Adil Nurmakov is a 28-year old political scientist and a journalist from Almaty, who started as a blogger in 2004. He writes his own Livejournal adam_kesher (ru) and is a regular author on neweurasia. Recently, Adil wrote an open letter to the mayor of Almaty about the situation with the increasing amount of cars in Almaty and appealing to open the car parks. Adil collected 40 signatures from bloggers, sent the letter signed “the blogosphere” to the mayor’s office with the link to the survey in his blog. He is still waiting for the reaction.
Q: What is a blog and citizens’ journalism for you?
Blog is a hobby that became a functional tool; a simple personal page, now it’s the means to express my opinion and find the like-minded people. I personally think that the citizens’ journalism is one of the ways to start the discussion on certain things, to express your opinion, to make the blogosphere interested and provoke it to discuss the issues of social importance.
Q: What topics are you interested it, how do you choose what to write about?
I am interested in topics, which, as I think, can make a precedent and show a tendency for overall development of the society. It includes politics, democracy, society, business. At the same time I like organizing “flash-mobs” sometimes and post fun surveys, humor and the news of show-business. I have one simple principle – I write about things that I am interested in today.
Q: What does the audience mean for you, do you have any goals when you write about politics and social issues, are you trying to attract people’s attention, appeal to them, propagate something or create a feeling of a community?
To be honest with you, I don’t see blog as a propaganda tool – not because it cannot be one at all, but because it cannot be one in Kazakhstan. There are other channels for that, the more effective ones, and blog is just one pleasant but not irreplaceable addition to them. So far.
Q: I remember that Irina Yasina (Open Russia) said at the blogging conference in Moscow that the protest in Russia goes online, in the digital space, because people are afraid to go protest on the streets. You did not agree with her, why?
Transferring the protest online is a big achievement of the current Kremlin regime. Russia has developed accessible internet, and flourishing of the “virtual opposition” coincided with the legislative restrictions on peaceful assembly, worsening of the situation with the freedom of speech on TV, suppressing of the activities of youth radical and democratic organizations. As a result, the regime got a “protest” and “freedom of speech” in blogs, i.e. the situation, when everyone feels busy – the activists feel they are useful for a society, when they update their blogs; their readers feel they are informed citizens; and the government is calm because they know that not many people will come out to protest. Those who do come, will be brutally suppressed by the police, this will be reported in great details and with photos by the bloggers-activists and the next time there will be even less people. Besides, the “protest” in blogosphere is quite easy to manage – some people think that memes widely discussed in Russian blogosphere, were created by the special services to distract people’s attention from other, more important issues (for instance, “preved”, Putin kissing a boy’s belly, “pervonah”, etc).
Q: Who is your audience?
The readers of my blog are the office youth, artists, journalists, students and Kazakhstanis who live abroad.
Q: Do you think the law enforcement agencies take interest in you? Do you risk when you publish articles about corruption in Kazakhstan, or authoritarianism?
I don’t think there is a serious risk, but I am sure the special services take interest in me and they know my identity. Several times I received provocative messages – not threats, but quite unpleasant messages, which pushed me into publishing a disclaimer on my blog and revealing my identity. Publicity is one of the means of protection.
Q: Do you think it is ok to earn by blogging?
I think that any legal means of earning money is normal, and if this money is earned by being creative, I especially do not see any problem.
Q: What is the state of the citizens’ journalism in Kazakhstan now?
Citizens’ journalism, in my opinion, is something that does not yet exist in my country. People do not yet feel a creative part of the Net. In general, the state of the citizens’ journalism in Kazakhstan reflects the level of people’s civic consciousness, and the quality of the traditional journalism.
The future of the Internet, blogs and citizens’ journalism in Kazakhstan will depend – in addition to technical things like the access to high-speed Internet – on the development of society, on the relations between the government and the people. It is still difficult to access the prospects of these relations, therefore, it is difficult to answer whether the trials of journalists will continue or whether the atmosphere will be freer.
Q: How can international organizations help improve the situation with the freedom of speech in Kazakhstan?
The international organizations do a lot to promote freedom of speech in my country – the international NGOs speak against the negative tendencies in legal reforms, and the OSCE regularly consults on current problems. However, all measures have either the function of the “good wishes” or recommendations, which are not even necessary to observe. The West cannot influence anything in Kazakhstan being afraid to lose any alternative to Russian energy resources.