Сөз бостандығын қорғау халықаралық қоры
Международный фонд защиты свободы слова
The International Foundation for Freedom of Speech Protection

Violations of freedom of speech in Kazakhstan April 2024

17 june 2024

The International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech «Adil Soz» presents an overview of events reflecting the situation in Kazakhstan with freedom of expression, receipt, and dissemination of information in April 2024. 


In April 2024, the following incidents were recorded: 

There were 20 reports of violations of the rights of journalists, media, and newsmakers. Among them: 

2 reports involved obstruction of journalists' lawful professional activities 

8 reports related to the discrediting of media, journalists, and newsmakers. In 7 cases, representatives of the governmental sector fell victim to actions by perpetrators who created fake accounts and distributed messages posing as newsmakers. 


12 reports pertained to the right to freely receive and disseminate information. These included 5 cases of refusals and restrictions in providing socially significant information, as well as 3 cases of unauthorized access to information and DDoS attacks 


20 reports concerned pre-trial and court claims and lawsuits filed against journalists, media outlets, and citizens.  

These included: 

3 cases in criminal proceedings; 

9 court and pre-trial claims against media in civil proceedings; 

8 administrative accusations, including 2 under charges of disseminating false information and 3 for defamation



April 6: As of April 6, a state of emergency has been declared in 10 regions of the country. On April 6, due to the severe situation, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed the people of Kazakhstan, the media, and bloggers, urging them not to spread unverified information that could incite panic.  

"In such a situation, actions aimed at consolidating authority and society are of particular importance. I ask citizens to trust only official sources of information", said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. 

The General Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and members of the Majilis have called on the public and the media to refrain from spreading false information. The Prosecutor's Office reminded that the dissemination of false information carries administrative and criminal liability. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has intensified monitoring of fake news regarding the floods. 


April 22: Majilis Deputy Yerlan Sairov addressed a parliamentary inquiry to Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov, raising the issue of restricting the social network TikTok. The deputy called on the government to impose restrictions on all illegal content on TikTok that contradicts moral and other universal human values.  

According to Sairov, it is also necessary to block content that "poisons children's minds, leading to imitation of various negative trends and forming destructive views about society". 

On the same day, in response to journalists' questions in the corridors of the Majilis plenary session, Minister of Culture and Information Aida Balayeva stated that the decision on blocking TikTok would be made after an analysis determines the extent to which illegal content "prevails and exceeds" on the platform, reports "Kursiv"

When journalist asked: "whether this constituted censorship under the guise of "protecting children," the minister replied that she viewed the blocking of TikTok not as a restriction on freedom of speech but as a necessary measure to protect public interests. The minister emphasized that the measures are being taken comprehensively, not based on a single incident, and that similar discussions are taking place in other countries as well. 


April 25: At the XXXIII session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan titled "Unity. Creation. Progress", President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized national unity and solidarity in overcoming difficulties. The President cautioned the media and bloggers against stirring up hysteria and disinformation.  

"The media and individual citizens calling themselves bloggers must understand that fueling hysteria around a natural disaster and indiscriminate accusations harm the consolidation of society and create the illusion of loss of control by state authorities, which is disinformation.  

Such actions generate social depression with all its obvious consequences for the reputation of our people. Therefore, to avoid such undesirable phenomena, the authorities will take legal measures against those attacking the security of our country," said the President. 

At the same time, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reminded that government bodies at all levels must stay in close contact with the country's citizens, especially authoritative and responsible activists, listen to the people's opinions, and, most importantly, make quick and correct decisions. 





April 5: Director of the Department of Innovation Development of the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations, and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan, Darkhan Myrzabayev, announced the formation of the draft Concept for the Development of Artificial Intelligence for 2024-2029, as well as the inclusion of the development of the Digital Code in the Legislative Work Plan for 2024. 

 Digital Code project encompasses digital government, artificial intelligence (AI), digital infrastructure and tools, and cybersecurity.  

"This document will include regulations on the application of AI technologies, the safe operation of AI systems, AI ethics principles, and the provision of information security in the use of AI technologies", noted Darkhan Myrzabayev. 


April 17: The Majilis of Parliament passed the draft law "On Mass Media" and accompanying amendments in the second reading. As part of the protection of the rights of media workers, the statute of limitations for claims related to media materials violating rights is set at one year. The document also establishes legal guarantees for the professional activities of journalists and clarifies the main tasks of mass media activities. 

The draft law excludes provisions on press cards and the definitions of "mass information", "religious television program", and "certificate of registration for television and radio channels". Additionally, the norm proposed by deputies Askhat Aimagambetov and Zhanarbek Ashimzhanov at the beginning of April, which aimed to suspend or terminate media outlets for promoting non-traditional sexual orientation, has been removed from the draft. 

The draft law introduces the concepts of "special status of a journalist" and "simplified accreditation procedure", and it clarifies the definitions of "accreditation of journalists (media representatives)" and "media monitoring". Additionally, it grants the authorized body the competence to carry out media monitoring. 

The bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration. 


Refusal of Accreditation to Azattyq Correspondents 

The media corporation Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has reached a mediation agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan to resolve the situation regarding the accreditation of Radio Azattyq journalists in Kazakhstan. 

"Throughout this process, all we wanted was for our journalists to continue their important work in Kazakhstan safely and without compromise. We remain committed to providing our audience with independent, trustworthy reports, and I am confident that this agreement will enable us to do just that", stated RFE/RL President and CEO Steven Capus, welcoming the decision. 

Let us remind, in January, the Kazakhstan office of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) received a response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notifying them of the refusal to accredit or extend the accreditation of 36 employees of RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service—Radio Azattyq. The RFE/RL office filed a lawsuit in the Specialized Interdistrict Administrative Court of Astana, seeking to overturn the MFA's decision of January 3, 2024. 

During the proceedings, the court was presented with a mediation agreement signed by MFA representative A.G. Sainov and foreign media representative Asel Tokayeva. 

 Considering that the mediation agreement was concluded based on and in compliance with the principles of voluntariness, confidentiality, and cooperation, the court approved it on April 23. 



Detention of ProTenge Editor-in-Chief Jamila Maricheva 


On the evening of April 24, ProTenge's editor-in-chief, Jamila Maricheva, was detained in Almaty during a jog and taken to the police station, where she spent nearly an hour.  

"They picked me up in the evening. I offered to come in tomorrow with a lawyer, review all the documents, and sign them. But they refused. They invited me into the car and reminded me about the article on disobedience to police officers. Very politely, but they still brought me to the Bostandyk District police station", Maricheva reported. 

The next day, the Almaty Police Department stated that Maricheva was detained for spreading false information on the ProTenge Telegram channel, and an administrative protocol was drawn up against her. The publication in question was a post in support of Radio Azattyq journalists, which appeared on ProTenge's Telegram channel in January. 

President of the Adil Soz Foundation, commenting on the situation with Jamila Maricheva, noted that it is important to distinguish between opinion and "false information". 

"Regarding the accusations against the resource, I would like to add that the qualification under Article 456-2 of the Administrative Code, in my opinion, will not withstand criticism and a fair trial, as procedurally judges should distinguish between "opinion" the censorship of which is constitutionally prohibited, and "false information", said the head of the Foundation. 

On April 26, Minister of Culture and Information Aida Balayeva explained that ProTenge had spread false information about the reasons for the refusal to accredit Radio Azattyq journalists, claiming it was due to amendments in the draft law "On Mass Media." In fact, the refusal was due to violations of the accreditation rules in force at that time. 


Also in April: 


It became known in April that pre-trial investigations under Article 274 of the Penal Code of Kazakhstan, "Dissemination of Knowingly False Information", were conducted in March in connection with posts supporting Radio Azattyq journalists published on the Telegram channels ProTenge and "Obozhayu". The investigations were terminated due to the absence of criminal offenses. 


On April 1, the creator and author of the Telegram channel "Dikaya Orda," Daniyar Adilbekov, was detained and subsequently arrested with a court sanction. The journalist is under investigation for "Knowingly False Reporting" and "Dissemination of Knowingly False Information". 




The monitoring was prepared according to reports to correspondents of the «Adil Soz» Foundation and information from open sources. 

Head of the Monitoring Service of the «Adil Soz» Foundation - Elena Tsoy 

Email: lena@adilsoz.kz 

For all monitoring-related inquiries, you can also contact: info@adilsoz.kz  

Ask your question