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Journalists in Trouble: World Press Freedom Day Edition

A Kyrgyz court approves request to shut down Radio Azattyk; RFE/RL renews call for the release of imprisoned journalists in Belarus and Russian-occupied Crimea; and more.

L-R: Imprisoned RFE/RL journalists Ihar Losik, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Vladyslav Yesypenko
Imprisoned RFE/RL journalists Ihar Losik, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Vladyslav Yesypenko. (RFE/RL).

KYRGYZSTAN: Court Approves Kyrgyz Government’s Request to Shutter RFE/RL’s Operations

On April 27, a Bishkek court approved a request from the Kyrgyz Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy to shut down the operations of RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, over RFE/RL’s refusal to take down a September 2022 report about clashes at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. RFE/RL will appeal the court decision and continues to operate in Kyrgyzstan, reaching audiences with truthful information.

The ministry’s request represents a significant escalation in the Kyrgyz government’s ongoing crackdown on RFE/RL since October 2022. Since October 2022, Kyrgyz authorities have blocked Radio Azattyk’s websites and frozen the Service’s bank account.

“RFE/RL will appeal the court’s outrageous decision,” said RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly in response to the news. “Our history has shown us that when people want truthful information that is censored by their government, they will find ways to access it.”

The ruling was condemned by the U.S. State Department; U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD)Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Jim Risch (R-ID); U.S. Reps Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Bill Keating (D-MA); and international watchdogs including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect JournalistsFreedom House, the International Press Institute, and Reporters Without Borders. RFE/RL is grateful for their support.

We urge our supporters to condemn the court’s decision, call for it to be overturned on appeal, urge the Kyrgyz authorities to lift the restrictions on Radio Azattyk, and allow journalists to work freely.


“Moving in the wrong direction:” Catch up on last week’s panel discussion on the deteriorating environment for journalists in Azerbaijan, with remarks by RFE/RL’s Acting Editor-in-Chief and Azerbaijani Service Director.

KAZAKHSTAN: RFE/RL Websites Throttled During Elections

An April 28 report by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) found that RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service websites have been throttled since September 2022, including during presidential elections in November 2022 and parliamentary elections in March 2023. The report noted that similar throttling was temporarily in place for the website of Current Time, RFE/RL’s 24/7 Russian-language digital network.

Imprisoned RFE/RL journalists Ihar Losik, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Vladyslav Yesypenko
Imprisoned RFE/RL journalists Ihar Losik, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Vladyslav Yesypenko

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY: RFE/RL Continues to Advocate for Our Imprisoned Journalists

On World Press Freedom Day, RFE/RL renews its call for the release of our wrongfully imprisoned journalists: Ihar Losik and Andrey Kuznechyk in Belarus, and Vladyslav Yesypenko in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Ihar Losik

Ihar Losik is a blogger and contributor for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service. He has been imprisoned since June 2020 and is currently serving a 15-year sentence. Ihar’s wife Darya Losik was detained in October 2022 on charges related to her advocacy for her husband’s freedom. With both parents in prison, the Losiks’ four-year-old daughter Paulina is in the care of her maternal grandparents.

Andrey Kuznechyk

Andrey Kuznechyk is a web editor for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service. In November 2021, four unidentified men in plain clothes detained Andrey while he was on a bike ride near his home in Minsk. They searched his home, where he lives with his wife and two children, proceeding to seize his devices and cash. Andrey is currently serving a six-year sentence in a maximum-security prison.

Vladyslav Yesypenko

Vladyslav Yesypenko is a contributor for Crimea.Realities, a reporting project of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. In March 2021, he was detained by FSB agents in Simferopol, Russian-occupied Crimea. During his trial, Vladyslav testified that he was tortured with electric shocks to extract a false confession. He is currently serving a five-year sentence, separated from his wife Kateryna and seven-year-old daughter Stefania.


  1. Click here to tweet your support for Ihar, Andrey, and Vladyslav
  2. Follow @RFERLPress on Twitter and amplify our message
  3. Write solidarity letters to Ihar and Andrey at Penal colony No. 1. 211440, Navapolack, vulica Techničnaya 8, Belarus
  4. Forward this newsletter to a friend
  5. Reply to this email with your advocacy ideas


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