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CA, Jan 26 (Central Asia Newswire). Press freedom organization Reporters without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday released its annual global index, with the Paris-based organization criticizing Central Asian states for their crackdown on journalists.

To compile the index, RSF considers the number of attacks on journalists, the efforts of the state to prevent publication of negative reports, and the level of self-censorship in each country.
Kyrgyzstan ranks highest of the five, tied for 108th out of 179 states ranked and tying with Bolivia.
Tajikistan is tied for 122nd with Algeria and Malaysia, while Kazakhstan occupying the 154th rank with Libya.
Uzbekistan comes in at 157th, just one notch above Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan comes in third from last at 177th.
Every Central Asian state except Turkmenistan rose in the rankings, but not due to any improvements in these countries’ press environments, RSF said, but because other countries fell so far.
In Kyrgyzstan, RSF says the country is successfully moving beyond the political instability and violence of 2010.
“The media freedom situation nonetheless continues to be very fragile, with physical attacks on journalists and repressive initiatives by parliament,” RSF said in the report.
The international organization says that the press situation in Tajikistan is hampered by authorities repeatedly harping on the threats of Islamic extremism and a return to domestic conflict as a reason to limit reporters’ rights.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have made no improvement in press freedom, though both states are now focusing their efforts on muzzling internet activity.
Kazakhstan, though it jumped more than ten spots, has increased its control over the press, RSF says.
“In a bid to maintain a facade of stability at all costs, the Kazakh authorities have stepped up their persecution of the few independent voices and are trying to gain control of the internet,” the report says.

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