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Kyrgyzstan Has ‘Refused to Meet’ With RFE RL in Broadcast Dispute, Gedmin Says

BBC local service also yanked

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasts have been taken off the air in Kyrgyzstan.

The U.S. broadcast organization said that may mean the country’s “brief experiment with pluralism” is ending. Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia was a Soviet republic that became independent in 1991 when the USSR dissolved.

RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said suspension of radio and TV broadcasts began in early October and was initially treated as a payment dispute. “We have since traced the payments and confirmed deposit and receipt. Ten weeks have passed. Our programs remain off the air,” he said in a statement. “Kyrgyz officials have refused to meet with us to resolve the situation. Frankly, we expected more from a country trying to prove its reformist credentials in the region.”

The organization said BBC local service also has been suspended on contractual grounds.

RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service airs three hours of radio programming a day and produces two weekly prime-time television news shows.