Media in Transition: Coverage of the 2011 Election in Kyrgyzstan and Beyond

Over 40 people attended CIMA/NED’s discussion on December 6, 2011, that focused on the media’s coverage of the recent presidential election in Kyrgyzstan, including prospects for press freedom. In 2010, Roza Otunbayeva’s provisional government came to power after political instability and further tightening of civil liberties by then-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fueled protests leading to his ouster. Since then, Otunbayeva has slowly opened the space for media, allowing Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to broadcast again on state radio, reopening suspended newspapers, and converting the state television outlet into a public service broadcaster with a supervisory board comprising independent journalists and representatives of civil society. The discussion addressed if the political landscape has stabilized and if conditions for press freedom have improved? Other questions explored by the panel were: Was coverage of the October election better or worse compared with coverage of the parliamentary elections in 2010? Was there a difference in reporting among broadcast, print, and online media outlets? Panelists examined the challenges to independent media leading up to the October election and the outlook for press freedom in the wake of a decade of political instability and polarization.

Media in Transition:

Coverage of the 2011 Election in Kyrgyzstan and Beyond

Hosted by the Center for International Media Assistance

and the Russia and Eurasia Program at the National Endowment for Democracy


Alisher Khamidov

Johns Hopkins University

Erica Marat

American University

Mariya Rasner

Internews Network

(View PowerPoint presentation here.)

Moderated by:

Miriam Lanskoy

National Endowment for Democracy

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2-3:30 p.m.

(Light refreshments will be served)

1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800

Washington, DC 20004

About the speakers:

Alisher Khamidov is a lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. He began his career as director of the Osh Media Resource Center, a non-profit, independent media association in southern Kyrgyzstan, and has worked for several non-governmental organizations and think tanks, including the Central Asian Media Support Project, the University of Notre Dame’s Sanctions and Security Project, and the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. Khamidov has written about religious and ethnic conflict in the Ferghana Valley and political developments in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia and is a frequent contributor to Eurasianet and Transitions Online. He earned his doctorate in Russian and Eurasian studies from SAIS, a master’s degree in international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a bachelor’s degree from Osh State University in Kyrgyzstan.

Erica Marat is an adjunct professor at American University and a contributor to Voice of America’s Russian service. Previously, she was a research fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, which is affiliated with the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. She is an expert on security issues in Central Asia, with a focus on military, national, and regional defense, as well as state-crime relations in Eurasia. Marat has published widely, both in peer review journals and policy-oriented forums. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the American University of Central Asia, a master’s degree in political sociology from the Central European University in Hungary, and a doctorate in political science from the University of Bremen in Germany. She is a regular contributor to the Central Asia–Caucasus Analyst and to the Eurasia Daily Monitor. Her most recent book is The Military and the State in Central Asia: From Red Army to Independence.

Mariya Rasner has been Internews Network’s country director in Kyrgyzstan for the past four years, where she oversees several ongoing projects, including television content production and distribution, journalism training, and legal advocacy on behalf of the media. In 2010, in response to political and interethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, she helped launch emergency press centers in Osh and Jalalabad along with two new TV programs–a regional news production and a youth show. Rasner, a native of Ukraine, earned a master’s degree in foreign affairs from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She has worked as a journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Echo of Moscow and has contributed to National Public Radio, WomensENews and the Moscow Times.

About the moderator:

Miriam Lanskoy is director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2003, she earned her doctorate in international affairs from Boston University following her dissertation on the Russian presidency, Chechen wars, and social and political problems of the North Caucasus. She has fourteen years of experience in political analysis and democracy promotion in post-Soviet Eurasia, and in 2005 she became a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has published articles in the Journal of Democracy, SAIS Review, and the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. She has also spoken on numerous panels and conferences about political developments in Russia and Eurasia, testified before Congress, and appeared on the PBS Newshour. In 2010, Lanskoy coauthored The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won and Lost with former Chechen Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov.

The Center for International Media Assistance, an initiative of the National Endowment for Democracy, brings together a broad range of media experts with the goal of strengthening the support for and improving the effectiveness of media assistance programs by providing information, building networks, and conducting research on the indispensable role independent media play in creating sustainable democracies around the world.