The hearing in Bishkek's Lenin District Court on March 24.
BISHKEK -- Bishkek's Lenin District Court has ordered an examination of the language used in a video the government cited when it halted the operations of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, saying it contains elements of inciting ethnic hatred and war propaganda, an allegation the broadcaster has rejected.
Judge Cholpon Karimbaeva on March 24 agreed to a request by the prosecutor to check if the video, produced by Current Time, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice of America and aired on September 16, 2022, uses language that "predominantly" took the position of the Tajik side.
RFE/RL President and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Fly has said the broadcaster "takes our commitment to balanced reporting seriously" and that after a review of the content in question, "no violation of our standards" was found.
Karimbaeva ruled the hearing will resume after the examination of the video is completed.
RFE/RL lawyers objected to the request, saying the Culture Ministry should have undertaken such an examination before blocking the websites and that ordering one -- even though no criminal case has been initiated in the case -- is against the law.
According to the ministry, the request was made after the service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, refused to take down the video, which focused on clashes last year along a disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
The authorities have said the decision was based on the Law on Protection from False Information, legislation that drew widespread criticism when it was adopted in August 2021.
Radio Azattyk's bank account in Bishkek also was frozen; in November, Kyrgyz authorities suspended the parliamentary accreditations of 11 RFE/RL correspondents.
The Kyrgyz government's decision has been criticized by domestic and international human rights watchdogs, Kyrgyz politicians, celebrities, intellectuals, journalists, lawmakers, and rights activists, who have called for the government to repeal it.
Earlier this month, Bishkek's Administrative Court rejected an appeal launched by RFE/RL that sought to have the October move to block the sites overturned. The court did not explain the reasoning behind its ruling.