noted the blocking of the Internet in places where protests were taking place, with widespread blocking of websites, and an increase in the number of cyber-attacks on news outlets and government agencies.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Information, as of November 2023, 5,749 media outlets are registered in Kazakhstan, of which 3,962 are periodicals, 211 are TV channels, 89 are radio, and 1,197 are news agencies/online media outlets. Domestic media is comprised of 5,459 outlets, alongside 290 foreign outlets. Print media maintained the largest market share, with 3,962 registered media outlets.

In 2023, the number of media outlets in the country increased by 495, 132 of which are periodicals, along with 8 TV channels, 3 radio stations, 340 news agencies and online outlets, including 12 foreign and 483 domestic media outlets.


On 2 January 2022, peaceful protests against gas price increases began in Zhanaozen and quickly spread throughout Kazakhstan. Mobile internet was shut off in areas where the protests were taking place and in the surrounding areas. On 4 January, peaceful protests escalated into clashes in several cities in Kazakhstan. Police reinforcements were present in every city across the country. On the night of 5 January in Almaty, these clashes escalated into riots, accompanied by violence, and looting and eventually resulting in casualties.

From 5 to 19 January, the country’s president declared a state of emergency in Almaty, Nur-Sultan, and in the Almaty and Mangistau regions. The Internet was soon shut down across Kazakhstan. Due to the blocking of the Internet and disruptions in telephone communications, the work of the media was almost completely paralysed. On 6 January, a state of emergency was introduced across Kazakhstan, and on 7 January a “critical” terror alert level was declared, after which an anti-terror regime was proclaimed. The president gave orders to “shoot to kill without warning”.

As of 7 January, the following TV channels were operating in Kazakhstan: Khabar 24, Khabar HD, Abay TV, Balapan, KazSport, Elarna and Kazakhstan. With the Internet disconnected, only websites and news platforms available to provide an official take on the events in the country were:,,,,,,

On 7 January, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the restoration of law and order in all regions of Kazakhstan. The president gave an address in which he accused human rights activists and “free media” of inciting unrest. This statement raised concern from the human rights organisation  Amnesty International: “… this narrative has since been adopted by various people in leadership positions in Kazakhstan.”


On 5 May, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a decree on holding a republican referendum on 5 June 2022 on the draft law “On Amendments and Additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. Paragraph 1 of Article of the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Republican Referendum” requires that the organisation and conduct of a referendum be carried out openly and publicly. Despite this, during the referendum on amendments to the Constitution of the country, journalists faced violations while covering the voting process.


On 5 November 2022, amendments were made to the electoral legislation. These include implementing a mixed electoral system for deputies of the Majlis of the Parliament and establishing specific regulations for election campaigning on social networks and online platforms.

Users of online platforms can participate in the election campaign provided that they, like any media, make public the payment agreements and conditions for posting campaign materials and submit this information to the election commissions five days before the start of the election campaign.

If media outlets plan to post campaign materials on their official accounts on social media (online platforms), they are required to provide the Central Election Commission or territorial election commissions (TECs) with the names of their accounts. Both the media and website users can post campaign materials only on a contractual basis.

The Code of Administrative Offences (CAO) of the Republic of Kazakhstan provides 26 articles for offences encroaching on electoral rights. Of these, 9 address violations of the order and conditions of election campaigning. Additionally, media outlets that fail to publish and submit to the Central Election Commission information about the payment amount, conditions, and procedure for the provision of airtime and print space may be fined if they publish or broadcast campaign materials.


On 21 September, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a decree “On The Appointment of Early Elections of The President of The Republic of Kazakhstan,” scheduling the elections for 20 November 2022 and determining the terms of the election campaign for presidential candidates. In connection with the start of the pre-election campaigning period, the Prosecutor General’s Office issued a warning about liability for non-compliance with the norms established by the Law “On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

On 27 October, the Ministry of Information and Social Development published a memo for the media and journalists on their work during the early presidential elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In the section titled “Transparency in the Activities of Election Commissions” regarding election laws, it states that on the day of voting, from the opening of the polling station until the results are established during the vote count, only one representative from each media outlet can be present at the polling station at any given time, provided they can present their journalist ID and accreditation. On 20 November, early presidential elections were held in Kazakhstan. The event was accompanied by preventive detentions of activists a few days before election day on suspicion of involvement in “planning and organising mass riots on 20 November.”

In contrast to the 2019 presidential elections, which were characterised by mass protests, arrests of protesters and journalists, attacks on media workers, and internet blocking, the 2022 elections were generally calm, with no arrests of journalists or other significant violations of media professionals’ rights.


On 19 January 2023, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed the decree “On the Dissolution of The Majlis of The Parliament of The Republic of Kazakhstan of The Seventh Convocation, and The Appointment of Early Elections of Deputies of The Majlis of The Parliament of The Republic of Kazakhstan,” as well as the decree “On the Early Termination of Powers of Maslikhats of All Levels.”

The elections of deputies to the Majlis of the Parliament and Maslikhats were scheduled for 19 March 2023. During the pre-election period, campaign events, the release of campaign materials, and other forms of campaigning were permitted through media and online platforms.

Another new regulation concerning the media was introduced – stipulating that on election day, only one representative from each media outlet (and no more than three representatives from each TV channel) could be present at a polling station, provided they could show their journalist ID and accreditation.


Among the main changes to the current legislation related to the media, notable developments include the adoption of the law “On Cyberbullying”, legislation concerning online platforms and online advertising, and the formulation of the new law “On Mass Media”. On 3 May 2022, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed the law “On Amendments and Additions to Some Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Protection of Children’s Rights, Education, Information, and Informatization”.

During the discussion stage in the Majlis of the Parliament, this draft law faced criticism from human rights activists, journalists, and the public for purportedly tightening regulations on social networks and messaging apps under the guise of protecting children from cyberbullying. The bill’s authors, deputies Aidos Sarym and Dinara Zakieva, proposed granting the authorised body, the Ministry of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, discretionary powers to restrict access or suspend the operation of online resources, social networks, and instant messengers.

After receiving unanimous approval from the Majlis, the bill was sent to the Senate, which introduced its own amendments. Firstly, the Senate proposed creating an expert commission to define cyberbullying. Secondly, they suggested removing only materials specifically related to cyberbullying. Additionally, Senate deputies recommended eliminating the amendment that required maintaining a register of social networks where instances of “cyberbullying” against children could be identified.

Despite these changes, the law retains provisions requiring owners of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others to appoint representatives who can quickly remove content identified by the Ministry of Information and Social Development (MISD) as cyberbullying within 24 hours.

In September 2022, the Ministry of Information and Social Development approved a procedure for handling complaints related to cyberbullying of children. This included defining cyberbullying and setting a processing time of three working days for applications. Upon confirmation of cyberbullying incidents, the authorised body is mandated to issue an order to the Internet resource owner, requiring the removal of such content within 24 hours.

On 2 February 2023, the Ministry of Information and Social Development presented the draft law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Mass Media” for public discussion. The bill received strong criticism from human rights activists and media representatives. It contains provisions that were not discussed by the designated working groups, and if enacted, these provisions would significantly restrict journalistic work and increase state control over the media sphere.

The most crucial paragraphs of the bill, which garnered significant attention from human rights activists, include provisions such as bringing all Internet resources under the law’s jurisdiction, eliminating the statute of limitations for defamation cases, granting extensive powers to law enforcement agencies concerning media and journalists in “special conditions,” introducing criminal and administrative penalties for disseminating information deemed to “discredit” law enforcement agencies under “special conditions,” broadly defining the term “special conditions,” and requiring pre-publication coordination of texts with officials, among others. Following severe criticism, lawmakers introduced more than 50 amendments to the bill in response to public concerns and objections.

In the revised draft law submitted for renewed discussion in April, the controversial article “Fulfilling the editorial assignment in special conditions” has been removed, along with the exclusion of the term “special conditions” from the bill.

A new provision regarding press cards has been introduced. It aims to confirm the special status of journalists, streamline the accreditation process, and grant other rights as stipulated by law. This provision is detailed in a separate article within the draft, outlining the procedure for issuing press cards to journalists and specifying the requirements for obtaining them.

The norm, reintroducing a three-year statute of limitations for claims related to the protection of honour, dignity, and business reputation against the media, was included back into the draft law.

On 7 June 2023, the Majlis of the Parliament adopted the bill “On Mass Media” along with the draft of accompanying amendments and additions to the legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

On 10 July, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed the law “On Online Platforms and Online Advertising.” The law introduces concepts such as “accounts” (on social media, for instance), “public community” and its moderator, “influencer (blogger)”, “false information” and others and defines the legal basis for online advertising and the activities of online platforms.

“False information” is information that does not correspond to reality or contains significant distortions of facts, creating a false impression of persons, objects, events, phenomena and processes recorded in any form.

Alongside the adoption of the bill “On Mass Media” on 7 June 2023, accompanying amendments and additions were introduced. These include a new article in the Code of Administrative Offences, which imposes liability for the placement and dissemination of false information through media channels, online, or through other means as stipulated by the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Also, users of online platforms, influencers, and bloggers are subject to liability for posting and disseminating false information if this information creates “conditions for violating public order, the rights and legitimate interests of citizens or organisations, or the legally protected interests of society or the state if these actions do not contain signs of a criminal offence.” The law came into force on 9 September 2023.

By a decree of the Government of Kazakhstan dated 22 July 2022, the powers of the Ministry of Information and Social Development were supplemented with the right “to request information from an online platform or instant messaging service about the number of users per day; (…) restrict the activities of a foreign online platform or instant messaging service on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” Mandates were also introduced to “conduct analysis and monitoring of the activities of non-profit organisations to identify risks of terrorist financing with the submission of such information to the authorised body in the field of combating the legalisation (laundering) of proceeds from crime and the financing of terrorism.”

By government decree, the responsibilities of the Ministry of Information and Social Development have been expanded to include the development and approval of rules on restricting access to online resources, foreign online platforms, and instant messaging services, as stipulated by the authorised body in the field of mass media.


Figure 1 provides a quantitative analysis of the three main types of attacks during this period. Between January 2022 and December 2023, 428 attacks via judicial and/or economic means, 354 attacks of non-physical nature, and 56 physical attacks and threats to the life and health of media workers were recorded.

In 2022, there has been a sharp increase in attacks on media workers in two categories: non-physical and/or cyber-attacks and threats and attacks via judicial and/or economic means. Compared to 2021, non-physical and cyber-attacks against media workers have doubled. The number of physical attacks and threats to the lives of journalists and bloggers increased by 1.6 times. In 72% of cases, physical attacks and threats to life were related to the coverage of the armed riots that took place in the country in January 2022. In 70% of cases, the sources of attacks on journalists during the unrest have no connection with law enforcement agencies or state authorities, or they could not be identified.

In 2023, the figures in all three categories remain high, although the total number of incidents decreased by 20% compared to 2022.

In 2022, the majority of threats (57%) originated from representatives of authorities and affiliated power structures. However, by 2023, their share of total attacks decreased to 38% for the year, while attacks from individuals not related to the authorities increased to 41%. In 2022, 14% of attacks on journalists were carried out by unknown individuals, a figure that rose to 21% by 2023.


In 2022 and 2023, 56 incidents related to physical pressure on media workers were recorded. One such attack was fatal:

  • On 6 January 2022, the driver of the reporting team of the “Almaty” TV channel, Muratkhan Bazarbayev, together with other journalists, came under fire in the centre of Almaty during the riots. The doctors were unable to save him. An employee of the TV channel, Diasken Baytibaev was wounded, after a bullet hit his right hand. Two of his fingers were amputated.

2022 saw the highest level of physical attacks on journalists since 2017, with a total number of incidents five times higher than in 2017 and 1.6 times higher than in 2021. These incidents included cases of assault, forceful detention, beatings, torture, attempted murder, unlawful abductions and the death of a journalist while on duty.

In 57% of the reported cases, the attack initiators could not be clearly identified. However, in 32% of cases, physical attacks came from representatives of the authorities, law enforcement agencies and security forces.

In 86% of situations, journalists were attacked while performing their professional duties. In 2022, of the 37 incidents recorded, 26 occurred during the coverage of armed unrest and armed crackdown in January. In 17 of these cases, the attacks and threats did not come from representatives of the authorities. In two cases, it was not possible to accurately identify the source of the threat. While covering the events in January, eight journalists were injured or traumatised and faced direct threats to their lives. Such incidents include:

  • On 5 January, journalists from the information portal were hit by rubber bullets and stun grenades used by the police during a protest in Almaty. Shrapnel from a grenade hit journalist Bek Baytas in the face. Earlier, journalist Leonid Rasskazov was wounded after he was shot in the back by a rubber bullet.
  • On the afternoon of 5 January, Radio Azattyk reporter Ayan Kalmurat and videographer Sanat Nurbek were attacked in Almaty while filming the storming of the Akimat (regional administration) building. Unknown individuals opened fire on demonstrators and journalists. According to the journalists, gunmen aimed at them, as the car from which the shot was fired had previously chased them.
  • On 8 January, in Almaty, journalist of the Russian TV channel Dozhd (TV Rain) Vasily Polonsky and photographer Vasily Krestyaninov were shot at. At the city morgue, armed men in uniform opened fire, first in the air and then at the surface next to journalists’ feet. Neither Polonsky nor Krestyaninov were injured.
  • On the night of 4-5 January, while covering the protests, Ruslan Pryanikov, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, was hit by a car. Protesters attacked a random passing car, and the driver panicked and sharply accelerated towards the photographer. He suffered a broken leg.

Other recorded incidents include:

  • On 21 June 2022, Aizhan Auelbekova, a journalist with the Vremya newspaper, reported on street trade at Arbat Alley within the historical and ethnocultural complex Ancient Taraz in Taraz City. Some of the merchants were displeased with her coverage. Following a verbal altercation, they attempted to seize her phone, insulted her, and subsequently locked her inside one of the shops. “As the individuals who attacked me filmed the incident, accompanied by false accusations and slander, and forcibly confined me by closing the outlet gate, I promptly contacted the police and filed a written complaint,” stated Auelbekova. “These individuals also made defamatory calls to the newspaper ‘Vremya’ and continue to post malicious content on social media, which has had a detrimental impact on my personal and professional reputation.”
  • On 19 July 2022, an unknown individual assaulted Olesya Vertinskaya, a correspondent for the information portal Road Control, near her residence. The attack resulted in Vertinskaya sustaining a displaced fracture of her nose. Several days before the assault, Olesya had received a message from an unidentified number strongly advising her to “be careful” about a specific Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) and its owner. The perpetrator responsible for the assault was apprehended and brought to trial, where he claimed personal motives for his actions. However, Vertinskaya maintains that the attack was planned. She asserts that she had no previous encounters with the assailant and believes the assault was ordered, citing the warning message she received as evidence.
  • On the night of 4 January 2022, in the city of Saryagash, Turkestan region, near the residence of Amangeldy Batyrbekov, editor of the newspaper Saryagash Info, unknown individuals opened fire, injuring his son Dinmukhamed. On 21 January, police in the Turkestan region apprehended suspects involved in the attempted murder of Amangeldy Batyrbekov and identified the mastermind behind the attack. Shockingly, it was revealed that an official had offered 5 million tenge for the journalist’s life. In November of the same year, five individuals, including the mastermind and four perpetrators, were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment for their roles in the attack.

In 2023, 19 physical attacks on media workers were registered, of which 17 occurred during their professional activities. In 52% of cases, the initiators of the attacks were people not connected with the authorities, in 37% they were personnel of security agencies, representatives of state authorities and law enforcement agencies. In other cases, the attackers could not be identified.

In 9 out of 10 cases where the attackers were not representatives of the authorities, journalists faced physical attacks from relatives or observers while covering court proceedings. In one instance, on 3 April 2023, employees at a petrol station in the Turkestan region attacked Askhat Karakoishiev, a cameraman for the Khabar 24 TV channel, while he was filming a video about the illegal export of fuel across the border.

In seven instances, journalists were assaulted by government representatives while reporting on events or incidents involving officials:

  • On 5 January, during a session of the Majlis, journalists attempted to interview Prosecutor General Berik Asylov, who was reporting to deputies on the progress of the investigation into the January events. The prosecutor’s press secretary, Darhat Duisenbay, actively prevented reporters and cameramen from proceeding up the stairs, eventually shutting the doors in their faces. ” He shoved and pushed us, pinched the leg of one person in the door, hit another one on the shoulder, and then, in the presence of Berik Asylov, looking at us in the face, he said that he did not push and did not interfere with our work,” wrote journalist Zhaniya Urankaeva.
  • On 18 August 2023, Diana Saparkyzy, a correspondent for the KazTAG news agency in Karaganda, was attacked by a security officer while attempting to film the scene near the Kazakhstanskaya mine of ArcelorMittal Temirtau JSC, where a fire had broken out, resulting in the deaths of five people. The officer confiscated her phone and deleted the recorded files. That same day, the journalist filed a police report. A pre-trial investigation into the obstruction of a journalist’s legitimate professional activities is underway.

Other incidents recorded in 2023 include:

  • On the morning of 22 February, journalist Daniyar Moldabekov was attacked by a masked individual at the entrance of his home. The assailant struck Moldabekov in the face while saying, “Don’t interfere,” before fleeing without attempting to rob him. Moldabekov reported the incident to the police, prompting an investigation and a forensic examination. Colleagues believe the attack was connected to Moldabekov’s professional activities, including his investigations and coverage of sensitive topics. The attacker has not been found.
  • On 5 February, Dinara Yegeubayeva, the author and host of the YouTube channel “DINARION,” reported that her son Adi was attacked with a gun. The attack occurred around 10 PM when Adi was walking from home to the store. According to Yegeubayeva, an unknown individual pointed a gun at her son, ordering him to turn off his phone and put it away. “Apparently, my son’s self-preservation instinct kicked in: he dropped his hands and ran sharply. The guy didn’t chase him but simply shouted, ‘Don’t worry, the gun is not real!’ Adi ran home and called me,” recounted Yegeubayeva. She regards the incident as an act of intimidation linked to her professional and political activities.


In 2022, the number of non-physical attacks doubled compared to 2021, and in 2023, increased by 1.5 times. From January 2022 to December 2023, there were a total of 353 attacks. Threats to digital security and obstruction of journalists’ legitimate professional activities were the primary methods of pressure on media workers. In some instances, obstruction included the destruction of collected materials.

In 2022, 48% of attacks were initiated by government officials, 30% by unknown individuals or those who could not be identified, and 22% by individuals not associated with the authorities.

In 2023, the situation shifted somewhat: 52% of threats came from unknown individuals, 34% from government officials, and 14% from people not associated with the authorities.


In 2022, out of 93 instances where journalists faced restrictions while performing their professional duties, 82 came from representatives of the authorities. These obstructions included denying media access to socially significant events on the pretext that journalists are not “on the list,” rescheduling events to earlier times without notifying journalists, refusing connections to open online court hearings, and excluding journalists from briefings for “asking inconvenient questions,” among other tactics.

During the coverage of the voting process for the republican referendum on amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the presidential election campaign, and on the day of the early presidential elections in Kazakhstan, 20 reports of obstruction to journalists’ work were registered. Specifically, on the day of the early presidential elections on 20 November, journalists from six media outlets were unable to cover the incumbent president’s voting due to a prolonged check-in process at the entrance to the polling station.

Of the 93 incidents in 2022 where journalists were hindered in their work by individuals not related to the authorities or by unknown individuals, 11 involved the denial of entry or the removal of journalists from medical buildings, construction sites, and trading sites. Additionally, journalists were banned from asking questions to speakers at events in certain educational institutions.

In 2023, 48 incidents related to obstructions of the legitimate professional activities of journalists and restrictions on access to information were recorded. In 38 cases (79%), these obstacles were created by government officials, including personnel from state institutions, law enforcement agencies, security services, and courts. Media representatives were removed from courtrooms, particularly during the announcement of verdicts, denied access to open online court hearings, prohibited from filming in government institutions and at incident sites, and barred from attending meetings of commissions on socially important issues.

From January 2022 to December 2023, 33 cases of damage to media outlets’ property and journalistic equipment, as well as journalists’ personal property, were recorded.

In 2022, two out of four cases where the property of media outlets and journalists was damaged by the actions of law enforcement officials occurred during coverage of armed unrest in January. These attacks were accompanied by physical pressure and detentions:

  • On 4 January 2022, security forces detained Orda correspondent Bek Baytas while he was filming protests in Almaty. Despite showing his press ID during the arrest, Baytas was taken to the police station, where a Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) officer twisted his arms and smashed his phone.
  • On 5 January 2022, Bagdat Asylbek, a special correspondent and editor of, was detained in Almaty after filming members of a special squad firing at a group of people. Shortly after, two armed individuals approached Asylbek. Despite wearing a blue vest labelled “Press” (as required by law) and showing his press ID, security forces forcibly grabbed him and placed him in a police van. They confiscated his phone to delete the recorded videos, as well as his identity card and press credentials. After a prolonged argument, authorities returned his documents and phone under the condition that he leave the location.

Among the 13 cases of damage to journalists’ property that occurred in 2022-2023 which were carried out by individuals not associated with the authorities, seven were committed during the armed riots in January 2022. These attacks were also accompanied by physical pressure on journalists:

  • On 4 January 2022, protesters in Almaty attacked a correspondent from Mediazona while he was filming the unrest. One of the protesters struck the journalist’s hands, causing his phone to fall and resulting in a broken screen. Subsequently, two additional individuals approached and attempted to take the phone away.
  • On 5 January 2022, photojournalist Almaz Kaisar was documenting a demonstration in Almaty while wearing a vest labelled “PRESS.” A group of aggressive individuals wearing masks and carrying sticks approached him, suspecting he was gathering information for the National Security Committee (NSC) to identify protesters. Initially, some peaceful demonstrators tried to protect the photographer, but opposition to his filming grew. Ultimately, his phone was forcibly taken and damaged. Subsequently, Almaz Kaisar removed his “PRESS” vest and secretly continued his work.
  • On 5 January 2022, rioters looted the editorial offices of five TV companies in Almaty: MIR, Kazakhstan, Khabar, Eurasia, and KTK. Video cameras were stolen, and equipment was damaged. Later that night, fires broke out in two buildings housing media offices.

Other reported incidents include:

  • On the night of 10-11 May 2023, in Atyrau, a man set fire to the car of Viktor Sutyagin, a correspondent for Kazinform. The journalist suspected the incident could be related to his professional activities but did not have any specific suspects. On  14 May, the police reported the detention of a suspect, a 37-year-old resident of Atyrau. The suspect confessed that he committed the arson to intimidate his friend, who owed him money, but mistakenly targeted Sutyagin’s car.
  • On 22 August 2023, in Aktau, the driver of an SUV deliberately collided with a drone belonging to the Radio Azattyk office. The incident occurred when cameraman Yerzhan Amirkhanov was preparing the drone for launch. Amirkhanov and his colleague Saniya Toiken were filming a report about the emergency situation at the Mangystau Nuclear Power Plant. Fortunately, the journalists were unharmed.
  • From September 2022 to February 2023, a series of hybrid attacks were carried out on the independent media outlets and, editors-in-chief Gulnar Bazhkenova ( and Gulzhan Yergaliyeva (“ElMedia”, Youtube channel), author and host of the Youtube channel “Hyperborey” Vadim Boreyko and channel cameraman Roman Egorov, editor-in-chief of Samal Ibraeva, the author and host of the “Dinarion” channel Dinara Yegeubayeva.  They were subject to harassment, threats, DDoS attacks, and telephone bullying. Unknown individuals set fire to the cars of Dinara Yegeubayeva and Roman Egorov, sealed the entrance doors of Gulnar Bazhkenova and Vadim Boreyko’s homes with foam, distributed personal data of Samal Ibraeva on the internet, and repeatedly broke windows at the building where the “ElMedia” outlet rented an office. In February 2023, the police apprehended Oleksiy Tokarev, the coordinator of these attacks, and later his accomplices. On 4 March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the detention of Arkady Klebanov (Manevich), the mastermind behind the assaults on journalists and editorial offices. According to the Ministry, Klebanov (Manevich) had personal grievances against several media outlets and journalists, which motivated him to organise the attacks “for personal reasons”. Four accomplices of Tokarev were sentenced to one year and four months of restriction of freedom for hooliganism and deliberate destruction of property.


In 2022-2023, cases of cyber-attacks, hacking of emails and social media accounts, theft and distribution of personal data, as well as trolling against media outlets and journalists increased dramatically. Compared to 2021, the number of such incidents increased by 3.6 times in 2022 (45 incidents) and by 4.8 times in 2023 (61 incidents). Such incidents include:

  • On 17-18 March 2022, the websites of three media outlets—,, and—were subjected to cyber-attacks. Their front pages displayed the Russian flag and military symbols—the letters Z and V.
  • On 28 July 2022, the editors of reported hacker attacks on their website. A powerful DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack severely damaged the site’s administration system, resulting in a complete interruption of its operation from 6:00 PM on 27 July onwards.
  • On the evening of 21 July 2022, the website experienced a significant DDoS attack. The editorial team lost access to the site and their email services, preventing them from updating content. As a result, the media had to suspend the site on 24 July and could only resume operations on 15 August. These attacks coincided with the publication of a series of investigations about Jusan-Bank. 
  • On 24 September 2022, issues with access to the Radio Azattyk began in Kazakhstan. The page either opened with great difficulty or did not open at all, displaying the error message “This site is not available” and “You cannot access this site”. The site could be opened via a VPN. A few hours before the problems started, “Azattyk” released the report “Underground Business” looking into Tokayev’s connections and “The Danger of Drawing Kazakhstan into War.” The first part of the publication talked about the investigation carried out by the Swiss organisation Public Eye – a non-governmental organisation which provides analyses with a focus on global justice. The Public Eye website became unavailable in Kazakhstan in the late afternoon of 24 September. 
  • On 14 October 2022, the KazTAG news agency reported ongoing DDoS and spam attacks, which inundated the outlet with over 61 thousand messages. In response, site administrators activated a protection system designed to secure the portal’s connection to the Internet. Following this measure, the site remained operational, albeit with a slight delay upon initial page visits due to the activation of the protection system.  
  • On 18 January 2023, the website was hacked. Personal data of the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Samal Ibraeva, and her children were briefly posted on the hacked site. The attack also destroyed the media outlet’s archive, and the site remained inaccessible until 23 January.
  • On 17 October 2023, journalist Mikhail Kozachkov, owner of the Telegram channel “Kozachkov offside”, reported a significant increase in cyber-attacks on his platform. Kozachkov stated, “About 40 thousand bots were injected into the channel, and approximately 70-80 thousand were added to the chat, all in one night.” He further disclosed that the channel now has over 300 thousand accounts on its blacklist. Additionally, subscribers of the “Kozachkov offside” channel began receiving messages alleging that Mikhail Kozachkov identifies with a “non-traditional sexual orientation”, which the journalist vehemently denied. Kozachkov received a personal message indicating that an unknown individual had hired hackers to dismantle his channel.
  • Since 6 December 2023, the website Kursiv.Media has been under a complex cyber-attack originating from IP addresses in Mexico, Germany, Russia, Finland, and other countries. By 11 December, the site had received nearly 1.3 billion requests. These mass activities on the servers repeatedly caused the media outlet’s website to become unavailable. The attacks have included DDoS attacks and multiple attempts to hack corporate email and servers. There have also been phishing attacks, where fraudulent emails impersonating corporate addresses were sent to media employees. Recently, Kursiv.Media has received several unofficial demands not to cover specific topics through unofficial channels.

Three cases of illegal surveillance were recorded:

  • On 4 May 2022, Mikhail Kozachkov, an investigative journalist for the Vremya newspaper and author of the Telegram channel “Kozachkov Offside,” reported surveillance. The journalist published on his Telegram channel photographs of two cars with special services’ number plates following him. Kozachkov contacted the Prosecutor General regarding the surveillance.
  • On 19 October 2022, Sandugash Duysenova, a journalist from the Vremya newspaper, found a device with a SIM card attached underneath her car. She took the SIM card out, inserted it into her phone and found out that the device belonged to a Kazakhstan citizen working for the tax authorities in Lenger. The journalist contacted the police.
  • On 10 May 2023, independent journalist and human rights activist Denis Shevchenko stated that some police officers, one of whom introduced himself as a district police officer, were collecting information about his personal life from his neighbours. The journalist noted that the secret procedural investigative actions against him were illegal and demanded that they be stopped.


In 2022, there were 47 reported cases of harassment, threats, discrediting, and pressure on journalists. Government officials were implicated in 10 of these incidents. By 2023, the number of such incidents decreased to 27, with government officials identified as responsible in six cases. The objective behind these actions is to compel journalists and editorial offices to cease publishing critical and investigative materials, as well as to remove already published content.

These incidents include:

  • On 7 January 2022, Olesya Vertinskaya, a journalist for the online media outlet Road Control, was taken to a police station, where she was subjected to psychological pressure and death threats. On 5 January, Vertinskaya, working as a correspondent, filmed the situation on the roads of Atyrau and in the city.
  • On 8 January 2022, Andrey Yashchenko, a special correspondent for the Russian YouTube channel “The People”, who was filming a documentary in Nur-Sultan about the unrest in Kazakhstan, received a warning from a special services officer as he was leaving the police station after his detention. The officer approached Andrey Yashchenko and said that if he was to be detained again, he’d be deported from Kazakhstan.
  • On 5 June 2023, journalist Askhat Niyazov, known for the “I Adore” YouTube project, was scheduled to meet with the akim (head) of the East Kazakhstan region. However, on that day, two women publicly staged a provocation against him, accusing him of bias in his programs and demanding that he be prohibited from visiting the city. The entire incident was recorded on their phones. Niyazov interpreted this provocation as an attempt to exert pressure on him. Later, his colleagues discovered that these two women have connections to the regional akim through a subordinate, specifically the chairman of the regional Maslikhat (local parliament).
  • On 16 September 2022, Vadim Boreyko, journalist and author of the YouTube channel “Hyperborey,” disclosed receiving two indirect messages within two days. Initially, a “senior official from Akorda” invited him to a meeting for a “private conversation.” Following his refusal, a courteous individual, described as a “security official,” visited Boreyko’s old friend. This official requested the friend to relay a message to Boreyko, urging him to refrain from criticising the president for two months. In exchange, Boreyko was offered a substantial sum in foreign currency with five zeros. Despite the tempting offer, the journalist opted to reject the bribe.
  • On 8 October 2022, journalist Assem Zhapisheva reported harassment by the officers of the counter-extremism department. She claims that an employee of the department, Maulen Kasimzhan, came to the office of activist Gulnar Mirambetova, asked her questions about Zhapisheva and intimidated her. Zhapisheva considers this a violation of her right to privacy and security.


In 2022, the number of attacks of this type increased by 16% compared to the previous year, amounting to 227 incidents. In 2023, the number of recorded incidents decreased slightly to 203.

In 2022, there was a notable increase in methods such as arrests (21 cases compared to 6 in 2021), interrogations (21 compared to 7), and confiscation of equipment (10 compared to 1). However, in 2023, there was a significant reduction in these indicators: only 5 arrests occurred, the number of interrogations decreased by 10 times, and there was only one case of equipment confiscation. Conversely, in 2023, the number of warnings, pre-trial claims, and other out-of-court actions nearly doubled compared to both 2022 and 2021.


In January and May 2022, a number of media representatives were summoned for interrogations by law enforcement agencies in connection with their coverage of mass riots earlier in the year. Out of 22 cases, 10 involved interrogations, focusing on the rallies and possible affiliations with banned organisations. Typically, these sessions were conducted respectfully and lasted 1-2 hours. However, Olesya Vertinskaya, a correspondent for the online media outlet Road Control, had an altogether different experience. On 7 January 2022, police officers arrived at her home and took her to the police station. During the interrogation, Vertinskaya faced psychological pressure and threats. The following day, she was taken to the “Dynamo” gym, known colloquially as the “torture chamber.” Her mobile phone was confiscated, and video materials were deleted. One of the officers behaved aggressively, using physical force. After the intervention of another officer, Vertinskaya was released, having been held for over six hours. Vertinskaya is pursuing accountability for what she describes as torture by the police during this incident.

Other cases of summons for interrogations are linked to pre-trial investigations concerning publications or statements made by individuals featured prominently in those publications. Journalists and bloggers were summoned either as witnesses with the right to defend themselves or in the capacity of witnesses:

  • On 11 January 2022, environmental activist Artem Sochnev from Stepnogorsk (Akmola region) was summoned to the police as part of a pre-trial criminal investigation under the charge of “inciting social discord.” The investigation was initiated due to his live broadcast on Facebook on 4 January, in which he expressed support for the protesting residents of Zhanaozen. The case was later dismissed due to a lack of evidence of any criminal offence.
  • On 25 January 2022, journalist Makhambet Abzhan, author of the “Abzhannews” Telegram channel, was summoned for interrogation as part of a criminal investigation into the dissemination of knowingly false information. The police initiated the pre-trial investigation in response to Abzhan’s interview with the Dozhd TV channel (TV Rain) on 4 January.
  • On 14 February 2022, blogger Zhenis Kuspan was interrogated as part of an investigation into the dissemination of knowingly false information. The investigation was prompted by his Facebook post warning subscribers about a video circulating in messengers, which depicted police officers allegedly singing the anthem and shouting “Shal ket!” (“Old man, go away!”). Kuspan claimed the video was fake and should not be trusted. There is no exact information available regarding the termination of the case.
  • On 18 December 2022, Mikhail Kozachkov, author of the Telegram channel “Kozachkov offside” and correspondent for the Vremya newspaper, was detained and taken to testify at the Department of Economic Investigations in Almaty. An investigation was initiated against him under several articles of the Criminal Code, including dissemination of knowingly false information, dissemination of information connected to private life, aiding and abetting an organised criminal group in committing hostile seizures, and illegal collection and dissemination of state secrets. As a result of the investigation, the charges of aiding an organised crime group and disseminating state secrets were dropped.
  • On 28 February 2023, Gulnar Bazhkenova, editor-in-chief of, was summoned for questioning by the Interdepartmental Investigative and Operational Group (MSOG). The interrogation lasted four hours, during which the prosecutor demanded she reveal the sources who informed her about the fight in Akorda on 3 January 2022. When Bazhkenova refused to disclose her sources, the prosecutor warned her about the criminal liability for disseminating false information.
  • On 7 November 2023, journalist Nurzhan Baimuldin was summoned to the Counter-Extremism Department of the Akmola Region Police Department in connection with an administrative case under a new article of the Code of Administrative Offences regarding the dissemination of false information on Internet platforms. The case was prompted by his Facebook post criticising the authorities. Despite his demands, copies of the case materials and the protocol were not given to the journalist.


In 2022, out of 21 recorded cases of journalists being arrested or detained, 15 occurred while they were performing their professional duties. Twelve of these incidents took place in January when journalists were covering the armed unrest and its suppression. Due to threats and attacks from protesters, the journalists were compelled to conceal their vests labelled “Press”—a mandatory identifier for media workers covering both peaceful and protest rallies.

In 2023, three out of five detentions occurred while journalists were covering events in the country:

  • On 11 April 2023, Zhanar Karimova, a photographer for, was detained in Astana while covering a protest of Mangystau workers near the KazMunayGas office. Despite wearing a “Press” vest and carrying a press ID, law enforcement officers confiscated her camera and took her to the police department.
  • On 1 May 2023, Beimbet Moldagaliyev, a correspondent for, was detained at the site of an alleged rally in Astana. Despite showing his official ID to the police, he was taken to the Saryarka District Police Department. Moldagaliyev was prohibited from informing his editors about his detention, and police attempted to confiscate his phone. He was photographed and fingerprinted at the police station and released half an hour later without explanation.
  • On 25 September 2023, Saniya Toyken, a reporter for Radio Azattyk, was detained by police officers in the Expo area of Astana while filming the INNOPROM QAZAQSTAN exhibition from a distance. Despite presenting her press ID and being outside the exhibition grounds, she was taken to the Yesil police department and held for two hours without explanation. No official document confirming her detention was provided.

Other incidents involving the detention of journalists include:

  • On 4 January 2022, environmental activist Artyom Sochnev was detained by police on the central square of Stepnogorsk during his Facebook Live broadcast. Sochnev was conducting a one-person protest against the rise in liquefied gas prices.
  • On 5 January 2022, in Uralsk, Lukpan Akhmedyarov, the editor of Ural Week, was detained under the pretext of being taken in for interrogation. He spent several hours at the police station where investigators questioned him about his alleged involvement in prohibited organisations. The specific case related to the interrogation was not specified by the investigator.
  • On 11 August 2023, police in Taldykorgan detained Sandugash Duisenova, a journalist from Orda, in connection with a criminal investigation into the dissemination of personal data. After procedural measures, Duisenova was released on her recognisance, banned from leaving the country and told to maintain proper conduct. The procedural measures included a court-authorised personal search of Duisenova, during which she was required to undress almost entirely in the presence of witnesses.

In 2022, three foreign journalists were detained in connection with criminal cases initiated against them in their homeland. These are Buryat journalist Evgenia Baltatarova from Russia (detained twice, on 30 September and 2 November) and Uzbek blogger Koshkarbai Toremuratov


In 2022, 58 incidents involving the initiation of criminal and administrative cases, as well as civil prosecutions against journalists, were recorded. These cases primarily stemmed from the events in January of that year, involving journalists and bloggers in administrative processes and criminal investigations. Some journalists faced arrests and fines as a result of these administrative trials.

  • On 7 January 2022, journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov was detained for ten days on charges of participating in an unauthorised rally. During his court appearance, Lukpan detailed that he had attended the rally to cover it, not to participate in it. He explained that when some demonstrators began inciting others to break and destroy the administrative building, he used his phone to call on rally participants not to succumb to provocations. Despite this evidence and testimonies from witnesses, the administrative court did not consider his defence.
  • On 9 January 2022, Daryn Nursapar, editor of Altay News, was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest for participating in an unauthorised rally. Despite a ban from the management, the journalist filmed a rally in Ust-Kamenogorsk and shared the video on his Facebook page.
  • On 9 January 2022, Instagram blogger Alexandra Osipova faced administrative charges for allegedly organising an illegal rally on 5 January. The court of appeal later amended the charge, finding her guilty of participating in the rally. As a result, Osipova was initially fined 153,150 tenge (approximately $350), which was later reduced to $260. The accusation stemmed from a live broadcast on social media that Osipova conducted from a square in Ust-Kamenogorsk on 5 January, during the period of widespread unrest in Kazakhstan).
  • On 10 January 2022, Kalamkas Botabekova, a journalist from the publication Kazakhstan Without Corruption, was found guilty by an administrative court of violating rally regulations and fined approximately $300. According to the administrative protocol, on 4 January, near the Alkhan Ata store in Turkestan, she live-streamed on Facebook, urging residents to join an unauthorised rally. During the court session, Botabekova clarified that her Facebook Live on 4 January was reporting on people who had gathered for an illegal rally.
  • On 20 January 2022, an administrative trial took place involving blogger and journalist Olesya Vertinskaya from the online publication Road Control. She was accused of participating in an illegal rally on 5 January. Vertinskaya pleaded not guilty and successfully demonstrated in court that she was present at the square solely as a journalist fulfilling her editorial responsibilities. As a result, the court dismissed the case against Vertinskaya, citing the absence of any administrative offence in her conduct. 

In 2023, the courts ruled on administrative offences against journalists, resulting in measures such as arrests and fines.

  • On 12 April 2023, Lukpan Akhmedyarov, who manages the YouTube channel Prosto Zhurnalistika (Just Journalism), was sentenced to 15 days in prison for allegedly organising an unauthorised rally. Akhmedyarov stated that he had visited Manshuk Mametova Square in Uralsk to ascertain if an event for which he had previously been denied permission was taking place. He claimed to have briefly addressed the gathering with the organiser’s consent.
  • On 3 July 2023, Amangeldy Batyrbekov, the editor-in-chief of S-Inform, was sentenced to 20 days of administrative arrest on libel charges. The trial was initiated following a complaint by Bolatbek Nazhmetdinuly, a deputy of the Majlis (parliament), in response to Batyrbekov’s Facebook post on 10 March questioning, ‘Is this corruption or what?’ The post alleged that Nazhmetdinuly was a suspect in a fraud case several years ago. Batyrbekov defended his post, stating that he had copies of documents supporting his claims.
  • On 9 October 2023, Amangeldy Batyrbekov, the editor-in-chief of S-Inform, was arrested for 20 days on defamation charges against A. Sapargaliyev, the head of the Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Accounts in Shymkent. The arrest followed Batyrbekov’s publication alleging that Bolatbek Nazhmetdinuly, a candidate in early parliamentary elections, had submitted a fake certificate of no criminal record. According to the publication, an employee of the Shymkent department of the Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Accounts issued Nazhmetdinuly two certificates—one stating he had a criminal record and another saying he had none.

The second most frequently recorded accusation against journalists was the dissemination of false information. A new article in the Administrative Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan addressing the settlement of offences was set to come into effect in September 2023. Two criminal cases were documented involving the offices of Radio Free Europe – Radio Azattyk and journalist Nurzhan Baimuldin from Kokshetau, both of whom were found guilty.

  • On 16 November 2023, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty-Kazakhstan was found guilty of disseminating false information and fined administratively. The case was initiated following a complaint from a resident of Shymkent, A. Turabaev, who alleged that an article titled ‘Lawyer: Prisoner Timur Danebayev temporarily transferred from Atbasar detention centre to Kokshetau’ contained false information, specifically regarding the leadership of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) being attributed to Russia.
  • On 22 November 2023, journalist Nurzhan Baimuldin was fined for spreading false information in a post published on his personal Facebook page on 29 October. The district inspector drew up the protocol for the administrative offence based on a report from a senior detective claiming that during the social network’s monitoring, Baimuldin’s post with negative statements about the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan was discovered.

In 2022-2023, several court decisions were made in which journalists and bloggers were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences. Trials involving criminal charges include:

  • On 14 March 2022, blogger Danataa Namazbava was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda or public calls for the violent seizure of power” based on two Facebook posts. In one, the blogger criticised corruption in Kazakhstan, and in another, opposed the war in Ukraine. The defendant’s legal team argued that the sentence was unjustified, asserting that Namazbayev’s posts did not contain any calls to overthrow or seize power.
  • On 3 February 2023, Makhambet Abzhan, the founder of the Telegram channel “ABZHAN NEWS”, was convicted of disseminating knowingly false information and extortion and sentenced to 9 years in prison. The prosecution alleged that Abzhan demanded 50 million tenge from businessman Rashit Mahat under threat of spreading defamatory information about him. Abzhan’s lawyer, Tolegen Shaikov, expressed disbelief in the severity of the sentence, stating, “According to Article 194, Part 4, Paragraph 2 (Extortion), two examinations were conducted: one by the investigator’s decision and the second at the defence’s request. Both concluded that there was no evidence of a threat, a prerequisite for extortion.”
  • On 4 December 2023, a criminal court in Almaty convicted journalists Vladimir and Nargiz Severny of extortion. Vladimir Severny received a 7-year prison sentence, while Nargiz Severnaya received an 8-year sentence, with a 5-year deferral due to having a dependent minor child. The prosecution alleged that they extorted money from Aktau businesswoman Zareta Fataliyeva and another individual from Almaty by threatening to publish negative materials about them. Severny’s lawyer argued that there were numerous inaccuracies in the case, emphasising that any doubts about the guilt of the accused should favour them in accordance with Article 77 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 


  • The International Foundation for Freedom of Speech Protection – a Kazakhstani non-governmental and nonprofit human rights organisation; its main goal is the establishment of free, objective and progressive journalism for the country’s benefit;
  • Central Election Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan a permanent state body of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which heads the unified system of election commissions of Kazakhstan;
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – an international non-governmental organisation defending journalists’ rights;
  • CIVICUS, the Global Civil Society Alliance – an influential network of organisations at the local, national, regional and international levels, covering the full spectrum of civil society. It assesses and monitors the observance of fundamental freedoms in 197 countries and territories. CIVICUS Monitor analyses the extent to which three civil society rights (the right to association, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to freedom of expression and opinions) are respected and supported; 
  • Freedom House – an international human rights NGO that evaluates and publishes reports on the level of freedom in 210 countries and territories worldwide, including on freedom of speech and media activity;
  • Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law – a non-governmental organisation whose aim is to promote the observance of civil and political rights and liberties in Kazakhstan;
  • KazTAG – the news agency that publishes news about events in Kazakhstan;
  • The Ministry of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan – a state body of the Republic of Kazakhstan that manages the field of information: monitors the media, has powers to restrict the activities of foreign online platforms or instant messaging services on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
  • Official website of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Radio Azattyk – an international online media outlet that publishes news and analyses with an emphasis on political, economic, and social events in different countries; work of judicial and law enforcement bodies; various cases of persecution of citizens for their political views;
  • Reporters Without Borders – an international NGO whose aim is to protect journalists who are being subjected to persecution for doing their job;
  • Social media including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Telegram;
  • Open-access Russian and Kazakh-language media.