Kazakhstan: Freedom of the Media and Political Freedoms in the Prelude to the 1999 Elections

In a new report released ahead of this week's parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Human Rights Watch charged that the government was repeating the manipulation used in the January election of President Nazarbaev. These tactics, which include the banning of opposition candidates and censoring the media will taint the polls for the lower house of parliament, to be elected on October 10. In this report, the international monitoring group methodically documents how the Kazakh government succeeded in curtailing freedom of expression, association, assembly and the right to political participation in the run-up to Presidential elections held in January. Human Rights Watch says that the government has repeated these methods in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.The 39-page report, which is based on a fact-finding mission conducted in December 1998, details the various means used to silence independent news media, to thwart efforts by opposition groups to organize, and to prevent critically-minded individuals from standing for election. The report further shows how the government directed state agencies to coerce public support for President Nazarbaev, in violation of international standards on free participation and of Kazakhstan's own election law.