Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


President Nursultan Nazarbayev's crackdown on opposition media has prompted a further deterioration of press freedom. Existing legislation criminalizes insults against the "honor and dignity" of the president. Under the 1999 Law on Confidential State Affairs, the economic interests of Nazarbayev and his family officially became state secrets. While the regime had previously used such legislation to prosecute journalists for investigating corruption, state officials have recently begun to change tactics. Over the past year, prosecutors have charged opposition reporters with a variety of crimes involving narcotics, illegal weapons, and theft. In June 2002, the daughter of a leading opposition editor died while in police custody. The woman's mother had recently published an expose on several prominent government officials. Authorities claimed the death was a suicide. In October, law enforcement officials charged investigative journalist Sergei Duvanov with the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Human rights organizations have denounced the arrest as politically motivated. Self-censorship is widespread. Threats and physical assaults against journalists frequently remain unsolved. The Nazarbayev regime controls or otherwise influences most newspapers, printing and distribution facilities, and electronic broadcasts.