5 April 2002, Volume
'VIRTUAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION HANDBOOK' ISSUED.
Article 19, an organization that works for the right of free expression around the world, has issued an upgrade of its "Virtual Freedom of Expression Handbook" on http://www.article19.org as a resource for global freedom of expression law. It includes a database with summaries of all freedom of expression-related cases from the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights, and regional organizations plus cases from various national jurisdictions. Most case summaries include a link to complete case materials. The handbook also contains key documents with in-depth legal analyses of such topics as the Internet, broadcasting, defamation, and national security, and also includes a search engine.
SWEDES SEND SCHOOLBOOKS.
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) has sent over 400,000 schoolbooks and 2 million notebooks for SCA supported primary schools in 18 provinces in Afghanistan. The material has now reached three SCA regional offices in Kabul, Ghazni, and Pul-i-Khumri for transport to SCA -supported rural schools. The SCA supports 487 primary schools with 170,000 students taught by some 5,600 teachers in 18 provinces. Almost 40,000 students are girls taught by 935 female teachers. For more contact: Information Unit, SCA, at email@example.com
TENDER FOR TV FREQUENCY OPENS...
Three bidders submitted proposals on 28 March for use of the frequency that currently belongs to the pro-opposition TV station A1+ to a national commission appointed by President Robert Kocharian, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. A1+ is competing with the entertainment company Sharm, which has pledged to purchase equipment worth $1.8 million for its station, and Dofin TV, which put its investment commitments at $3.2 million. A1+, which offered a more modest financial package, has built up a faithful audience thanks to its extensive news coverage and hard-hitting reports on domestic political developments. The tender results are to be announced on 2 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)...BUT INDEPENDENT TV STATION LOSES...
The independent TV station A1+ ceased broadcasting at midnight local time on 2 April after having failed to win a tender to retain its broadcasting frequency, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The station's director has appealed to the Armenian Economic Court to annul the tender's outcome on the grounds that it was conducted in violation of the law and the Armenian Constitution. Journalists and opposition parties condemned the outcome of the tender; opposition parties announced that they will convene a mass demonstration on 5 April in defense of media freedom. Earlier on 2 April, President Robert Kocharian told journalists before leaving on an official visit to Tajikistan that he hopes A1+ will stay on the air and that he is ready to meet with its staff to discuss "what solutions could be found." Also on 2 April, parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian denied, as Kocharian had done earlier, that A1+ was silenced for its hard-hitting coverage of political developments, according to Mediamax, as cited by Groong. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)...AND U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN.
In a statement issued on 3 April, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan expressed concern about the outcome of the tender that awarded the TV frequency used by the independent channel A1+ to Sharm TV, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The statement said A1+ "performed a valuable public service in offering substantial media access to a broad spectrum of opinion makers, political leaders, and those holding different views," and that its effective closure "raises serious questions about the future of free and independent media in Armenia." At the same time, the U.S. statement welcomed President Kocharian's 2 April offer to meet with A1+'s directors to discuss ways to enable the station to continue broadcasting. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April)
OPPOSITION WEBSITE CLOSED.
The Virtualnyi Monitor site -- which takes a critical stance on the Azerbaijani leadership -- has been shut down by its ISP. The site authors attribute this move to politics. They also said that an anonymous caller had threatened to kill them. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 25-31 March)
OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER GETS OFFICIAL WARNING.
The Information Ministry has warned the opposition daily "Narodnaya volya" in connection with "the dissemination of groundless and unsubstantiated statements concerning the president of the Republic of Belarus," Belapan reported on 29 March. On 20 March, "Narodnaya volya" published a text that included the following passage: "Inasmuch as the Belarusian authorities are involved in [the] arms trade, inasmuch as the presidential administration has privatized the most profitable part of [the] Belarusian economy, it is not difficult to realize what money Alyaksandr Ryhoravich [Lukashenka] wants to launder in Austria." "Narodnaya volya" intends to appeal this warning to the Supreme Economic Court, claiming that the text was not written by its journalists but only reprinted from the website of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 April)TWO JOURNALISTS TRY TO WARD OFF TRIAL.
Nikolai Markevich, editor-in-chief of the Hrodno-based paper "Pagonya" -- which was closed by the authorities -- and newspaper reporter Pavel Mozheiko are facing slander charges. They have sent an open letter to various embassies asking them to use their influence to stop a trial against them. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 25-31 March)OPPOSITION WEBSITES HACKED.
The press center of the Civil Initiative Charter 77 said that its website is under attack by some hackers, which would be impossible without using the potential of the sole provider in the country, Beltelekom. In a similar development, the site of the Vyasna human rights center was blocked for unknown reasons. Site employees do not rule out the possibility that this was the work of secret services. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 25-31 March)CPJ: INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY ON ZAVADSKY CASE.
On 28 March, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for an independent, international inquiry into the July 2000 disappearance of Belarusian cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski. Although two former members of the elite Almaz special forces unit were recently convicted of kidnapping Zavadski, local sources view them as scapegoats. The CPJ is disturbed that state prosecutors failed to investigate allegations that high-level government figures were involved in Zavadski's disappearance. (Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 March)
ROMA AND MEDIA.
The latest issue of the "Multicultural Skyscraper" newsletter appeared in April. It focuses on the On-Line/More Colour in the Media (OL/MCM) network and its website. The OL/MCM is a network of broadcasters, training institutes, and multicultural organizations to improve the representation of ethnic minorities in broadcasting. This issue has news on the Human Rights Project (HRP), a Bulgarian Romany rights advocacy organization. The complete article is at http://www.multicultural.net/newsletter/article/issue5-angelova.htm (MINELRES, 4 April)
PORN PRODUCER RENOUNCES PLANS TO SHOOT FILM AT THERESIENSTADT.
Porn star and producer Robert Rosenberg has abandoned his intention to shoot a film at Theresienstadt, CTK reported on 29 March, citing the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." He said his sponsors "left him" in the wake of the "media campaign unleashed" against him. Rosenberg denied ever having planned to shoot a porno film, saying he had intended to shoot a documentary at the former concentration camp. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 April)PUBLISHER OF 'MEIN KAMPF' APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, SUPREME COURT.
Michal Zitko, who was given a three-year suspended sentence in December 2000 for his publication of a Czech-language translation of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," has appealed to the Supreme Court and to the Constitutional Court asking that the verdict be reconsidered, CTK reported on 2 March. Zitko was also fined 2.5 million crowns (nearly $71,000) to be paid within 15 days of the sentencing, which he said he was unable to do on such short notice. If he does not pay the fine he must serve the suspended sentence. He claims that the book is a "historical document" that can no longer have a political impact. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)GOVERNMENT'S DISSATISFACTION WITH MEDIA COVERAGE OF SUDETEN ISSUE...
Culture Minister Pavel Dostal told CTK on 3 April that the government has decided to publish a book entitled "Sudeten -- Still a Topical Problem?" because it is dissatisfied with the media coverage of the Sudeten German problem and the Benes Decrees. Dostal said that nearly all the media in the Czech Republic "are in German-owned hands" and are publishing information considered by the cabinet to be "unilateral and misleading." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April)...TRIGGERS CRITICISM.
Petr Safr, editor in chief of the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" (which, like "Lidove noviny" belongs to the German publishing group Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft), said in response that Dostal fails to grasp the nature of the relationship between the owner of a daily and its staff in a democratic society. "I have never encountered a single attempt [by the owner] to influence what we write, let alone the Sudeten German issue," he said, adding that Dostal has "succumbed to the election atmosphere and forgets that we live in a society respecting freedom of speech and of business," CTK reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April)
SUPREME COURT SANCTIONS ARREST OF SUSPECTED CHECHEN FIGHTERS.
Two Chechens, one of them a Georgian citizen, have been taken into custody for three months and charged with maintaining contacts with Jordanian-born Chechen field commander Khattab and members of Al-Qaeda, Caucasus Press reported on 30 March. Sevdia Ugrekhelidze, a lawyer for one of the two men, said the prosecution has no direct evidence to support that charge. She added that her client, Islam Saidiev, is a journalist and had professional contacts with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and Chechen field commanders. Georgian Popular Front Chairman Nodar Natadze claimed that the Georgian authorities arrested Saidiev at the request of the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)
FIDESZ, SOCIALIST CHAIRMEN TO DEBATE IN LIVE BROADCAST.
FIDESZ Chairman Zoltan Pokorni and his Socialist counterpart Laszlo Kovacs held a 110-minute debate at the University of Economics on 4 April that was broadcast live on Hungarian Television, Hungarian media reported. According to an agreement reached on 29 March, the debate was to focus on an evaluation of the past four years and the key tasks facing the future. The two parties were allowed to delegate 80 persons each to the 400-seat auditorium where the debate took place. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 April)
INDEPENDENT TV STATION SUBJECT TO GUNFIRE FOR PLANNED COVERAGE OF PUBLIC PROTEST?
Police in Almaty tried, but failed late on 28 March to arrest former Pavlodar Oblast Governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, who is one of the leaders of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK), RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Earlier on 28 March, Zhaqiyanov chaired a press conference in Almaty at which it was announced that a mass demonstration will take place on 30 March to protest the 27 March arrest of another DVK leader, Mukhtar Abliyazov, who is also the owner of the TAN TV company. Abliyazov was arrested in Almaty and accused of committing economic crimes while he was Kazakhstan's energy minister. On 29 March, parliament deputy Serikbolsyn Abdildin told RFE/RL that Zhaqiyanov is on the territory of a foreign embassy in Almaty, which was later determined to be the French embassy. Meanwhile, unknown perpetrators forced their way onto the premises of the independent TV station TAN TV late on 28 March and opened fire, damaging transmission equipment. TAN TV had volunteered to broadcast the planned 30 March protest live but will be unable to do so, according to its director, as repairs will take at least five or six days. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)VIOLENCE AGAINST JOURNALISTS COVERING EMBASSY STANDOFF.
Pro- and antigovernment demonstrators congregated on 2 April outside the building in Almaty that houses the French, German, and British embassies, and where Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, co-founder of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK) took refuge on 29 March to avoid arrest. The OSCE office in Almaty issued a statement on 2 April expressing concern at an incident earlier that day in which police attacked Senator Zauresh Battalova, who had tried to prevent police violence against journalists reporting on the scene outside the embassy building, Reuters reported. Police also detained Zhaqiyanov's wife, Karlyghash, late on 1 April, claiming the car in which she drove to the embassy had been stolen. A cameraman for independent TAN-TV was hospitalized after being beaten up by unknown persons outside the embassy, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)
ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE DAILY SLAMS MACEDONIAN-LANGUAGE MEDIA COVERAGE OF KOSOVA.
The Albanian-language daily "Fakti," which is published in Skopje, has strongly criticized the Macedonian-language media, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported on 3 April. Citing a recent article in the daily "Dnevnik" as an example, "Fakti" states that the Macedonian-language media portray Kosova as the hotbed of all evil in the region, and routinely refer to Kosovar Albanians as "criminals." According to "Fakti," the Macedonian-language media want to discredit the work of Macedonia's ethnic Albanian politicians, especially the newly founded Coordination Council headed by former rebel leader Ali Ahmeti. The director of the government's Information Agency, Bebi Bexheti, made similar charges against Macedonian journalists in 2001 ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April)
SECURITY SERVICES TAPED DJALALABAD CLASHES.
Fifty-five of the total 105 parliament deputies, including former Communist Party First Secretary Turdakun Usubaliev, signed an appeal to the Kyrgyz people on 27 March not to be "misled" by "intriguers" who seek "to foment tensions," RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The signatories blamed the 17 March clashes in Djalalabad Oblast's Aksy Raion on the "illegal actions" and "political extremism" of those "intriguers," who, they said, coerced the people to resort to "unconstitutional actions." Opposition deputies, however, condemned the initiative as disgracing the legislature. Film director Dooronbek Sadyrbaev pointed out that none of the 55 signatories has visited Djalalabad and they are not aware of what really occurred. Sadyrbaev also said in Bishkek on 28 March that he has acquired a videotape of the clashes in Djalalabad filmed by security services. He called for the resignation of Interior Minister Temirbek AkmatAliyev and of Djalalabad Oblast Governor Zootbek Kudaibergenov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)
EDITOR HAS DISAPPEARED.
Vlad Cubreacov, the editor in chief of the weekly "Alfa i Omega" and a member of the Moldovan parliament as well as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has not been seen since 21 March. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 25-31 March)TV JOURNALISTS BEAM 'ALTERNATIVE NEWS' IN CITY SQUARE.
The strikers' committee at Teleradio Moldova on 29 March began screening in the National Opera Square an uncensored, alternative news program, Romanian radio reported. The committee intends to show during the weeklong protest action footage that was censored by the company's management. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 April)
EDITOR URGES TRUTH ABOUT ARCHBISHOP'S RESIGNATION.
Jaroslaw Gowin, the editor in chief of the Catholic monthly "Znak," told Polish Radio on 2 April that he wants the church authorities to reveal whether the sexual harassment allegations against Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who resigned last week are true. "It is hard to imagine that the Holy See would have failed to publicize the fact that the investigation had not confirmed the allegations [against Paetz], Gowin said. "Therefore, [Paetz's] dismissal and the silence over the allegations confirm these allegations without any doubt. This is what I know...[but] many people in Poland are confused and bewildered, and do not know what to think about the case." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)
JOURNALIST MURDERED IN MOSCOW.
Valerii Balyuev, a special correspondent for "Moskovskie novosti" and "Argumenty i Fakty," was found dead near a Moscow marketplace, Interfax reported on 2 April. According to an Interior Ministry spokesman, Balyuev was strangled and stabbed to death. While the spokesman refused to speculate on why the journalist may have been murdered, his colleagues are saying that Balyuev was targeted because he was an investigative journalist who reported about Chechnya and frequently visited the republic. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)MISSING REPORTER'S BODY FOUND IN SMOLENSK.
The body of 26-year-old Sergei Kalinovskii, editor in chief of the daily "Moskovsky Komsomolets-Smolensk," was found on 1 April outside the central Russian city of Smolensk. Kalinovskii, who reported on local politics and crime for the daily and the local SCS TV station, disappeared on 14 December. Local police have opened a criminal investigation; the journalist's colleagues told the Committee to Protect Journalists that they believe Kalinovskii was killed for his reporting. In March 2001, Kalinovskii's apartment was damaged by a fire that he suspected was set in retaliation for his work, according to on-line news service ntvru.com, but local investigators ruled out arson. (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2 April)PRIMAKOV SUGGESTS THERE WILL ONLY BE SELF-CENSORSHIP AT TV-6.
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 28 March, Yevgenii Primakov, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Arkadii Volskii, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said that their partnership, Media-Sotsium, will not control editorial policy of TV-6. Media-Sotsium won the tender for the station's broadcasting rights the previous day. Volskii said that at the very beginning of the partnership's formation it was agreed that conditions would not be imposed on the station's workers other than that the channel be commercially profitable. Primakov noted that censorship will only be "internal," saying each person "should set for himself some kind of limits -- ethical, moral -- and I believe that is not dangerous." However, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov was skeptical, saying on 28 March that former TV-6 General Director Yevgenii Kiselev had no choice. "He used to work under the oligarchs, now he will try doing so under the state," he said. Zyuganov said the outcome of the tender is no surprise as it was ordered by the Kremlin. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)BROADER TV-6 POLITICAL IMPACT.
See "Plus ca Change" by Virginie Coulloudon and "Has Kiselev Stepped on the Same Rake?" by Laura Belin in "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 2 April.NIZHNII NOVGOROD PAPER UNDER THREAT.
On 27 March, the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast prosecution service ordered that an issue of the weekly "Leninskaya Smena Plyus" be confiscated. An oblast interior division official carried out the order in accordance with the Russian Administrative Code, which deals with discrepancies between a paper's actual and declared print run. (The paper's printing press had been asked to print 91,801 copies, while the paper's license copy specified 95,000). "The arrest was planned in advance and is politically motivated," the weekly's editor-in-chief, V. Barinov said. The Russian Press Ministry has also asked a court to withdraw the paper's registration because it has already received two warnings that it allegedly has violated freedom of mass information. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)SUPREME COURT MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO CHALLENGE SECRECY REGULATIONS.
The Supreme Court has declined environmentalist and former naval captain Aleksandr Nikitin's appeal concerning the classification and transparency of governmental and presidential materials, and ruled that presidential decrees cannot be challenge by citizens in court, Interfax reported on 3 April. The decree in question, No. 763, was published by former President Boris Yeltsin in March 1996 and provided grounds for the publication of classified regulations dealing with state secrets. Over the last several years, many scientists and journalists, including Nikitin, have faced charges of state treason and espionage brought by the Federal Security Service after publishing such materials as allowed by the decree. It is feared that the Supreme Court's decision will have a negative affect on the cases of military journalist Grigorii Pasko and scientist Igor Sutyagin. Commenting in an Ekho Moskvy radio program on all the judicial developments around the Defense Ministry's order, Nikitin's defense attorney, Yu. Shmidt, said that "nearly every cabinet minister has signed such orders" and "agencies have substituted departmental secrets for state secrets, have their own vested interest in concealing information on what kind of information is secret." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April; "Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)SARATOV OBLAST TO CHALLENGE ACCREDITATION RULES.
The Saratov Oblast's prosecution service intends to challenge in court the rules of journalists' accreditation with the oblast government that restrict the media's ability to obtain data important for the public. The rules, which have been in force since 22 March, are deemed by the prosecutors to be inconsistent with Russian law. In particular, those provisions which specify that a media outlet may have only two accredited correspondents and that the accreditation application must specify the outlet's goals as described in its charter, the circulation, the area where it is sold, the telephone and fax numbers, and pen names of journalists as well as those of its founders and publishers. Furthermore, the governor's press service has a right to withdraw the accreditation of a journalist whose media outlet has not covered the activities of the oblast executive branch for three months. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)NIZHNII NOVGOROD CONSIDERS RESTRICTIVE MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS.
The Nizhnii Novgorod legislature is considering amendments to the Russian media law which would enable individuals and legal entities to file a lawsuit for revocation of media licenses if the media outlet has repeatedly spread libel about citizens within a year. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)USTINOV TAKES OVER NEWSPAPER CASE.
Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov met on 2 April with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" General Director Rustam Narzikulov, lenta.ru reported. At the meeting, Ustinov promised to assume control over the criminal proceedings launched against the newspaper's deputy editor, Igor Zotov, that were recently launched by the Moscow city prosecutor's office, newspaper Editor in Chief Tatyana Koshkareva told Ekho Moskvy radio. Zotov is facing libel charges for an article written by a freelancer named Alina Tarasova, who alleged that federal and Moscow city judges accepted bribes. Koshkareva also revealed that the newspaper's leadership is thinking about finding new investors to replace embattled oligarch Boris Berezovsky. "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)MORE MOVES AGAINST 'NOVAYA GAZETA.'
The office of the Procurator General in the Northwestern Federal District opened a slander case against the independent paper "Novaya Gazeta" in connection with its 21 January article on St. Petersburg Deputy Prosecutor B. Salmaksov. According to the article, Salmaksov's son tried to extort a bribe of $1 million in order to drop charges against businessman M. Miriashvili, who had been held in custody on charges of having organized a criminal gang. The son is alleged to have struck a deal with Miriashvili's friends on behalf of city prosecutor I. Sydoruk and his father and to have received $50,000. Meanwhile, in late March, "Novaya Gazeta's" editorial board was notified of the Moscow Intermunicipal Court's ruling in a libel suit brought by Krasnodar regional judge Yu. Chernov. The court ordered the paper to pay damages in an amount equivalent to $1 million. The payment would bankrupt the paper. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)GRENADE ATTACK ON SIBERIAN TV STATION.
Unidentified assailants threw Molotov cocktails and a hand grenade into a television station in the town of Usolye Sibirskoye in Irkutsk Oblast late on 28 March, ntvru.com reported. After the blast a fire broke out that destroyed the station's equipment, though nobody was injured. Residents of the building where the studio was located had to be evacuated. Managers of the TV company said the incident is connected to the elections of the head of local administration and town mayor, which are scheduled for 31 March. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)LIBEL CASES IN SAMARA, VOLOGDA.
State Duma member V. Tarachev announced at a 27 March press conference that he has filed a libel case against the editorial board of the paper "Samarskaya Gazeta." He complained that the local press does not properly explain reform concepts to its readers. In Vologda, a slander suit was brought against the paper "Drugaya Pravda" for its article about A. Elperin, the chairman of the Vologda Ball Bearing Plant board of directors and Ye. Shulepov, director general of Ruspromservis corporation. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)HARRY POTTER LINKED WITH OCCULTISM IN WESTERN EXCLAVE.
Leaflets calling for a boycott of the film "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" have begun appearing in Kaliningrad, BNS reported on 2 April citing the Kaliningrad supplement to "Komsomolskaya pravda." The leaflets say that the film promotes occultism and magic and the author of the Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling, is a satanist. Local Orthodox priest Father Mikhail told the newspaper that while the church is "against any form of occultism," it does not wish to wage a campaign against the film. He suggested that perhaps some unknown parishioner had the leaflets printed at his or her own expense. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)SVERDLOVSK EDITOR TOLD TO 'HIT THE ROAD.'
An article critical of the condition of roads in the Irbit district of Sverdlovsk Oblast has led to problems for the editor in chief of the opposition paper "Voskhod." According to the paper, only two roads were repaired in the town of Irbit in 2001, one connecting the town hall and Mayor G. Shatravka's brick mansion. Immediately after the paper hit the streets, a town hall official telephoned editor in chief V. Zhivulin and told him to leave town. The mayor has also told Zhivulin that he and his paper would be in serious trouble unless he left town. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Weekly Report," 25-31 March)TATAR-LANGUAGE STATION LOSES TENDER.
The Tatar-language Dulkin FM radio station in Kazan lost a bid for its broadcasting frequency in a tender held by the federal Media Ministry on 27 March, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported the next day. The station, which attracted the interest of Tatars living around the world by maintaining 24-hour rebroadcasts via the Internet, had earlier failed to pay the ministry 1 million rubles ($32,000) to prolong its license. A newly organized TVT radio representing the influential Tatar-American Investments and Finance group won the tender. It pledged to preserve Dulkin's audience by offering listeners a wide range of entertainment and news programs in both the Tatar and Russian languages. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)MEDIA FOILS SOME MOVES AGAINST MESKHETIANS IN KRASNODAR KRAI?
In Krasnodar Krai, a plan by Cossacks in the village of Nizhnebakansaya to evict two Meskhetian Turk families was foiled when local human rights groups alerted the media, "Vremya novostei" reported on 2 April. Tamara Kasrastelebayu, chairwoman of the Novorossiisk Municipal Committee for Human Rights, told the daily that the krai government "is looking for some enemies allegedly responsible for the crime rate here." As a result, she continued, it is "deliberately escalating the conflict between the Cossacks and the newcomers, even though the consequences of that could be horrible." According to an article by commentator Andrei Piontkovskii in "Novaya gazeta" on 28 March, even Meskhetian Turks with Soviet passports who have lived in Krasnodar for years are being targeted. Piontkovskii also said that with his recent statements on immigrants, Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev has been playing the role of a "fascist." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)VOLGOGRAD AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON ANTI-SEMITIC MEDIA.
After months of appeals to the local authorities, the Volgograd Jewish Religious Community, under the leadership of the city's chief rabbi, Zalman Ioffe, has persuaded the regional administration to cancel a local TV show spreading anti-Semitism. The program "Russian Hour" -- hosted by local anti-Semitic publisher Stanislav Terentev -- was run on a station founded by the regional administration. In addition, the editor of a local anti-Semitic paper called "Cossack Circle" was forced into retirement after the regional administration threatened to cut off its financing. (Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union, 3 April)RFE/RL LAUNCHES NORTH CAUCASUS BROADCASTS...
On 3 April, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., launched broadcasts to the North Caucasus in the Avar, Chechen, and Circassian languages. In announcing the new broadcasts, RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine said that "RFE/RL's broadcasts are known for their independence, professionalism, and solid journalistic values. Because of the depth of experience of our correspondents, I am confident that our North Caucasus broadcasts will be known for these same qualities." RFE/RL is set to broadcast one hour per day of original programming from 1900-2000 CEST on shortwave frequencies 9865, 11760, and 15350, with a repeat hour of broadcasts from 0600-0700 CEST on shortwave frequencies 9850, 11760, and 17710. These programs will also be available on the Internet at http://www.rferl.org/bd/nc/ Many of the North Caucasus peoples, Dine said, are already familiar with RFE/RL because of its broadcasts in the Russian language. But like those of other nations to whom the station broadcasts, many clearly prefer to receive news and information in their own language. According to RFE/RL Director of Broadcasting Jeffrey Trimble, each hour will feature 15 minutes of programming in each of the three North Caucasus languages, with an additional 15-minute news program in Russian focusing on events affecting the North Caucasus region. The programs will be produced by a staff of nine, all based at RFE/RL's Prague operations center. The broadcasts will focus on current news, world events, culture, history, language, religion, local politics, and democratic institution building. Congress mandated RFE/RL in late 2000 to commence North Caucasus broadcasting. Funding for the project was appropriated many months later. (RFE/RL News Release, 3 April)...AS MOSCOW PROTESTS...
The Russian Foreign Ministry has handed over an official protest to the U.S. embassy in Moscow in connection with the beginning, as of 3 April, of RFE/RL broadcasts to the North Caucasus in the Avar, Chechen, and Circassian languages, Russian news agencies reported. Aleksandr Volin, the deputy chief of the Russian presidential staff, told ORT on 3 April that the broadcasts may have a "vegetative effect on the security not only of Russia, but the other countries of the regions, as U.S. officials, due to insufficient language skills, can hardly control the content of the broadcastings that could became a channel for extremist views." However, the beginning of broadcasting, especially in the Avar language, caused "real enthusiastic excitement" among the people of Daghestan, among which Avars comprise the biggest ethnic group, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April)...CHECHEN OFFICIALS COMMENT...
Chechen Premier Stanislav Ilyasov admitted on 3 April that the Chechen media cannot freely report on all developments in the republic, Interfax reported. But he expressed the hope that in seeking to fill the information gap, RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service will be "objective" and use only information that has been substantiated. Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov for his part said he supports freedom of the media as "a standard for any civilized society," Interfax reported. But he added that he fears RFE/RL's Chechen broadcasts will not be impartial and non-partisan, but will "focus on criticizing the official authorities and the federal center's efforts to rebuild the economy...and to uproot terrorism in Chechnya, while praising 'the Maskhadov team.'" If that proves to be the case, Kadyrov said, the broadcasts will be "political sabotage against the Russian Federation as whole." Akhmar Zavgaev, Chechnya's representative on the Federation Council, predicted that "the Radio Liberty broadcasts will not bring any good" to Chechnya, but on the contrary "might somehow work to the benefit of extremism and banditry." In announcing the commencement of North Caucasus Service broadcasts on 3 April, RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine emphasized that programming will be "accurate, impartial, and respectful of the human rights of all persons in this war-torn region." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April)...AND AVARS 'WELCOME' BROADCASTS.
In a letter sent to the RFE/RL leadership on 14 February, an Avar religious scholar and a local journalist "welcomed with great joy" the renewal of radio broadcasts in their language. From 1951 until 1974, RFE/RL broadcast to the North Caucasus in Avar and other languages of that region. (CC)PRO-MASKHADOV PRESS CIRCULATES IN INGUSHETIA.
RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 4 April that the clandestine newspaper "Ichkeria" is produced, on average, twice monthly by Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's supporters and is freely available in camps in Ingushetiya for Chechen displaced persons. It generally contains an appeal by Maskhadov and details of the most recent hostilities. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April)POLITKOVSKAYA RECEIVES AWARD FOR COURAGEOUS REPORTING.
Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist whose reporting on the Russian army's human rights violations in Chechnya has resulted in death threats and overnight detentions, has won Index on Censorship's (INDEX) 2002 Most Courageous Defense of Freedom of Expression award. "Despite being arrested and abused by Russian soldiers, despite countless threats to her own safety and that of her children, and official pressure on her newspaper, [Politkovskaya] continues to return regularly to Chechnya," says INDEX. (International Freedom of Expression eXchange Clearing House, 2 April)
NGOS REPORT BIAS IN TV ELECTION COVERAGE.
The Equal Opportunities Committee and the Open Space Association have found in a monitoring project on the campaign coverage in Ukraine's leading media that the First Channel of Ukrainian Television (UT-1) turned out to be the most biased, "Ukrayina Moloda" reported on 28 March. UT-1 offered the pro-government For a United Ukraine bloc as much airtime as that given to all other contenders combined. Moreover, UT-1 has not said a single critical word about For a United Ukraine. A similar bias was observed in the private Inter Television, which was keen to promote the United Social Democratic Party, while also favoring For a United Ukraine and the Communist Party. Our Ukraine was targeted by Inter as the object of exclusively negative reporting. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)JOURNALIST ATTACKED IN CHERNIHIV.
An unknown person attacked journalist Mykhailo Brezkun, a pensioner, in the garden outside his country house in Chernihiv. Brezkun had published an article about parliamentarian Oleksandr Volkov, accusing him of embezzlement. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 25-31 March)INTERNET NEWSPAPER SHUT DOWN.
The Internet newspaper "Obkom," which has been under pressure from tax agencies, closed down because its ISP disconnected it. Meanwhile, the State Taxation Administration has not brought any charges against "Obkom," according to deputy editor in chief Sergei Sukhobok. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 25-31 March)WEB RADIO SERVICE LAUNCHED.
Panorama Radio Service -- an Internet project sponsored by the Open Society Institute (Budapest), the International Renaissance Foundation (along with the Open Society Institute, founded by George Soros), the Global Conflict Prevention Fund (Great Britain), and the Canadian Foundation -- was launched in March, UNIAN reported on 28 March, quoting the project's manager, Vadym Kastelli. Panorama is not going to broadcast news directly but post its bulletins as audio files on the Internet at http://rsp.kiev.ua. Local radio stations can take the files for broadcasting free of charge. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)
DISSIDENT POET AND SON GO INTO HIDING.
Uzbek poet Yusuf Dzhumaev has gone into hiding with his son after receiving a notice that he is to be re-arrested. The poet was released on 29 December after two months in prison. On 23 March, police came to the poet's Bukhara home with a search warrant and an arrest order. He was apparently accused of having stolen a neighbor's dog. Dzhumaev denied the theft, claiming that neighbors had been instigated by police to make the claim to punish him for refusal to stop his criticism of the authorities. Dzhumaev was ordered to appear the next day at the regional branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Fearing imprisonment, Dzhumaev and his son went into hiding in Tashkent. On 30 March, in a radio interview from his hiding place, Dzhumaev said that his home was under constant surveillance and that police appear at his house two or three times a day to demand that his wife reveal his whereabouts. During one encounter, the police are said to have expressed anger that Dzhumaev's son had recently visited the United States embassy in Tashkent. Dzhumaev's son, Alisher, also suffered persecution for campaigning for his father's release. He was badly beaten by men who warned him to stop his campaign, warning that if he did not he could be killed. Dzhumaev's daughter, who is also a poet, has also been under pressure and her work has been seized during raids on the family home. In early March there were threats that she, too, would be arrested. (Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN, 4 April)
RUSSIA PROVIDES TEXTBOOKS FOR UZBEK SCHOOLS.
The Russian government has made a gift of 60,000 textbooks for use in Russian-language schools in Tashkent and the surrounding region, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 March. Speaking at the presentation ceremony at the Russian Embassy, Uzbek Education Minister Risbay Djuraev gave the total number of students at Russian-language schools in Uzbekistan at 300,000, http://www.rian.ru reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: YEVGENII ALEKSEEVICH KISELEV
By Julie A. Corwin
Kiselev, 45, got a good start in life. A native Muscovite, he was born into a family of aviation engineers. He managed to attend one of the Soviet Union's elite educational institutions, the Institute for Asia and Africa at Moscow State University. He is reportedly a gifted linguist and speaks fluent English and Persian. After finishing school, Kiselev worked as a translator in Iran for a Soviet trading firm, according to "Kto est kto." In 1979, Kiselev had been poised to take a job with TASS in their foreign news department, but he was called up by the army and asked to serve as a translator in Afghanistan. Kiselev had one of the most trusted positions, working with the office of military advisers. From 1982-84, he taught at a special KGB institute, a position which experts on the intelligence services believe requires particularly high clearance. Publicly, however, Kiselev has insisted that he was not a member of the Soviet intelligence service's cadre.
In 1986, he worked at a central radio broadcasting unit for foreign countries, providing "ideological support" for the activities of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Because he was able to get this job, it is generally assumed that Kiselev was a member of the Communist Party. In 1987 Kiselev switched from radio to TV journalism, starting out as head of international department for the main TV news program, "Vremya."
In 1993, he launched "Itogi," the political-analytical program which he continued to anchor at TV-6, and the program for which he is best-known. The program initially attracted broad attention because it aired all types of political views. And, it was for this, according to "Kto est kto," that Kiselev "won the trust of millions of television viewers." A former government propagandist, Kiselev had now adopted the stance of an independent journalist, declaring in an interview in 1995: "I do not participate in political games. I have not set for myself the goal of influencing political events."
However, within a few years, it would become more difficult for Kiselev to present himself as completely independent. In 1997, together with Vladimir Gusinsky and others, he founded Media-MOST. That relationship was reportedly a highly remunerative one for Kiselev and many journalists at NTV. It was reportedly around that time that Kiselev could be seen being driven around Moscow in a chauffeured Volvo. Kiselev and Gusinsky also developed a very close working relationship. About Gusinsky, Kiselev once said: "Vladimir Aleksandrovich Gusinsky did a lot for NTV. For three years of our work together, this person was for me a very important advisor on many questions.... We are not simply partners but friends." According to "Kto est kto," Kiselev never acknowledged that there were more than a few professionals from the KGB and MVD working at Media-MOST information-analytical service, such as former KGB General Filip Bobkov -- nor did he acknowledge that this department likely provided research for his "Itogi" program.
Kiselev's reputation suffered not merely by association but also by deed. Nixon Center President Dmitrii Simes recently likened Kiselev and his colleagues to "a group of intellectual hatchet men," who had been willing to smear people's reputations at Gusinsky's request. Earlier, analyst Aleksandr Tsipko charged that Kiselev's program, "Crime Without Punishment," about the murder of journalist Vladislav Listev was produced not to shed new light on the case but to "discredit the power ministries, primarily [then Interior Minister Anatolii] Kuikov."
This month, "Kommersant-Vlast" (26 March 2002) conducted an informal poll of a number of leading policymakers, businessmen, and cultural figures, asking them if they were "bored" with Kiselev. While the response to Kiselev was hardly one of boredom, it was not exactly one of support either. And this negative attitude toward Kiselev may partly explain why there was such a small public outcry when TV-6 was shut down last year. In his response to the question about Kiselev, Vologda Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev replied: "I liked the earlier but not the later Kiselev.... Earlier, he was considered -- not without basis -- an independent journalist, but not now." Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak had a similar view: "I was bored by the earlier Kiselev. Then he was simply a good journalist. But when he started to use television for his own public programming, then for me he started to exist."
Many commentators also expressed indifference toward Kiselev's fate. State Duma deputy (Unity) Vladimir Bryntsalov noted: "I am more interested in my own health and how much money I've got in my pocket. Kiselev has no influence on this, and I never think about him." Tatyana Malyutina, president of the Association of Female Entrepreneurs in Russia, declared: "I [can] hardly be bored with such an affected person.... If he again appears on television, I will take this calmly -- I will not be angry but at the same time I won't be filled with joy." Oleg Starukhin, vice president of the Association of Producers and Lovers of Beer, likely summed up the views of a large number of television viewers when he declared: "Is there really only one problem in this country? Without Kiselev, I started to watch even more television -- they are showing more football." Only Yabloko Duma deputy Sergei Ivanenko seemed to look forward to a victory for Kiselev: "The old NTV team was one of the best creative collectives. Despite the break-up, Kiselev has remained their [leader]. And if he wins, then it will not be difficult to recapture that creative potential."