In Kazakhstan this week, the film director Oliver Stone presented his latest documentary, Qazaq: History of the Golden Man, an eight-hour hagiographic ode to the autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev—a particularly grotesque move in a country where the government has been systemically stifling media ever since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Today, Kazakhstan has only a handful of independent traditional media outlets left, which lack the ability to cover the country’s vibrant sociopolitical life, something that has thrived despite authoritarianism. The gap, however, is now being filled by alternative media: Scores of bloggers are using YouTube, Telegram, and Instagram to report on events and to contradict the narrative served by pro-government traditional media. Alternative journalism is blooming, raising questions about how far it can go before the Kazakh government pulls the plug.
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