Kazakhstan Fines Advertising Agency for ‘Moral Offense’
In response to a court in Almaty, Kazakhstan, upholding a $150,000 penalty for “moral damages” against creators of a nightclub advertisement showing Russian and Kazakh national heroes kissing, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“This case has been absurd from the start, since authorities in Kazakhstan have a constitutional and international obligation to protect freedom of expression, even when it offends.” said Robert Herman, vice president for regional programs at Freedom House. “Freedom of speech means protecting even what is unpopular and controversial.”
In August 2014, a Kazakhstani advertising agency created an advertisement for an Almaty nightclub showing the 19th-century Kazakh bard Kurmangazy kissing the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Several lawsuits subsequently targeted the advertising agency because of the post. In October students at the Kurmangazy Conservatory in Almaty won a judgment of roughly $150,000 against the agency for “moral damages.”
Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, Partly Free in Freedom of the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.61 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2014.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.