Kazakstan has enjoyed the same flourishing of media as have
most of the other former Soviet republics. To some extent, the
republic also continues to be influenced by the Moscow media,
although changes in currency and the simple passage of time are
steadily reducing that influence. Also similar to the processes
in other republics is a certain erosion of the freedom that the
media enjoyed in the earlier days of independence. Although the
government always has retained some control, there was a certain
tendency to view the proper relationship between the media and
government as adversarial. However, Nazarbayev steadily chipped
away at Kazakstan's central press, which as a result became more
noticeably pro-government in 1994 and 1995. The 1995 constitution
guarantees freedom of ideas and expression and explicitly bans
censorship. In practice, however, the government influences the
press in several ways. Government presses (the only ones available)
have refused to publish private newspapers for various "technical"
reasons; financial pressure has been brought through court cases
or investigations of a given newspaper's sponsors; and, in some
cases, outright censorship has been exercised for "security reasons."
Strictly enforced laws forbid personal criticism of the president
or members of the president's family.
The major official newspapers are the Russian-language Kazakstanskaya
pravda and Sovety Kazakstana , which are supported
by the government. Nominally, the former is the organ of the Council
of Ministers and the latter that of the parliament. The newspaper
Ekspress K has taken some independent positions, although
in the mid-1990s the editor in chief was a senior official in
SNEK, the presidential political party. The small-edition papers
Respublika and NKK are somewhat more oppositional.
The first was the organ of the Socialist Party until it was sold
to commercial interests, and the second is the organ of the People's
Congress Party. Respublika is said to be underfinanced,
but NKK enjoys the resources of Olzhas Suleymenov's large
Nevada-Semipalatinsk commercial organization. Panorama
, perhaps the largest independent newspaper in the republic, is
owned by some of the largest business interests in the republic
and is oriented toward political and economic issues (on which
it generally takes an objective view). The Karavan commercial
organization publishes two newspapers, Karavan and ABV
(short for Almaty Business News). The former inclines toward tabloid-style
muckraking, while the latter is entirely commercial in character.
The electronic media remain under state control. Many private
production companies exist, but access to television and radio
is still controlled by the State Television and Radio Broadcasting
Corporation (see Transportation and Telecommunications, this ch.).
As it does most activities, ethnicity complicates media operations.
Inevitably the nationality of the owners of a newspaper or television
production company affects how its product is received. The most
obvious example is that of the newspaper Karavan . Although
its muckraking approach is similar to that taken by newspapers
in Moscow and Bishkek, the fact that the paper is Russian-owned
makes it seem, in the context of Kazakstan, to be more vividly
partisan. In early 1995, a fire in the Karavan warehouse
prompted rumors of sabotage, which never were substantiated.
Data as of March 1996