Uncensored: The Kyrgyzstan Project

Credit: James O'Brien/OCCRP
Published: March 11, 2024

Kyrgyzstan was once the most democratic of Central Asia’s former Soviet republics, with genuine elections, a vigorous civil society, and a vibrant media scene.

Now, all that has changed. Under a president who combines populist rhetoric with Russian-style methods of control, multiple independent media outlets have come under extreme pressure or been forced to shut down — including OCCRP’s two main partners in the country, Kloop and Temirov Live.

Kloop’s website has been blocked by authorities and the entity it uses to operate was liquidated by court order in February, with prosecutors using testimony from psychiatrists to argue that the outlet “affected people’s mental health” by “upsetting” them with negative information. Temirov Live has fared even worse: 11 of its current and former journalists were arrested in January and are still behind bars, accused of inciting unrest, although authorities have offered scant evidence for the claim. Its founder, Bolot Temirov, has been stripped of his passport and forced into exile.

At the time of their arrests, several of the detained journalists were working on stories with OCCRP. Our journalists in Kyrgyzstan and abroad, along with over a dozen other international media outlets, have come together to continue their investigative work and press for their release. This page will bring together our coverage of Kyrgyzstan’s crackdown on press freedom and a series of upcoming investigations that pick up where our jailed colleagues left off.

With Journalists Behind Bars, Kyrgyzstan Enters New Era of Repression

The authorities have accused Temirov Live, a respected investigative outlet, of inciting mass unrest, and jailed nearly a dozen of its current and former employees. A palpable sense of fear has descended on this country, once known as the freest in the region.

11 March 2024 Read the article

Previous Investigations

Signs of Political Motivation Permeate Case Against Kyrgyz Investigative Journalist

Kyrgyz authorities allege Bolot Temirov is a drug user and used falsified identification documents. But case files obtained by reporters suggest a high-level effort led by the GKNB security agency to silence him.

8 July 2022 Read the article

Inside Kyrgyzstan’s Campaign to Silence Bolot Temirov

A leading independent journalist says police planted drugs on him as retribution for his exposés of corruption. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s how sex, lies, and secret surveillance were deployed against one of the country’s top investigative outlets.

31 January 2022 Read the article

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

And get our latest investigations on organized crime and corruption delivered straight to your inbox.