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Representatives of mass media discussed the role of media within the upcoming elections during the Congress of Journalists meeting in Taraz

Journalists have discussed a new bill on elections, which is currently being debated by the national parliament, and voiced their attitude towards certain provisions having relation to the media. In particular, they argued that the bill does not stipulate who would finance the publication of election materials in the media by district and other elections commissions. In addition, they disagreed that, according to the bill, members of the press would have the right to monitor the entire voting procedure but would not be able to see how the ballot boxes are transported to the elections commissions for counting the ballots.

The head of the Congress of Journalists of Kazakhstan, Dariga Nazarbayeva [President Nursultan Nazarbayev's elder daughter; the leader of the Asar party and chairwoman of the Khabar media holding], has called on the media to cover objectively the election to the Majlis (lower house of parliament), which is due to take place in the country in the autumn.

Nazarbayeva also urged the media to inform voters on new electoral legislation "as comprehensively as possible" and advised the journalists to establish "close" cooperation with electoral commissions, which are now, as is known, formed of members of political parties and public unions.

Concerning the recently rejected Media Law, Nazarbayeva said: “The bill on the media, which has not been passed, contained not a few good provisions and articles... Therefore there is an idea that all the best from the bill on the media, which has not been passed, be included in the existing law.”

Also the Kazakh Executive Congress of Journalists announced its intention to make inquiries with the Prosecutor General’s Office, the antimonopoly agency, the government, and the Information Ministry about amendments to the law On State Procurements, which have been initiated by the state procurement agency. If the bill is made into law, there will be only one publication in the country, which will have the exclusive right to publish announcements about tenders in which government finances will be involved. In this case, nearly all media outlets will lose at least 20% of their advertisement revenues.

According to Seitkazy Matayev, the Chairman of the Kazakh Union of Journalists, the overall number of copies in which the announcements about government procurements are currently published is approximately 400,000. If the amendments are enacted, only one publication having the circulation of 30,000 copies will provide such information.

June 11, 2004. By and


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