Yesterday, October 29, was the so-called “Silence Day” in Kyrgyzstan, the last day before the presidential elections. At this day any political agitation is prohibited in the traditional media. But the law has no hold on Internet. The main representative of the Russian newspaper “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” Igor Shestakov said [ru]:
There is no silence day at Facebook today! There is political heat around candidates. Most of my Facebook friends heavily criticize the main candidates. I think that the candidate “No one” will win today!
In August the presidential race in Kyrgyzstan had an impressive start: 83 candidates were registered to participate in the presidential elections. Tomorrow Kyrgyzstanis will vote for one of 16 candidates only.
The social networks were heavily used for the agitation by the candidates during the agitation period from September 25 till October 28. Most candidates have registered their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and posted their elections agendas for the discussions at the largest Kyrgyz internet forum Diesel. Moreover, the First National Channel of Kyrgyzstan in collaboration with the Internews Network organization used the forum to collect the questions for the presidential debates on air [ru]. They created [ru] a topic at the forum where every user can post his or her question for the candidates.
Even during the “Silence Day”, the Kyrgyz Internet didn’t pay attention to the restriction of the law: it was full of discussions, arguments and predictions.
The censorship law was in action and all foreign TV-channels are aired in the record to avoid an influence of the foreign countries on the presidential race in Kyrgyzstan. So, a few people are just happy to watch their favorites TV channels soon. Azamat Tynaev, the editor of Chalkan.kg agency posted [ru] at his Facebook:
Hooray! A day after tomorrow I will watch again Euronews, K +, RBC, CNN, “Week” with Marianna Maksimovskaya, and other TV-programs. Idiotic censorship law will finally stop running.
Many users were still unsure whether they should vote. Facebook user Urmat Nasykulov posted [ru]:
I have two inner candidates. One is voting for nobody, another is going to vote for one of the candidates. The have equal positions now. What about you?
The human rights activist Ilya Lukash tweeted [ru]:
Probably, I won't vote. I apologize for my indifference. It will be my first elections which I will abstain consciously.
The head of the Central Asian Free Market Institute Mirsuljan Namazaliev tweeted [ru]:
Say no to the administrative source whosoever uses it! The elections should be fair!
Nowadays the Kyrgyz Internet is full of human rights activists, citizen journalists and whistle-blowers, and the virtual Kyrgyzstanis are well-aware of the law violations. Many online agencies will provide twits about the elections day upon the hash tags #freekg, #kg2011, #shailoo and #shailoo2011. Some users will use the crowd-sourced map on elections violations [en]. There is even a site [ru] to follow the elections agendas of all candidates and check later if their promises become true.
The election day is taking place today. Updated reports on it will follow shortly.