ALMATY -- Wary of the division sowed by Kremlin propaganda, Kazakhstan's internet and television providers have taken steps to limit the broadcast of Russian propaganda channels.
Beeline Kazakhstan, one of the nation's largest private internet providers, on October 5 notified subscribers that it would no longer be broadcasting 15 Russian channels, including basic ones such as Channel One CIS, NTV-World, Russia 24 and Russia-K.
The decision was made due to shifting viewer preferences, the provider said.
The recent move came after Karaganda Region's Remstroiservis telecommunication company pulled the plug on Russian state TV channels in February.
"Dear subscribers: We oppose the war and war propaganda. We have therefore temporarily replaced the broadcasts of all Russian so-called state television channels with Khabar 24," Remstroiservis announced February 28, just days after the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The channels eventually returned on air on March 2.
Russian television is not journalism, but rather a propaganda mouthpiece, said Lukpan Akhmedyarov, an Uralsk-based author and editor in chief of the YouTube channel Prosto Zhurnalistika (Just Journalism).
"Even in broadcasting series, sporting events and comedy shows, Russian TV propagates the government's policies and inflames enmity between Russians and people from Asian countries," Akhmedyarov told Caravanserai.
"This becomes obvious if you look closely. That means that limiting the information broadcasts is too little. All our providers need to tune out Russia's media," Akhmedyarov said
Kazakhstan's big mistake is that it should have done this long ago, he added.
Public opinion in Kazakh society experienced a monumental split over Russia's invasion between those who consume Russian content and those who don't, according to Akhmedyarov.
"Unfortunately, by the time the war started, the people who consume Russian content were already brainwashed by the Russian propagandists," he said.
Now it is vital for Kazakh content producers to give people a high-quality alternative that includes entertaining and insightful programmes and films, he added.
"They also need to be promoted effectively. For its part, the state needs to loosen the reins in the media sphere so good independent TV channels can be created," Akhmedyarov said.
"You can't keep feeding crumbs to an audience that's captivated by Russian TV."
Serik Mambetov, head of the Matritca.kz communication group, has also long opposed the operation of Russian channels in Kazakhstan.
The Kazakh government "most likely didn't [remove them] because Kazakhstan belongs to the EEU [Eurasian Economic Union or EAEU] and CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation]", he said.
"But the fact is that blatant propaganda has already crossed borders."
"All these 'Solovyovs' and 'Simonyans' are total bogus and have no ... journalism standards," Mambetov said, referring to two prominent personalities on Kremlin-backed TV.
Tatyana Rogovtseva, who lives in Shymkent, fully supports the idea of banning the broadcast of Russian channels that regularly cause conflict in her family.
"My husband served in the Soviet army and he sincerely believes that ... Putin is amazing, [that] he'll conquer everyone and prove to the Americans how brave the Russian soldiers are," she told Caravanserai.
"Because of that there are constant arguments in our house and it gets unpleasant because I'm against the war," said Rogovtseva.
Activists in Kazakhstan have been urging companies to limit the broadcasting of Kremlin propaganda channels as far back as the early 2000s.
Dos Koshim, a civic leader in Almaty, began addressing the issue in 2003, warning that Russian TV channels brainwash people.
Those who watch such channels "have different views of the future and aspirations" of the people, Koshim told Caravanserai.
Many have taken to "parroting the rhetoric of the Russian media about Ukrainian neo-Nazis and the righteous cause of the Russian army in the Donbas region," Koshim said. "It's all because people are consuming Russian information junk."
Koshim pointed to a practice that has already become widespread in the world: at a minimum, regulating the information flow from Russia, or even completely banning it.
Providers in Britain, Poland, Germany, Finland, Canada, the United States and the Baltic countries have renounced blatant propaganda media outlets like RT.
"This is the right thing to do since they disseminate unfriendly information about many countries, including Kazakhstan, our homeland," Koshim added.