[아시아엔=아크마랄 사바타르(Akmaral Sabatar) 키르기스스탄 <NTS 채널> 기자] 키르기스스탄의 언론 관련 투자법이 논란 대상이 되고 있다. 최근 키르기스스탄 의회는 외국인 혹은 단체가 국내 언론사를 소유하는 것을 금지하고 외국인이 35% 이상의 지분을 장악한 언론사의 활동을 금지하는 법안에 대해 심사했다.
입법 과정에 참여한 의원들은 “이 법안이 국가안보와 테러위협 방지를 위한 것”이라고 주장했다. 찬성파인 코조베크 리스파예브(Kozhobek Ryspaev) 의원은 “현재 테러단체들이 방송매체를 장악하고 테러행위를 찬양하는데 활용하는 게 사실”이라며 “미국과 프랑스 등 선진국도 외국자본의 언론장악을 규제하고 있다”고 강조했다. 그는 “35%의 지분으로도 외국인 투자자의 권익을 충분히 보호할 수 있다”고 주장했다.
반면 시민운동가들과 언론인들은 이 법안의 진짜 배경은 ‘언론탄압’이라고 주장한다. 자나르 아카예브 (Zhanar Akayev) 의원은 의회토론에서 유로뉴스나 ORT 등의 해외언론이 키르기스스탄의 국가안보에 어떤 부정적인 영향을 끼쳤는지 등에 대해 질의했다. 인권운동가인 디나라 오슈라쿠노바(Dinara Oshurakhunova)는 언론이 정부와 몇몇 재벌들에게 좌우될 것으로 우려했다.?언론인들은 연일 집회를 열어 이 법안에 대해 반대하고, 일부 법조인들도 “법안이 기업가와 투자자들의 권익을 침해할 것”이라고 했다. 일각에서는 법안이 키르기스스탄의 대외 이미지를 안 좋게 할 것이라고 우려했다.?연이은 논란에 의회는 법안을 재심사하기로 했다. 이에 따라 법안의 일부 내용이 수정돼 상정될 가능성이 제기되고 있다.?(번역 윤석희 <아시아엔> 뉴욕특파원)
Kyrgyzstan discusses the Bill Banning Foreign Media Ownership
In Kyrgyzstan, a debated draft bill concerning the media came into agenda.
The Kyrgyz Parliament has prepared an initial approval to a bill banning foreign individuals and organizations from owning and establishing media outlets in the country.The proposed legislation also bans domestic activities of media outlets financially supported by foreign countries.
A group of MPs of the Jogorku Kenesh (the parliament) wrote the sections relevant to the media. According to the MPs the document primarily targeted security. The draft law on restricting foreign funding has caused harsh discussions in the parliament and also among civil society activists. Many journalists saw the document as suffocating the freedom of speech in the country.
According to the initiators, all countries naturally protect their media space and Kyrgyzstan should not be a platform for the celebration of terrorist acts with the help of information technology. One of the initiators, the MP Kozhobek Ryspaev said that the bill aims to protect internal and external security while speaking at a meeting of the parliamentary session. A group of MPs declared that they are not going to strangle freedom of speech.
“All we’re talking about is the power of information. We speak about the information wars. The draft law refers only to television because TV is the biggest force today. According to opinion polls, the proportion of TV’s effect is still high-more than 90%. Our bill aims solely at protecting the national interests of Kyrgyzstan. We all see that the terrorists and their supporting structures are very rich. They will find it easy to buy not just one, but a lot of channels. How many wars and how much blood is on their conscience! Even in the United States, foreigners are allowed to own only 25 percent of the TV channels. And in France – only 20%,”- said MP Kozhobek Ryspaev.
The MP made it clear that after the finalization of the bill, it mandates that citizens and legal entities of Kyrgyzstan must own at least 65 percent of the shares (stakes) of the television broadcaster. “And foreigners will not have more than 35 percent. That is, not enough to control the Kyrgyz people, but foreign partners can protect their investments with their blocking share,” said Kozhobek Ryspaev. He referred to the State Agency for Communication’s 19 licensed operators of cable multi-channel broadcasting. “This means that if each package includes 200 channels – the total number of channels will easily exceed 4000, and the number is constantly growing! And we should know that the owners of the broadcasters will feel responsible to the Kyrgyz people. This is for the security of our country,” summed up the MP.
But despite such arguments, some MPs are against the bill. For example, according to the MP Zhanar Akayev, the document will not bring anything good to the media. Speaking at a meeting of the parliamentary session, the MP has assumed that the bill can be copied from other countries. MPs also called on their colleagues to pay particular attention to this initiative. Akayev questioned the initiators: “You say that the bill is necessary for the security of the country. Did you conduct a study in which media financed from abroad, threatens the country’s security? We show such channels as Euronews and ORT. What will happen to these channels? Two times the media community held meetings on the subject and said that none of their proposals have been taken into account. Isn’t this document 100% copied from the Russian law?” In reply, the initiators said that they relied on international experience and not a disordered draft bill from Russian colleagues.
Many experts point out that draft bill is “raw”. According to them, there are many ways to get around it. They ask if that is the case why to pass this law and create the image of Kyrgyzstan as a totalitarian country in front of the world community, where tough laws are stacked against the media?”
A human rights activist Dinara Oshurakhunova, predicts that such bills are aimed against freedom, and there will be much more. “If this does not pass, they will initiate another and another. This bill is directed against the independence of the media. As a result, all media will depend on public funding.With a lean budget, we can lose a lot of newspapers, websites, and TV.These media outlets will go into private hands, and the oligarchs, who can pay will call the tune. Media space is narrowed considerably,”says the human rights activist.
Media representatives staged a rally outside the White House to urge MPs to reject the document. But it did not help. The media community continues to ask MPs give up their ideas and stop supporting the limitation of the media, (at least, before the adoption of the Information Policy Framework.)
Even many lawyers say that the bill is contrary to certain provisions of the law, in particular, the bill may contradict laws “On the protection of the rights of entrepreneurs,” and laws “On investments in the Kyrgyz Republic.”
“In accordance with these laws, the state guarantees entrepreneurs, regardless of their form of ownership, equal rights and opportunities for access to financial resources. The state must also provide a fair and equal legal status to any investor and promote the protection of investments and the development of competition,” lawyers say.
Although the document was passed by the parliament at first reading, the bill will be reconsidered by the Jogorku Kenesh because of the protests. According to some reports, a group of MPs who initiated the bill plans to ease some of the languages in the document.