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Kyrgyz Civil Society in Danger: Call for Support towards International Community by Georgian Civil Society Organizations

22 June 2023

In the coming days it is expected that the Kyrgyz government will adopt the legislative package, collectively known as the “Russian law”, which includes legal amendments to the Law on Non-Commercial Organizations and amendments to the Criminal Code of Kyrgyz Republic.[1] The legislative amendment was introduced with first hearings without appropriate engagement of the civil society and it introduces criminal responsibility for common civic activism, as well as introduces the discriminatory treatment of the NGOs and charity organizations, enabling government to interfere in their work and even shut-down the organizations. This poses substantial risk in shutting down free civil society in Kyrgyzstan amid already existing repressive laws, by endangering the freedom of speech, freedom of association, as well as hampering the normal work of critical media, civil society and civic activists.  


According to the analysis of the Kyrgyz lawyers, civil society and other experts, the amendment package is about 90% identical with the 2012 so-called “Agent law” introduced in Russia (which was judged as contradicting the international principles of law in the decision of the ECHR[2] in June 2022),[3] and therefore contradicts the international norms of law (including Articles 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, Article 22 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights. The legislative amendment in Kyrgyzstan was heavily criticized in OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission reports, which reiterated that adoption of such legal amendments will cause shutdown of independent media, civil society, and will introduce total control of the government over the civil society at large. 


In the past few months, the repressions against the Kyrgyz civil society – media and the NGOs has substantially increased, including criminal persecution, extraditions, multi-million court cases, smear campaigns and cyber bullying by fake social media accounts, as well as organized protests against the free civil society, where threats of violence were voiced openly, without appropriate intervention by the police. In the past year alone, the rating of Reporters without Borders, Kyrgyzstan has dropped by 50 points in a single year, taking 122th spot among 180 countries.


OSCE/ODIHR, Venice Commission have already directly expressed their concern over the initiated legal amendments, along with 8 international organizations – International Partnership for Human Rights, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Front Line Defenders, Freedom Now, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), World Organization Against Torture, all of which recognized the amendments as dangerous for the civil society of Kyrgyzstan.


We, the civil society of Georgia – media, NGOs, activists, personally know the dangers and risks of such shrinking of the space for civil society, struggling through the similar developments since February 2023 when the similar bill was introduced in Georgia. It is clear that the challenges facing our countries follow the same pattern and thus must be answered with joint efforts, to maintain hard-won independence, democracy and human rights in our countries at the time, where each island of freedom represents substantial hope for human rights activists in the region. We call upon our international partners – international and national organizations, media, organizations and activists, to join in supporting Kyrgyz media and civil society through among others, spreading the information and mobilizing international community against deterioration of the human rights violations and against repressive laws in Kyrgyzstan, as prevention of such developments in other countries, including in Georgia. 


June 20, 2023


In Kyrgyz News (in Russian): 

 How the legal amendments threaten all internet users, June 6/2023, Hyperlink (24KG media).

 Expert analysis on legal amendments, comparison with Russian law, and its purpose, June 5/2023, Hyperlink (Kaktus Media).    

 “Violates Constitution, international commitments” – experts on legal amendments, June 5/2023, Hyperlink (Kaktus Media). 

 Address of the Activists to the initiators of the legal amendments, June 2/2023, Hyperlink (Vesti Kyrgyzstan media).

 NGO coalition and media in Kyrgyzstan address Embassies of foreign countries to stop issuing visas to initiators of the legal amendments, May 30/2023, Hyperlink, (Vesti Kyrgyzstan). 



    Caucasus Open Space (COS)

    Democracy Research Institute (DRI)

    Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

    Franklin Club

    iFact (Investigative Journalists’ Team)

    Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics

     SOVLAB (Soviet Past Research Laboratory)

    Georgian Society for Psychotrauma


    Rights Georgia

    Qvemo Qartli media (

    International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)

     Femina Fund

    Ilia’s Legal House (Iliasi)

    Mtskheta-Mtianeti Regional Hub

     Association of Disabled Women and Mothers of Disabled Children DEA

     Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG)

     Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)

     Women’s Association Gvirila


     Media Center Kakheti

     Governance Monitoring Center (GMC)

     Women Association Acting Together

     Solidarity Community

     Georgian Civil Development Association (GCDA)

     Eastern European Centre for Multiparty Democracy (EECMD)

     Internews Georgia

     Media Ombudsman

    Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)

    Union of Democrat Meskhs

    Media Club

    Media Development Foundation (MDF)

    Georgian Regional Media Association (GRMA)

    Women’s Fund Sokhumi 

    Journalism resource center

    TOK TV

    Meeting Place Dmanisi

    Student Youth Council 

    Center for Participation and Development

    Alliance of Regional Broadcasters 


    Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF)


    Georgian Rural Council 

     Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)

    Prevention for Progress (PFP)

     Equality Movement

    Democracy Defenders

    Chavchavadze Center

    Civil Solidarity Fund 

    EuroClub Kvareli 

    Mtsvaneebi – the Georgian Greens

    Students against Russian Law 

   Youth for Democratic Changes 

    Civil Society Development Centre (CSDC)

    Media April 

    Center for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health – Tanadgoma (Kakhetis Khma)

    Media House – Samkhretis Karibche 

    Kutaisi Post

    Akhalkalaki Business Center

    Aliq Media Georgia 

    Puspussy Team 

    Center for Social Sciences 

    Taso Foundation 

[1] The bill was initiated and re-initiated multiple times since 2014 in various forms, but same content, first being introduced in 2014, May 26. 

[2] Case of Ecodefence and Others vs. Russia, Judjement on application #9988/13, June 14/2022, available in English here

[3] “While the Kyrgyz Republic is not a Member State of the Council of Europe (hereinafter “CoE”), as a member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (hereinafter “Venice Commission”, “VC”), CoE instruments, relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “ECtHR”) and Venice Commission’s documents are also of relevance and may serve as useful reference documents from a comparative perspective.” – Point 14 (page 9) in the Opinion on the Rules of Procedure of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, published by the OSCE/ODIHR on May 24/2023. Full text available in in English here.