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Media Matters: June 21, 2002

21 June 2002, Volume 2, Number 25
RSF: JOURNALISTS SHOULD NOT TESTIFY AT THE HAGUE. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested the 9 June decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to order former "Washington Post" reporter Jonathan Randal to provide testimony about his 1993 interview with a former Bosnian Serb leader. Randal had already refused to respond to an earlier court summons to testify at the trial of Bosnian Serb leaders Momir Talic and Radoslav Brdjanin. The RSF maintains that war correspondents should not provide court testimony, since it will endanger their lives and decrease their ability to provide information. The ICTY said on 9 June that the right of journalists not to reveal their sources -- which would excuse them from giving court evidence -- did not apply here since the person interviewed was a public figure. (Reporters Without Borders, 12 June)

FUTURE YOUNG PEOPLE'S MEDIA NETWORK. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and several European and Central Asian NGOs, are developing the Young People's Media Network (YPMN) new umbrella group, reports the Communication Initiative, to support media programs in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, and the Baltic States. The programs will encourage youth efforts to develop new radio, television, Internet, or print projects. The project aims at communication across geographic and "mental" borders (see An informal task force has been formed to shape the future network via input from youth media groups, such as the Albanian TV show "Troc!" and "Good Morning Afghanistan," a daily radio news program by young Afghan journalists. For more, see (IJ Net, 17 June)

KABUL WATCHES AND LISTENS FOR LOYA JIRGA NEWS. Everyone has an opinion on the Loya Jirga -- even those who harbor doubts are squeezing into cafes and restaurants to watch TV coverage, reports the Institute for War and Peace Reporting Afghan Recovery Report on 14 June. For five days, the country's few television sets have been tuned to live broadcasts from the Loya Jirga, while most people radio has been their news source. When a Kabul hotel showed the council sessions on TV, the room was packed and many stood outside to listen. The owner of a restaurant said he had had to turn off his TV, since customers "hadn't come to eat, but to watch the Loya Jirga." Two ice cream parlors showed Indian films to even bigger -- mostly teenage -- crowds. ("Institute for War and Peace Reporting Afghan Recovery Report," 14 June)

AFGHAN RECOVERY REPORT. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting's (IWPR) "Afghan Recovery Report" is a free local news service and is part of IWPR journalism training for the Afghan print media. IWPR Afghanistan provides workshops and on-the-job training for local journalists and weekly publication and syndication in local-language media. The project also includes an Afghan-run news website ( The project is co-sponsored by the Geneva-based Media Action International and, in Peshawar, with the Afghan Media Resource Center.

GOVERNMENT URGED TO CURB PRESSURE ON MEDIA. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said journalists still risk harassment, physical assaults -- committed by officials with "near complete impunity" -- and charges of criminal defamation. The 60-page report released on 13 June -- based on interviews with dozens of journalists and media professionals and analysis of court documents --notes a pattern of "official retaliation for coverage of government abuse, corruption, and rights violations." HRW also noted that Albanian government officials misuse state advertising to put financial pressure on media outlets and interfere with editorial freedom. According to HRW, the police are often responsible for arbitrary arrests, severe beatings, and intimidation of journalists throughout Albania, especially outside Tirana. Opposition media are most vulnerable to violence, particularly during election periods. Civil and criminal defamation laws fail to meet international standards and HRW researchers found that journalists facing defamation charges are routinely denied fair trials. HRW is concerned that "these pressures have a major chilling effect on the Albanian media's ability to be a public watchdog." HRW urged international financial institutions to include media freedom under efforts to curb corruption and that development banks should monitor advertisement practices related to their investments. The report is available at

CLOSED TV STATION LOSES FINAL APPEAL. Following a one-hour hearing on 14 June, the Armenian Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision by the Economic Court to reject an appeal lodged by the independent TV station A1+ against the outcome of an April tender that awarded its frequency to a competitor, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. A1+'s owners, who have consistently charged that the tender result was politically motivated and intended to silence their criticism of the government, said on 14 June they will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

JOURNALISTS CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO AMEND MEDIA LAW. On 17 June, the Journalists' Trade Union of Azerbaijan (JuHI) called on the government to amend Article 14 of the media law, relating to state organs establishment and ownership of media outlets, including television and radio stations. According to JuHI, Azerbaijan state television and radio broadcasting corporation and other media outlets, including the dailies "Azerbaycan," "Khalq qezeti," and "Respublika," often "tarnish the image of independent journalists and opposition forces" and are "used by the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party as a private platform." JuHI urged international and national organizations to lobby the government for such amendments. For more, e-mail:, or see

JOURNALISTS HAIL 'HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH' IN WAGE TALKS. On 13 June, the European Federation of Journalists hailed an agreement between media employers and journalists in Croatia as a "historic breakthrough that opens the door to a new era of industrial relations in the region." The collective agreement signed between the management of the daily "Jutarnji list," which is part of Europa Press Holding, Croatia's biggest media employer, and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists includes a comprehensive framework for social improvements, including holidays, social rights, and salaries. Europa Press Holding is a subsidiary to the German WAZ group and this is the first major agreement that crosses the borders, taking into Eastern Europe some of the social standards well-established in most European Union countries. The agreement guarantees a 40-hour week with additional health and social security provisions and a number of other improvements in working conditions. "This builds upon earlier successes including the first collective agreement signed in 1996," said Marinka Borkovic, general secretary of the union. "This latest breakthrough owes much to the solidarity of German colleagues for which we are very grateful." (European Federation of Journalists, 13 June)

NEW DISPUTE ERUPTS AT NOVA TV. The supervisory board for Czech Radio and Television is to debate on 27 June the situation at Nova TV, the country's dominant private television station, following a new ownership dispute involving the station's general manager, Vladimir Zelezny, Czech radio, CTK, and AP reported. Zelezny's former lawyer and right-hand man Ales Rozenhal announced on 14 June that Zelezny has been dismissed by co-owners of the company who control a 52 percent stake in CET 21, the company that holds Nova TV's broadcast license. Rozenhal said CET 21 has financial problems due to the "lack of transparency" in deals concluded by Zelezny and that his presence at the company's head damages its interests. Zelezny himself declared the attempt to remove him illegal. Attempts to seal Zelezny's office were resisted by staff loyal to him, and scuffles broke out on 14 June. Police said they regard the matter as a "private business dispute" and will not intervene. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

EXTREMIST LEADER WINS SUIT AGAINST 'NEPSZABADSAG.' The Budapest Metropolitan Court on 18 June ruled in favor of Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) Deputy Chairman Laszlo Bognar in a libel suit Bognar launched against the daily "Nepszabadsag," Hungarian media reported. The court ordered the daily to pay Bognar 250,000 forints ($974) in damages and to publish the ruling within 15 days. On 26 July 2001, "Nepszabadsag" described Bognar as "a figure stemming from the lowest specimen of [the] human race" who finds happiness in "tearing down, destroying, and humiliating the other party." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June)

SENIOR MIEP LEADER CHARGED WITH INCITEMENT. The Prosecutor-General's Office on 15 June filed charges of incitement against Lorant Hegedus Jr., deputy chairman of the MIEP, Hungarian media reported. The charges were filed in connection with an article published by Hegedus in "Ebreszto," a MIEP publication distributed in Budapest's 16th district, in which Hegedus advocated the expulsion of Jews from Hungary. Similar charges were filed against the publication's editor. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

PRO-FIDESZ DAILY SAYS HUNGARIAN PREMIER WAS SECRET POLICE AGENT. The daily "Magyar Nemzet," which supports the opposition FIDESZ, on 18 June published a front-page story claiming that Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy worked as a secret agent for the communist Interior Ministry before being admitted to the university. The daily says Medgyessy was recruited as an agent on 1 January 1961 and that his code number was D-209. According to "Magyar Nemzet," after completing his studies in economics, Medgyessy worked for the Finance Ministry, but drew salaries from both ministries. The daily says that the Socialist Party leadership had a heated debate over Medgyessy's past before deciding to nominate him as the party's prime-ministerial candidate. Meanwhile, Medgyessy's personal assets statement, released to the public on 17 June, shows that he is the richest of the four prime ministers that Hungary has had since the end of communist rule. Medgyessy declared assets worth more than 200 million forints ($777,635). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June)

TEHRAN BEGINS HEBREW BROADCASTS. The Islamic Republic News Agency announced on 10 June that Iran would begin a 30-minute daily Hebrew-language shortwave radio program called the "Voice of Davud" on 11 June. IRNA explained that the program is meant to "provide accurate information to peoples and oppose the one-sided news monopoly." Tehran also supports the Voice of the Palestinian Islamic Revolution and the Voice of the Al-Aqsa Intifada from Tehran. The two radio stations use Iranian radio's external-service transmitters and broadcast on frequencies that also carry Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's Arabic programs. These stations carry pro-Intifada commentary, glorify violence against Israel, and encourage future acts of "resistance." The Voice of Davud appears to be different from these other services in some aspects. AP writer Brian Murphy reported from Tehran on 11 June that the new Iranian broadcasts mark an effort to "bypass politics and reach out to Israelis and others," and the first Voice of Davud broadcast lacked the usual anti-Israeli diatribes. Indeed, that program contained items about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Washington, about Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank, and an interview with a Jewish Iranian. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting website's ( outline of the Voice of Davud, on the other hand, accused Tel Aviv of "racial discrimination and cruelty to the real owners of occupied Palestine" and appealed to "freedom-loving" Israelis to open discussions about "justice, friendship, and security." "By this radio we try to show the real face of the liars -- those who play a lot of tricks on the Jews in order to bring and settle them in the bloody ruins which used to be Palestinian homes," the website message said, according to AP's Murphy. ("RFE/RL Iran Report," 17 June)

OSCE OFFICIAL SLAMS REPRISALS AGAINST MEDIA. Speaking at a conference in Almaty on 13 June, Heinrich Haupt, who heads the OSCE office in Kazakhstan, expressed concern that the independent and opposition media in Kazakhstan are being subjected to increasing legal and economic pressures, Interfax reported. At the same time, Haupt noted, the national media are increasingly concentrated in the hands of persons close to the president. He also pointed out that the Administrative Offenses Code that came into force in January identifies 40 separate offenses of which the authorities may accuse the media. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

NEW VIEW ON 'NOMAD' FILM PROJECT? Some members of the Kazakh parliament raised doubts about moving ahead with a film project on Eurasian nomads. Last year, the Kazakh parliament approved a budget of $1.5 million towards a projected $15 million budget for a film to be produced by film studios in Kazakhstan, China, and Russia. Well-known Russian writer Rustam Ibragimbekov was to provide the script, but on 18 June some parliamentarians asked if a new script writer could be found. ("RFE/RL Kazakh News," 18 June)

JOURNALISTS UNDER THREAT. Journalists in Kosova are concerned about their safety. According to a survey of journalist conducted by the OSCE mission in Kosova in December 2001, 78 percent of those polled said they do not feel free to do investigative journalism without fear of threat or reprisal. The murder of two Kosovar journalists, Bekim Kastrati in 2001 and Shefki Popova in 2000 -- as well threats against journalists who investigate corruption, white-collar crime, or drug trafficking -- are a constant reminder of the dangers of undertaking such work. For more, see

NEW HEAD OF STATE RADIO AND TV APPOINTED. On 15 June, President Askar Akaev appointed Toktobubu Aitikeeva to be the new president of the Kyrgyzstan State TV and Radio Corporation. She previously held the position of the deputy head of the presidential administration's social department and secretary of the state educational program "Cadres of the 21st Century." A physicist by education, Aitikeeva graduated from Moscow's Lomonosov University, along with President Akaev. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 15 June)

RUSSIAN MEDIA MINISTER IN BISHKEK. Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin held a press conference to mark the 15 June opening of a representative office in Bishkek of the paper "Rossiiskaya gazeta." President Akaev attended the opening ceremony. The paper will not only cover events, but will also display a socially and politically responsible attitude. "Rossiiskaya gazeta" plans to devote several pages of each issue to Kyrgyzstan. The paper's representative office in Bishkek will be headed by Ella Taranova, the former director of the Kyrgyz presidential press service. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 15 June)

PAPER FINED FOR IMPLICATING PRESIDENT IN CIGARETTE RACKET. On 13 June, the daily "Dan" was ordered to pay Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic 15,500 euros ($14,600) in damages for causing him "moral anguish" for printing articles implicating him in cigarette smuggling, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The RSF noted that former "Dan" editor Vladislav Asanin was sentenced to three months in prison for libel in the same case in 2001 and has appealed his sentence to the Supreme Court. Djukanovic sued Asanin and "Dan" after it printed articles from the Croatian weekly "Nacional" in 2001 reporting alleged links between the Djukanovic, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and organized crime in a Balkan cigarette-smuggling racket. RSF also noted that a parliamentary commission is examining these allegations. In late May, a court in the Italian city of Bari began investigations of Djukanovic for alleged "underworld associations linked to international cigarette smuggling." On 13 June, "Nacional" Editor in Chief Ivo Pukanic told the Italian press he had been summoned to give evidence in the investigation. (Reporters Without Borders, 18 June)

PUTIN PROPOSES REFORM OF MASS-MEDIA MARKET... Speaking in the Kremlin at a national conference devoted to reform of the mass-media sector, President Vladimir Putin said that without "economically independent mass media, it is impossible to guarantee the constitutional rights [of citizens] to receive reliable information," RIA-Novosti reported on 18 June. Putin also said that in the past the state has carried out a mistaken policy of selective customs and tax privileges to the mass media "that ruined big segments of this sector of the economy." Putin also called for order in the advertising to make it maximally transparent and free of bureaucratic barriers. At present, Putin noted, the advertising market is totally monopolized and, as a result, many mass-media outlets -- especially in the regions -- are dependent on outside subsidies, including state subsidies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June)

...CALLS FOR CHANGES TO MEDIA LAW... Addressing a national mass-media conference on 18 June, President Putin said that current legislation on the mass media must be changed because it contradicts the new Civil, Labor, and Administrative codes, Russian news agencies reported on 19 June. Putin also said the participation of foreign capital in Russian media must be "seriously reviewed, taking into account state interests." In many countries, the participation of foreign capital in economic activities that impact public opinion is restricted, Putin said. At the same time, however, he also called on Russian businesspeople to cooperate with the state in developing the information markets of the former Soviet republics. "This not only an economic but also a political question, as it involves Russia's relations with its former compatriots living abroad," he opined. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June)

...MEETS WITH MEDIA LEADERS AT MEDIA CONFERENCE. The conference "The Media Industry: Directions for Reform" is part of the Russian-American Media Entrepreneurship Dialogue, initiated in November 2001 by President Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush, reported "The Moscow Times" on 19 June. The conference focus is a 57-page summary of the current status of the Russian media industry. Some 800 participants in the media conference have commented upon the report. The conference -- for Russian media only -- was organized by the Russian Media Ministry and major Russian media outlets, according to the paper. Manana Aslamazyan of Internews played a key role in organizing the media conference. This major conference, in turn, was preceded by a smaller meeting with President Putin for media executives attended by Oleg Dobrodeev (VGTRK), Boris Jordan (NTV) and Oleg Kiselev (TVS), the top managers of ITAR-TASS and Interfax, and the editor of Russkoye Radio. Media Union head Aleksandr Lyubimov, National Association of Television Broadcasters head Eduard Sagalaev, and Manana Aslamazyan of Internews were also present at the smaller meeting, which ran 40 minutes over the scheduled 90 minutes. President Putin, reports "The Moscow Times," was "flanked" by Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin and ORT General Director Konstantin Ernst. ("The Moscow Times," 19 June)

LESIN SAYS MEDIA ACCESS 'NO PROBLEM.' Speaking at the Moscow media conference on 19 June, Russian Media Minister Lesin said that Russia has some "3,000 broadcast companies, about 33,000 print media outlets" and a rapidly expanding Internet media segment, reported "The Moscow Times" on 20 June. If two years ago there were only 18 Internet-based publications registered, now there are more than 800. Lesin went on to claim that every major city with a population over "200,000 to 300,000 has 10 to 12 television stations, as many radio stations and dozens of newspapers and magazines." Most Russians, Lesin asserted, "have no problem getting access to information." ("The Moscow Times," 20 June)

A (MIS)GUIDED PRESS? Unlike 10 years ago, today there is very little left in Russia of a free press, opined the "Neue Zuericher Zeitung" on 8 June. "Putin seems driven by the small-minded concern that his people might be given 'wrong' information by truly independent newspapers and TV stations," says the Swiss daily. There is talk of a "'guided democracy' in which...the rulers need fear no organized opposition, thanks to their influence over the courts, political parties, and the media." CC

GOVERNMENT INCREASES ELECTRONIC OPENNESS. The Russian government announced the launch of a new version of its official electronic portal (, which is part of the state project Electronic Russia, ORT and reported on 17 June. Unlike the old website, the new one emphasizes interactive communication between officials and the public, allowing citizens to send letters, complaints, and suggestions concerning the government's functioning. In connection with the revamped website, the Department of Government Information announced that it is discontinuing most of its paper publications and press releases. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

A NEW FACE FOR ORT? Art gallery owner and spin doctor Marat Gelman has been named deputy general director of Russian Public Television (ORT), Ekho Moskvy reported on 15 June. However, on 17 June, ORT's press service declined to confirm the appointment, reported. According to Ekho Moskvy, Gelman intends to make ORT more lively and to create an image of ORT as a public television station rather than one that is state-owned. According to, Gelman's gallery is better-known for its large-scale, noncommercial political projects than its art. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

NOT MERELY OF ACADEMIC INTEREST. The 300-year-old Russian Academy of Sciences, which now receives only 18 percent of its Soviet-era budget, reports the 14-20 June "Russia Journal," still has many property and other assets, such as a publishing network that issues 300 magazines and a book-selling network. CC

DUMA BEEFS UP LAW ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. The State Duma on 13 June adopted in its second reading a series of amendments to the Criminal Code, including amendments sponsored by President Putin introducing serious penalties for copyright violations, reported the same day. According to Legislation Committee Chairman Valerii Vorotnikov, the amendments stipulate punishment for plagiarism by fines of up to 400 minimum salaries or prison terms of up to six months. Piracy, which is defined as the illegal distribution of copyrighted material for commercial gain, will be punishable by fines of up to 400 minimum salaries or prison terms of up to two years. Massive violations may be punished by prison terms of up to six years and confiscation of property, Vorotnikov added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

NORWEGIANS PICK UP STAKE IN 'KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA.' Vladimir Sungorkin, editor of Russia's most popular daily newspaper "Komsomolskaya pravda," announced on 17 June that the Norwegian media company A-pressen will purchase a 25 percent-plus-one-share stake in the paper, Russian news agencies reported. According to "The Moscow Times," A-pressen paid about $5 million. Sungorkin stated that the paper took the step not because of financial difficulties, but in order to secure access to the global market. Prof-Media, the holding that manages "Komsomolskaya pravda" and the other media holdings of Vladimir Potanin's Interros, hopes eventually to be able to list its shares on international stock exchanges. Sungorkin also said that A-pressen is in final negotiations to purchase a similar stake in "Sovetskii sport," another Interros paper. A-pressen has been active in Russia since 1997 and owns newspaper-printing plants in Nizhnii Novgorod and Yekaterinburg, with another under construction in Novosibirsk. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June)

JOURNALIST ATTACKED IN CHELYABINSK. German Galkin, deputy editor of the local newspaper "Vecherny Chelyabinsk" in the Ural city of Chelyabinsk, was attacked by two unknown assailants outside his apartment on 14 June according to Russian news reports, reported the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on 18 June. The journalist suffered minor injuries as a result. Galkin, who is also a reporter with the Moscow-based daily "Kommersant," believes the attack is connected to his critical coverage of local officials. Local police are investigating the incident. (CPJ, 18 June)

TATARSTAN RADIO STATION DIRECTOR ATTACKED IN MOSCOW. Ravil Rustyamov, the director of Tatarstan's Dulqyn radio station, was severely beaten by unknown assailants on 20 May in Moscow, the weekly "Novaya vecherka" reported on 12 June. Rustyamov was placed in intensive care with a fractured skull; he is currently in stable condition, the paper reported. Rustyamov said that his assailants asked him for his name before attacking him. Rustyamov was in Moscow to file an appeal with the Russian Supreme Court against a decision under which Dulqyn lost its broadcast license to radio station TAIF. Radik Shaimiev, son of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, is a TAIF station executive. ("RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Daily Report," 14 June)

PRESSURE ON LOCAL MEDIA DURING LEAD-UP TO ELECTIONS IN SIBERIA. Three of the four independent radio stations in Ulan-Ude, capital of Buryatia, have been closed down by State Communications Inspectorate officials because they lack the proper documents to use radio transmitters and other facilities, reported on 14 June. Although workers at the stations admit they do not have all the documents in question, they attribute the stations' closure to the 23 June presidential elections in the republic. Meanwhile, incumbent President Leonid Potapov filed a defamation suit in a local court against a journalist with the newspaper "Moskovskii komsomolets v Buryatii," Interfax-Eurasia reported on 13 June. According to the agency, the article in question alleged that Potapov's chief challenger, State Duma Deputy Bato Semenov (Fatherland-All Russia), has not had the same opportunities to conduct his campaign as Potapov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

SPS LEADER IN SVERDLOVSK OBLAST WAGES CAMPAIGN AGAINST LOCAL NEWSPAPER. A local Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) leader in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Timur Goryaev, tried to shut down the local newspaper "Vechernie vedomosti," reported on 18 June. A court awarded Goryaev 50,000 rubles ($1,500) in damages from the newspaper and sent court bailiffs to seize the publication's property. Goryaev, who is the general director of the company Kalina, reportedly was the main financial backer for the SPS during the oblast's recent legislative elections. The SPS's central leadership, especially Boris Nemtsov, has made numerous statements supporting the principle of freedom of the press. Goryaev's actions in the "Vechernie vedomosti" case will be examined by the party's political council at its next meeting, according to the website. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June)

RUSSIAN FILM INDUSTRY IN (THE) CAN(NES)? In its Soviet heyday, the Mosfilm studios produced 100 films a year, but today it is lucky to make 30 movies, reported Reuters on 17 June. Nowadays, Mosfilm covers costs by making TV ads, low-end TV movies and music. According to Igor Kallistov of the Russian Ministry of Culture Department of Cinema Regulation and Development, "only 7 percent of films are Russian" in state-subsidized movie theaters, while in private cinemas the percentage is "2 to 3 percent," according to Reuters, although half of the films shown on Russian TV are Russian, Kallistov claims. Ivan Dykhovichny, who directed the film "Moscow Parade" with German chanteuse Ute Lemper, told the daily "Izvestiya" that Russian distributors see Russian films as "tarred." On average, it costs $1 million to distribute a Russian film in Russia, whereas American movies cost $200,000, Kallistov said as cited by Reuters. Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov filmed the "Russian Ark" about the Hermitage museum in a single take on a digital camera. This was the only Russian movie to reach this year's Cannes festival. Sokurov, whose previous films include "Telets" about Lenin's last days and "Molokh," about Hitler and Eva Braun, says "educated viewers" are his audience -- and foreign partners are his financial backers. CC

AGREEMENT PAVES WAY FOR RELEASE OF CLASSICAL-MUSIC ARCHIVE. After years of legal disputes, many thousands of hours of classical-music performances from Soviet archives have been cleared for commercial release in the West, AP reported on 13 June. Los Angeles-based Pipeline Music intends to release the first 20 compact discs in the series this year. The archives -- which include about 400,000 recordings including performances by pianist Van Cliburn, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, American singer Paul Robeson, and many others -- were discovered in Soviet vaults more than a decade ago, but their legal status has been in doubt ever since. A new agreement between Pipeline and the Russian government has broken the logjam and paved the way for the material to be released. The archives also include a smaller amount of video material, including rare footage of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

ONE YEAR LATER: JOURNALIST'S MURDER STILL UNSOLVED. The town of Jagodina on 8 June marked the first anniversary of the murder of Milan Pantic, reporter for the daily "Vecernje novosti." On 14 June, a group of journalists sent a letter of complaint to the Serbian police, protesting that they have still not tracked down the Pantic's killers. ("ANEM Media Update," 8-14 June)

COURT ORDERS COMPENSATION TO JOURNALIST. On 12 June, a court in Pozarevac, the hometown of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevich, ordered the Serbian police to pay a 30,000-dinar fine to daily "Danas" local reporter Mile Veljkovic, who was arrested twice without charges in 2000. ("ANEM Media Update," 8-14 June)

BRIBES TO ATTACK GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA? Serbian Left leader Sinisa Vucinic claimed on 13 June that his party had been offered bribes by the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Socialist Party of Serbia to incite riots during the St. Vitus day rallies. Attacks were allegedly planned against the Serbian government, Radio-Television Serbia (RTS), the daily "Politika," and television studios Studio B and TV Pink. An investigation is under way. ("ANEM Media Update," 8-14 June)

MILOSEVIC SUPPORTERS DEMAND STATE TV SHOW HAGUE TRIAL. On 12 June, a crowd of Milosevic supporters gathered outside the state television building demanding live coverage of their former leader's war crimes trial. Bringing traffic to a standstill, the protestors shouted "we want live broadcasts" and "freedom for Slobodan." RTS stopped broadcasting the trial live shortly after it began in February, claming it was too expensive. TV stations with mobile satellite access can connect to the tribunal's internal television system and provide live broadcast coverage of The Hague tribunal free of charge. ("ANEM Media Update," 8-14 June)

'DANAS' JOURNALISM AWARD. On 9 June, Mihal Ramacm, reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the daily "Danas," was awarded the 2002 Stanislav-Stasa Marinkovic Prize for "courage and special achievements in research and analytical journalism." ("ANEM Media Update," 8-14 June)

NOVA TV SUBSIDIARY SAYS CZECH DEVELOPMENTS NOT AFFECTING IT. A spokesman for the Joj Slovak commercial station said on 14 June that the station will not be affected by the dispute within CET 21. Ludovit Toth said that although Vladimir Zelezny has played an important role in the creation of Joj as a Nova TV subsidiary, the Slovak station "is an independent company with an independent management." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June)

IFJ: INVESTIGATE ATTACK ON JOURNALIST. On 14 June, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world's largest journalists' organization, called upon the Slovenian authorities to initiate an independent investigation into the unsolved attack in February 2000 against investigative journalist Miro Petek. A 14 June IFJ report on the Petek case has found that the attack was motivated by the reporter's revelations of corruption in Slovenia. The failed investigation is partly due to the local police force's lack of independence. According to the IFJ report, six other journalists are currently being sued for their coverage of the Petek case. The IFJ has called on the European Union to raise the issue of press freedom in its negotiations for Slovenian accession. (International Federation of Journalists, 14 June)

GUIDE FOR JOURNALISTS IN WAR ZONES. The Center for Journalists in Extreme Situations has published a Russian-language guide for reporters working in war zones. The text can be found at The guide includes legal, psychological, and medical advice, as well as other useful information. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 13 June)

DIVERSITY REPORTING PROGRAM PLANNED FOR SOUTH CAUCASUS. Forty journalists, editors, publishers, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations from throughout the South Caucasus region will gather in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 22 June for a two-day conference on diversity reporting. The conference is a forum for journalists and NGO leaders to examine the depiction of minority groups in the local media, and to discuss ways to improve diversity reporting. Keynote speaker Jiri Dienstbier, the former UN special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, and Yurii Goligorskii, the BBC's Central Asia and Caucasus Service editor, will address the conference. The London-based Media Diversity Institute (MDI) organized the conference with support from the Open Society Institute. MDI operates media-assistance projects in 14 countries and territories, including training journalists and editors in diversity reporting, working with minority organizations on how best to communicate with the media, and working with journalism faculty on developing diversity reporting curricula. For more, e-mail, or see (IJ Net, 17 June)


By Taras Kuzio

The independent media in Belarus are subject to a two-pronged attack by the Sovietophile and pan-Slavic regime led by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The first attack is on the independent media in general. The second is against Belarusian-language publications as part of Lukashenka's drive to continue Soviet-era Russification. These two elements of Lukashenka's attack on the media are interrelated. Independent media that covers political and economic issues is more than likely to be also in democratic opposition to his authoritarian regime. At the same time, Belarusian-language independent media is, not surprisingly, also opposed to a Russifying regime and is linked to center-right national democrats.

The independent press accounts for only 10-15 percent of the official circulation of printed media and generally consists of local publications that are devoted to entertainment and socioeconomic issues. They are largely devoid of political commentary. Of the 1,000 independent publications only 40 report on social or political themes, Andrei Bastunets, a media lawyer and vice president of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, has stressed. Belarus has only 10 independent newspapers, one independent news agency, and a few local newspapers that provide unfettered political commentary.

The state controls and provides subsidies to a number of large publications, such as "Sovietskaya Belorussiya," with a daily circulation of 2 million. In December 2001 Lukashenka, clearly living in his own fantasy world, ordered the editor of "Sovietskaya Belorussiya" to transform it into a newspaper of a "European level". Official publications receive state subsidies for paper, printing, and distribution.

Publishing costs are much higher for independent media, and high cover prices dissuade many readers. The state has also utilized high taxes and heavy fines to try to close down independent publications. Government authorities have increasingly used the tax police to impose restrictions on independent publications. The Magic publishing house has been raided on many occasions by the tax police who have confiscated its printing equipment. Magic prints many independent newspapers, including "Narodnaya Volya," "Rabochy," "Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta."

The Belarusian Association of Journalists believes that a new draft law, which was submitted to parliament in November 2001, would erode freedom of the press even further. If approved, the law would ban any mention of unregistered parties and NGOs in the media, simplify procedures for the state to close newspapers, and prohibit media outlets from receiving assistance from abroad. In April, the British NGO Article 19 condemned the draft legislation on media and information security as well as articles in the Criminal Code pertaining to freedom of expression, as being in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Severe punishment of journalists in libel suits, Article 19 claims, aims to intimidate opposition and independent journalists. An ongoing court case against journalist Pavel Mazheyka and Mikola Markevich, editor of the banned newspaper "Pahonya," is an example of how libel charges are selectively used to dissuade journalists from publishing criticism of Lukashenka. Markevich told the court, "It is absurd to try people's thoughts, arguments, and convictions". An issue of "Pahonya" -- with articles accusing Lukashenka of organizing a death squad active against his opponents in the late 1990s -- was confiscated by the police even before it was circulated. Following the re-election of Lukashenka in September 2001, the Minsk regional committee launched a libel case against Iosif Syaredzich, the editor of "Narodnaya Volya", for publishing allegations that the committee head had instructed village-level committees to falsify the election outcome. "Narodnaya Volya" was also warned in April about printing articles on Belarusian involvement in illegal arms trafficking. "Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta" was warned in January about articles it ran on police brutality against arrested oppositionists, a frequent occurrence. After two such warnings, the law allows the authorities to close down publications, as was the case with "Pahonya."

The launch of a second channel on Belarusian television in May is not likely to make matters better. The channel will operate on the same frequencies of Russian public TV and will rebroadcast many of its programs. Belarusian Channel 2 will therefore be similar to Ukraine's Inter, which broadcasts on Ukrainian Channel 3. Whereas "Inter" are three quarters in the Russian language, Belarusian Channel 2 runs only Russian programs. The other difference between them is that Inter is privately owned whereas the state controls 51 percent of Belarusian Channel 2. The use of the same frequencies would allow Lukashenka to select which Russian television programs should be rebroadcast in Belarus. Lukashenka has long complained at the alleged "bias" of Russian media reports on Belarus. NTV correspondent Andrey Savinykh was warned in February by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry about his reports on repression of oppositionists.

The attack on Belarusian-language publications is aimed at both state and independent media. The state-run "Chyrvonaya zmena," in existence for 81 years, has been forced to merge with "Zvyazda." "Chyrvonaya zmena" had never published any opposition material and its closure was not so much political as aimed at reducing the number of Belarusian-language publications. The independent daily "Nasha Niva" was warned in March for publishing information about the unregistered Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. (Lukashenka backs the Belarusian Orthodox Church, the autonomous branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, because it supports his Sovietophile pan-Slavism.) The closure of "Pahonya" in November 2001 -- after two official warnings -- has left Belarus without any provincial Belarusian-language newspaper which covers politics. "Zvyazda" remains the only Belarusian-language publication that is circulated throughout Belarus, but it is state-owned. Markevich -- the editor of the former "Pahonya" who is currently on trial for libel of Lukashenka -- has been unable to gain official registration for three replacement newspapers: "Hazeta Pahonya," "Holas," and "Muzhytskaya Prauda".

Earlier this year, an Office of Literature and Art was established within the Ministry of Information. The new office has taken over publications ("Polymya," "Maladosts," "Krynitsa," "Literatura I mastatstva," "Neman") previously managed by the Union of Writers, a move that follows earlier confiscation by the state of the union's property. Three reasons account for these moves: First, it represents an attempt to control the country's cultural life as the Union of Writers is sympathetic to the national democratic opposition. Second, the authorities are negatively disposed towards Belarusian language and culture. Syarhey Kastsyan, the head of the newly created office, has said, "We must accept that books written in the Belarusian language are not successful in the country." Third, and probably most important, Lukashenka sees the media as instruments through which he can fashion a Sovietophile, pan-Slavic state ideology for Belarus.

Dr. Taras Kuzio is a resident fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto.