16 August 2002, Volume
IFEX MEMBERS SUPPORT LEGAL APPEAL OF SUBPOENAED REPORTER.
In a case that could set an important precedent for journalists covering conflicts, 12 IFEX members signed onto a legal appeal for Jonathan Randal, a former reporter for "The Washington Post." He has been subpoenaed to testify before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Led by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the signatories are backing a "friend of the court" brief to be filed on 16 August. Randal is appealing a 7 June ICTY ruling ordering him to testify on the accuracy of his 1993 "Washington Post" article. CPJ says forcing Randal to testify before the tribunal would set a "dangerous precedent" that could compromise the future safety and perceived neutrality of journalists in war zones. CPJ notes that the ICTY's ruling acknowledged that any attempt to subpoena journalists must be "conducted and regulated in a way which will not unduly hamper, obstruct or otherwise frustrate the vital role of news gathering of the journalist and/or media." The ruling also said Randal will not be compelled to divulge confidential sources or unpublished information, and will not be exposed to physical harm for testifying. For more, see http://www.cpj.org/news/2002/Hague11june02na.html. To view the ICTY's 7 June ruling, go to http://www.un.org/icty/ind-e.htm under "Brdjanin, Talic and Zupljanin (IT-99-36) 'Krajina.'" (IFEX Communique, 13 August)OSCE YEARBOOK EXAMINES 11 SEPTEMBER AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.
The 2001/2002 "Freedom of the Media Yearbook," recently published by the office of the OSCE's Freedom of the Media Representative, focuses on 11 September and its effects on the media. Essays by widely published media critics, such as "Taliban" author and journalist Ahmed Rashid, OSCE Freedom of the Media Representative Freimut Duve, and Leonard Sussman of Freedom House, examine whether the U.S. "war on terrorism" has compromised press freedom. To view the yearbook online, see http://www.osce.org/fom/documents/books/yearbook.php3. (IFEX Communique, 13 August)MEDIA NGOS IN THE OSCE REGION.
The updated version of "Media NGO's in the OSCE Region" is available online as well as in print. Access it at: http://www.osce.org/fom/ngo/. (IFEX Communique, 13 August)EUROPEAN JOURNALISM FELLOWSHIPS IN BERLIN.
Journalists from Europe and the United States are invited to apply for one of the European Journalism Fellowships from the Journalisten-Kolleg at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin. Applications for European journalists are due on 31 October and for American journalists on 15 December. Participants can leave their media organizations for two semesters and spend one year on sabbatical at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin. The program begins in October 2003 and ends in July 2004. Highly qualified journalists, in both full and freelance employment, with several years of professional experience are entitled to apply. Key is a project proposal to be pursued in Berlin. Applicants should be 25 or older but younger than 40 and should have a good knowledge of German. Recent awards have gone to journalists from Albania, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, the United States, and Germany. For more, Email firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.kommwiss.fu-berlin.de/~ejf/E/
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER APPEALS FOR PAPER.
The editor of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," Rauf Arifoglu, on 6 August called for public support in purchasing paper. He said he could prevent his paper's financial collapse by "playing up to the authorities" but decided instead to ask the public for support. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)JOURNALIST ASSOCIATION TO SET UP NEW BRANCHES.
Yeni Nesil (New Generation), an association of Azerbaijan's journalists, is planning to set up branches in six parts of the country, association Chairman Arif Aliyev said. Regional papers with circulation of 200-500 are "totally dependent on the authorities," he said. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)
MINSK CURTAILS RUSSIAN BROADCASTING, THEN BACKS DOWN.
Belarusian authorities on 13 August halted retransmission of the Russian radio stations Yunost and Mayak and cut back airtime of the RTR, NTV, and Kultura television networks, Belarusian media reported. The Belarusian State Television and Radio Company, which covers the costs of transmitting Russian television and radio programs in Belarus, said the previous day that the financial burden connected with these retransmissions is much to bear. "The reasons given by the Belarusian side hide the real causes behind the switch-off," Ekho Moskvy quoted Gennadii Sklyar, general director of the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting System, as saying. "[President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka is flexing his ideological muscles on the eve of his meeting with Putin [on 14 August]," Belarusian Association of Journalists Chairwoman Zhana Litvina told AP. Belarusian television reported late on 13 August that the broadcasting of Russian radio and television networks in Belarus has been fully restored. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August)JOURNALIST INTERROGATED OVER ARTICLE INVOLVING PROSECUTOR-GENERAL.
The Prosecutor-General's Office on 13 August interrogated journalist Iryna Khalip in connection with an article she published last week in the "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" supplement "Dlya sluzhebnogo polzovaniya" (For Official Use), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Referring to an audio recording made by the KGB, Khalip alleged that Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman may have accepted a bribe for closing a criminal investigation. "I think I hit the bull's-eye with my article," Khalip told RFE/RL. "Sheyman's position is insecure now. Society has already learned a lot about Sheyman's role in different cases. And here is a new case involving him in criminal business.... Now Sheyman simply wants to know whether I know more and intend to go on with this topic." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August)TRADE UNION BOSS SACKS EDITOR OF PRESS ORGAN.
Leanid Kozik, the newly appointed head of the Belarusian Trade Union Federation (FPB), has fired Alyaksandr Starykevich from the post of editor in chief of the FPB press organ, "Belaruski chas," Belapan reported on 8 August. Last month the FPB Presidium voted down Kozik's proposal to sack Starykevich. "I cannot work with a newspaper that does not share my views," Kozik said in explaining his reasons for getting rid of Starykevich. "The dismissal order is an eloquent example of what has happened to collective decision-making in the FPB," Starykevich said of his ouster. Kozik, previously deputy chief of the presidential administration, is widely believed to have been sent by President Lukashenka to stifle antigovernment dissent in Belarus's trade union movement. The FPB is expected to hold a national congress in September. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)
LOWER HOUSE REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION ON FOREIGN MINISTRY INVESTIGATION...
The Chamber of Deputies rejected on 8 July a motion submitted by the opposition Civic Democratic Party and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia to set up an investigative commission to probe dubious contracts awarded by the Foreign Ministry, CTK reported. The motion was submitted in connection with media reports questioning the role played by Karel Srba, the former secretary at the ministry who is currently under investigation for allegedly contracting the murder of journalist Sabina Slonkova. The motion was supported by 96 deputies -- three short of the minimum number of votes needed for approval. In related news, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said on 8 August that he will resign if any proof of interference on his part or on the part of other politicians is produced regarding the current Srba investigation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)...AND FAILS AGAIN TO BACK MARVANOVA AS COMMISSION HEAD.
For a second time, the Chamber of Deputies failed on 8 August to elect Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU) deputy Hana Marvanova as chairwoman of its Media Commission, CTK reported. The news agency said that the new government coalition is apparently facing its first crisis and cited US-DEU parliamentary group leader Karel Kuehnl as calling for negotiations among the coalition parties regarding the matter. Under the coalition agreement, the post is to go to a US-DEU representative. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)
NEWSPAPERS BY THE NUMBERS.
The circulation of newspapers in July was lower than in June, ETA reported on 2 August. The tabloid "SL Ohtuleht" continued to have the largest circulation among daily papers, although its circulation decreased by 700 to 65,400. The circulation of "Postimees" fell 1,600 to 59,600, and that of "Eesti Paevaleht" fell 1,500 to 33,800. "Eesti Ekspress" remained the largest weekly, though its circulation dropped by 500 to 45,100. The most successful Russian-language weekly was "Vesti nedelya plyus" with a circulation of 19,600, while "Molodezh Estonii" and "Estoniya" were the leading dailies with circulation of 7,900 and 6,300, respectively. ("RFE/RL Baltic States Report," 15 August)
FORMER PREMIER MEETS PRESIDENT OVER MEDIA COMPLAINTS.
Former Premier Viktor Orban met with President Ferenc Madl on 12 August for talks that included the situation among state media, according to reports in the Hungarian press. Orban said the independence of the media has come under increasing attack in recent weeks and described the situation as "serious." In a statement released by his chief of staff, Csaba Hende, Orban said he is concerned about the impartiality of state-owned Hungarian Television (MTV) following a spate of personnel changes there. An increasingly less impartial MTV, he said, will also lead to further bias within the media in general, which might have "far-reaching consequences for both democracy and for foreign appraisal of developments in Hungary." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)RIGHT PLANS RALLIES ON DEFENSE OF PRESS FREEDOM.
Hende said on 13 August that civic (polgari) groups identifying themselves with the right are planning large-scale demonstrations in defense of freedom of the press on 30 August, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Hende said the protests aim to bring about the dismissal of Hungarian Television (MTV) Deputy Chairman Imre Ragats and to reinstate dismissed MTV journalists. He said other protest rallies are also planned but refused to give details. Istvan Wisinger, head of the largest Hungarian journalists association, MUOSZ, said in response that he is surprised by the "sudden and passionate interest" in press freedom displayed by FIDESZ supporters. Wisinger pointed out that when Orban was prime minister, he said nothing in reaction to the International Federation of Journalists' negative evaluation of Hungarian media freedom at MTV that was issued in 2001. Orban also did not react to later criticism by an international monitoring commission that noted MTV's clear pro-FIDESZ bias during the 2002 parliamentary elections, Wisinger said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August)
JOURNALIST DETAINED IN PAVLODAR.
Acting without a warrant, National Security Committee (NSC) operatives in Pavlodar detained Sagingali Kapizov, an independent journalist from Atyrau. A criminal case of insulting President Nursultan Nazarbaev had been opened against him but was later suspended. The case was reopened on 24 July and a decision made to detain him. Kapizov is being held in the NSC Pavlodar remand center and will be sent to Atyrau. Local journalists attribute the NSC action to President Nazarbaev's recent remark that the Criminal Code article on protection of his honor and dignity is dormant, since no one has been convicted under it. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)DECLINING MEDIA FREEDOM DECRIED.
The Kazakhstan-based International Human Rights Bureau on 6 August issued a statement saying that, since its previous protest in May, there has been a further "sharp deterioration of the freedom of speech and media situation in the country." The NGO called on the international and Kazakh communities to take note of increasing reprisals against political opposition and independent media and to demand that Kazakh authorities honor their international commitments. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)REPORTER'S ARREST: START OF CRACKDOWN ON INTERNET JOURNALISM?
The initiation of a criminal case for insulting the president's honor and dignity against journalist Sergei Duvanov may mark the start of an assault on Internet journalism in the country, journalists believe. According to Maksim Kimasov, vice president of the National Press Club, "The Duvanov case gives the authorities a pretext for imposing their dominance in the Internet that, unlike printed media, still makes it possible to disseminate criticism." ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)
NEW KYRGYZ-LANGUAGE RADIO STATION IN NARYN.
Almaz-Naryn, a new radio station founded by Rustam Koshmuratov that will broadcast 24 hours a day in the Kyrgyz language, has been registered in Naryn. According to the station's director, Zharkyn Ibraeva, Almaz-Naryn will broadcast current-affairs and entertainment programs as well as analytical programs produced by the radio station. The station will also retransmit news programs by Radio Azattyk (a service of RFE/RL) and the Voice of America. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)
DEBATING TV POLITICAL DEBATE CRITERIA.
Several political parties are protesting the decision of Latvian State Television (LTV) General Director Uldis Grava to allow only parties that have at least a 4 percent popularity rating in the polls by SKDS and Latvijas fakti to participate in pre-election debates hosted by LTV, saying that it is not democratic, LETA reported on 7 August. Grava countered by noting that all parties will be given 20 minutes of free program time and can purchase more advertising time for a fee. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told BNS on 8 August that she supports LTV's decision, noting that unless some criteria exist for participation in the debates, "three or four friends would get together, announce they have a new party here, and demand broadcasting time." ("RFE/RL Baltic States Report," 15 August)
HEAD OF BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION DEPLORES NEW PUBLIC BROADCASTING LAW.
The parliament could have created a genuine public broadcaster but apparently had no intention of doing so, the president of the Association of Electronic Media (APEL) said in a 9 August interview with BASA Press news agency. The new law does not provide for editorial or economic independence, or autonomy in public-broadcasting management. He added that the new law was drafted by the presidential administration. APEL had drawn up a draft public broadcasting law that was favorably received by the Council of Europe. The APEL draft provided for management by an administrative council composed of representatives nominated by the authorities, political parties, the staff of the institution, and various professional groups. The council was to be financed through advertising and subscription fees, plus state funds. Although the APEL draft had passed the first reading, the Communist parliamentary majority refused to accept its provisions on management. ("Moldova Media News," 15 August)PRIVATE RADIO STATION TO BE LAUNCHED.
On 9 August, the private company Timpuri Noi announced plans to launch a radio station. Univers FM will broadcast original programming to Chisinau, Infotag reported. ("Moldova Media News," 15 August)
RADIO MARYJA'S 'INFLUENTIAL FUNDAMENTALIST'...
In 1990, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk started Radio Maryja in Torun as a local radio station; in 1993, the station received a concession for broadcasting nationwide. Today, Radio Maryja claims a regular listenership of 14 percent of adult Poles (some 4 million people) and touts itself as the most influential Catholic media outlet in Poland. The weekly "Wprost" called Father Rydzyk -- who remains the head of Radio Maryja -- "the most influential religious fundamentalist in Europe." ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)...EVANGELIZING BUNDESWEHR...
The daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" on 7 August ran a report asserting that Radio Maryja is also spreading the gospel to Germany's Bundeswehr. "This is Radio Maryja, the Catholic voice in your home." These words, in Polish, were reportedly heard some time ago by a Luftwaffe pilot during a routine flight on the short-wave frequency 7,400 kilohertz, which is used by the Bundeswehr for military communications. It took some time for the Bundeswehr to identify the station interfering with Luftwaffe messages, but the German Defense Ministry eventually turned for help to the Polish General Staff. In turn, General Lech Konopka asked the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council Chairman Juliusz Braun for an explanation. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)...FROM RUSSIA...
Father Rydzyk's explanation "stupefied everyone," according to "Gazeta Wyborcza." The radio signal on the 7,400-kilohertz frequency is transmitted not from Poland but from the Russian Federation. In line with a license issued by the Russian Media Ministry and an agreement signed in 1997 with the RTRS company it owns, the transmitters used by Father Rydzyk's network are located in Krasnodar (southern Russia). Radio Maryja broadcasts in Poland on UHF frequencies; its license does not allow for its signal to be emitted on short waves, which have become less popular. It remains a mystery why Father Rydzyk needs a short-wave transmission as well. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)...TOTALLY LEGALLY.
"Everything is in line with the law," "Gazeta Wyborcza" quoted experts from the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council as saying. "The Polish broadcaster, who did not have the possibility to broadcast on short waves in Poland, obtained such a license in Russia and broadcasts into Poland [from there]," the daily related. "Before the Radio Maryja signal reaches Poland, it passes many countries on its way. One can confidently claim that Radio Maryja primarily targets Catholics who live east of the Bug River [which runs along a portion of Poland's border with Belarus and Ukraine]. The evangelization of German troops is a side effect." ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)
NEWSPAPER APPEALS FOR ASSISTANCE IN TRACKING REPORTER...
The daily "Timisoara" on 11 August appealed to international human rights and media groups to help find journalist Iosif Costinas, who disappeared two months ago, AP reported. Costinas had written articles about sensitive subjects, such as the unresolved killings during the December 1989 anticommunist revolt and the continued presence in high positions of former Securitate officers. Prior to his appearance, he was near completion of a book on the business underworld in Timisoara, which is located near the Yugoslav and Hungarian borders. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)...WHILE ANOTHER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER IS TARGET OF INTIMIDATION.
On 14 August, the International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), expressed concern over the Costinas disappearance. The groups also called attention to efforts to intimidate a journalist who wrote critical reports about members of the ruling Social Democratic Party in Romania. Silvia Vrinceanu Nichita, correspondent for the opposition daily newspaper "Evenimentul zilei," became a target of intimidation after she published articles alleging possible corruption among members of the Social Democratic Party's local leaders in the town of Focsani. In an apparent attempt to smear her reputation, private television station OTV broadcast a seven-year-old video clip showing Vrinceanu, scantily dressed, at a private New Year's party. (International Press Institute (IPI), 14 August)
IS REGIONAL PRESS DISTRIBUTION COMING UNDER MONOPOLY CONTROL?
According to a number of media reports, Viktor Tochilkin, chairman of the Rospechat board of directors -- the company that previously held the monopoly for the distribution of print media -- is buying up shares of Rospechat's regional branches. Earlier, a significant portion of Rospechat's central branch was bought by Bazovyi Element, at which aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska heads the board of directors. According to the Union of Publishers and Distributors of Periodicals (UPDP), some financial and industrial groups may position themselves to control major packets of shares of regional companies that distribute print media, including Rospechat. Such transactions are sometimes made under threat of forced bankruptcy. The UPDP believes that businesses and local governments are employing such methods in order to restrict competition between the distributors and publishers of periodicals. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)'BLACK PR' GOES ON TRIAL...
One of the first -- if not the first -- criminal cases brought against a practitioner of "black PR" will reopen in Lenin Raion Court in Perm on 13 August, regions.ru reported on 8 August. Dmitrii Mikhailov of Yekaterinburg is accused of extortion and the dissemination of falsehood via advertisements. Mikhailov allegedly started a campaign to discredit the local Tolstyak brand beer. After articles started appearing in the local press about the discovery of intestinal bacteria in the beer, Mikhailov reportedly demanded $15,000 from the beer maker's directors to stop the campaign. The managers instead turned to the police, who arrested Mikhailov. The company reckons it sustained 16 million rubles ($507,000) in damages from the campaign. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," one reason Mikhailov's case is considered the first is a gap in federal legislation prohibiting so-called "black PR" that makes the prosecution of such cases difficult. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)...AS ELECTION CHIEF CALLS FOR PUBLIC-RELATIONS LICENSES, MEDIA RESTRICTIONS...
Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, speaking at a press conference in Krasnoyarsk on 8 August, proposed issuing state licenses to public-relations firms, strana.ru reported. He said that his observations of the gubernatorial campaign in Krasnoyarsk Krai have convinced him of the urgent necessity for such a measure. Veshnyakov said unnamed public-relations companies "have already become dangerous for the election process, and they must be eliminated." He also called for unspecified changes to the law on mass media that would "limit the freedom to lie and to earn money by dishonest means." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)BUYING TIME TO TELL WORKERS NOT TO WORRY THAT THEY'RE NOT GETTING PAID.
A tour by the leadership of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party of several Russian regions wrapped up on 9 August with a press conference outlining its results, VolgaInform reported. The leadership's trip was accompanied by a massive advertising campaign that included billboards telling state workers who have not been receiving their salaries on time "not to lose hope." According to the agency, "Vedomosti" reported that the cost of the party's advertising campaign was 7 million rubles ($226,000) a month, which is more than the large consumer products manufacturer Proctor & Gamble typically spends on advertising in Russia. However, that estimate likely understates the party's real advertising expenditures, VolgaInform reported. According to information from the firm Mediaplanning and the Russian Public Relations Group, Unified Russia has likely been spending up to 20 million rubles ($645,000) a month -- not 7 million rubles. Recently, Unified Russia overtook the Communist Party in a number of opinion polls. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)PAPER'S OFFICE IN KOMI IS FIREBOMBED.
During the night of 6 August, several Molotov cocktails were thrown into the windows of the paper "Stefanovsky Bulvar" in Syktyvkar, the capital of the Republic of Komi. Although firemen quickly put out the fire, damage to the paper is evaluated at 250,000 rubles. "This could be an act of political revenge," Editor in Chief A. Polkin said, although he also did not rule out that the incident was part of a gang war, since the car of one of the paper's founders had been burned near the scene of the bombing. The police are inclined to believe that the arson was the work of a criminal gang. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Report," 5-11 August)YEKATERINBURG POLICE BROUGHT TO ACCOUNT FOR BEATING REPORTERS?
On 6 August, the Yekaterinburg Interior Directorate sent to the procuracy the case of police officers who are alleged to have beaten reporters from local Studiya-41 TV company outside the U.S. consulate three days earlier. The policemen prevented the filming of a skinhead rally outside the consulate building and, in the process, broke a video recorder and beat up reporters before taking the film crew to a police station, where they were held for five hours. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Russia Report," 5-11 August)NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY LAUNCHED.
Regnum, a new national news agency, began operations on 22 July. It comprises a network of regional news agencies and correspondents, including news agencies, the Samara-based VolgaInform and St. Petersburg-based Baltika, along with affiliates Knews in Krasnoyarsk, MurmanNews in Murmansk, and MariNews in Yoshkar-Ola. Regnum intends to expand its information network and open new correspondent bureaus. The new agency plans to diversify information flows by providing opportunities to local authorities, NGOs, and smaller news agencies to contribute their own input. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)A DICTIONARY OF THEIR OWN.
At a ceremony at Moscow's Historical Museum on Red Square on 14 August, representatives of dozens of women's organizations presented the newly published "Dictionary of Gender Terms," "Izvestiya" reported the next day. "The publication of this dictionary is really something of a revolutionary event for our country," said Nadezhda Azhgikhina, co-chairwoman of the Association of Women Journalists. "Earlier, discussions were constantly arising over what 'gender' means, and many people confused it with the word 'tender' [another English cognate in the sense of 'a competitive bidding process']." The new dictionary includes lengthy definitions of terms such as "workplace discrimination," "gender quotas," and "men's-rights movement." According to Azhgikhina, more than 30 million Russians currently receive assistance from nongovernmental organizations and "the majority of those who work in such organizations are women." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 August)NEW ISLAMIC PAPER IN SAMARA OBLAST.
The first issue of the Islamic paper "Bulgar" appeared on 19 July at newsstands in the city of Syzran in Samara Oblast. Ilgizar Sagdeev is the editor of the periodical, which is published by the Syzran section of the Regional Spiritual Board of Samara Oblast Muslims. The newspaper will be published twice a month with a print run of 1,000. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)
BELGRADE DAILY 'DANAS' FINED...
On 6 August, Belgrade daily "Danas" and its editor in chief, Grujica Spasovic, were ordered by a court to each pay a fine of 150,000 dinars ($2,434) based on charges brought by former Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic. Cosic sued the daily over an article published last year accusing him of ordering the bombing of the Croatian town of Vukovar in 1991. ("ANEM Weekly," 3-9 August)...DRAWING PROTEST FROM ANEM.
On 8 August, ANEM noted that "Danas" committed a "serious professional error" in publishing the article, since Cosic was not in fact Yugoslav president when Vukovar came under siege in 1991. ANEM added, however, that the paper published the text "as an authorial text without an editorial stance or comment -- just as it published Cosic's denial as soon as they received it, providing an appropriate opportunity to deny the claims made in the text." ANEM urged the judges to consider the "threat of self-censorship" that could emerge from court-ordered high fines, "thus violating another basic human right of freedom of press and public information." The statement called for a Public Information Act to provide more detailed regulation of this field. ("ANEM Weekly," 3-9 August)FORMER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TO SUE PAPER.
The president of the Movement for a Democratic Serbia, Momcilo Perisic, announced on 8 August that he will file criminal charges against daily "Nacional" over claims that he had given military information to the German intelligence service. Perisic is claiming 10 million dinars (about 165,000 euros) in damages after the paper published his photograph on its front page with the caption "General gave secrets to German intelligence service" and the headline "Perisic worked for Germans." The accompanying article claimed that in the autumn of 1998, when Perisic was chief of staff of the Yugoslav Army, he passed details about operations in Kosova to then-German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping. Perisic told journalists on 8 August that the article in the German magazine "Konkret" quoted by the "Nacional" writer provided no basis for such headlines and that there were inconsistencies between the original article and reporting of it by "Nacional." ("ANEM Weekly," 3-9 August)EDITOR OF HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE DAILY SUSPENDED.
Erzebet Marijanov, editor of Hungarian language daily "Magyar Szo," was officially suspended and banned from entering the newspaper's building on 5 August under the orders of its director, who accused her of abusing her position. The suspended editor claimed the Vojvodina assembly was the only body authorized to make such a decision. ("ANEM Weekly," 3-9 August)
PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION RECOMMENDS REPLACING TV DIRECTOR.
The parliament's Media Commission on 8 August recommended that parliament heed the Slovak Television Council's recommendation in July to replace Slovak Television Director Milan Materak, TASR reported. The commission recommended that Materak be replaced by Marian Kleis, director of Slovak Television's Kosice programs. On 23 July, the Slovak Television Council recommended that Materak be fired, criticizing him for having signed a collective contract that grants managers large severance payment in exchange for having agreed with the unions on a 10 percent pay raise for employees. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)MARKIZA TV ACCUSED OF BIASED COVERAGE.
The government's Press and Information Office on 8 August said commercial broadcaster Markiza TV violated its obligation to provide broad news coverage by failing to report on a government press conference one day earlier, TASR reported. The conference featured Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda and other members of his cabinet positively evaluating the government's four-year performance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2002). "If the news service of Markiza TV regularly provides information, commentary, and analysis of the government's decisions and fulfillment of its program, then failing to inform about how the government itself evaluates its fulfillment of the program...can be considered a violation of objectivity," the Press and Information Office said. Markiza TV is co-owned by Pavol Rusko, who is also leader of the Alliance for a New Citizen (ANO) and has often been criticized for giving extended coverage to ANO in its news coverage. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)
COURT DENIES RADIO STATION LICENSE, BUT ALLOWS IT TO OPERATE?
On 8 August, the Kyiv Economic Court ruled that the city's Kontinent radio station could operate for 10 more years -- and around the clock -- but revoked its license. The radio station had relayed various Western broadcasts until its license was revoked when it brought suit against the TV and Radio Broadcasting Council. The radio station's lawyers believe a future ruling by the European Court of Human Rights -- which has agreed to consider the Kontinent v. Ukraine case -- will play a decisive role. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)ARE ANTI-SEMITIC PUBLICATIONS ON THE INCREASE?
According to a 9 August statement by the chairman of the Anti-Fascist Committee of Ukraine, Alexander Shlayen, "numerous individuals and media outlets have emerged recently" that want to disturb the ethnic situation in the country. Shlayen referred in particular to the paper "Idealist" and the magazine "Personal," and called on the Ukrainian authorities to "respond properly to anti-Semitic articles" in those two publications. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)STATE MEDIA TO PAY SYMBOLIC RENT.
Cabinet ministers decreed on 9 July that state and municipal broadcasting companies and their periodicals can pay a symbolic amount of one hryvnya a year (less than 20 cents) for the rent of government property. The same rent is set for the periodicals established by public associations, state research and educational institutions, and by post offices that distribute periodicals. In contrast, however, the new decree does not cover advertising or erotic periodicals or media outlets founded in Ukraine by international organizations or with the participation of legal entities or individuals from other countries or stateless individuals. For such media outlets, the decree sets the rent at 7 percent of the commercial evaluation of the real estate. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)
PRESS ADVOCATE DETAINED.
Ruslan Sharipov, head of Ezgulik human rights society press center and president of the Union of Independent Journalists, was detained in Tashkent on 10 August. A district police official who did not show identity papers detained Sharipov on charges of disseminating illegal information. The policeman showed Sharipov a 9 August Ezgulik press release titled: "Uzbekistan: Religious Believers Tortured to Death in Detention Centers." Sharipov was later taken for questioning to a police station. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)ISP EASTLINK'S LICENSE CANCELED.
On 7 July, the Uzbekistan Agency for Communications and Information canceled the license of EastLink, the country's third-largest Internet service provider (ISP) because it connected to international networks circumventing the national data-transmission network run by the UzPAK national company. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)CENTRAL ASIA'S LARGEST PRINTING PLANT TO BE PRIVATIZED.
The Uzbekistan State Property Committee has offered up for sale 44 percent of Shark, a publishing and printing joint-stock company. It is the largest printing and publishing house in Central Asia and controls over half of the region's print market. The company comprises all stages of the production cycle, including manuscripts editing and print preparation as well as distribution. According to the State Property Committee, the company has been profitable for the last four years. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)MEDIA DEMOCRATIZATION GROUP LAUNCHED IN KHOREZM.
Intercontact, a new center founded by journalists, students, and public figures, was opened in the Khorezm Oblast on 3 July. The new non-profit NGO will promote the democratization of media. According to Sergei Naumov, Intercontact�s executive director, high production costs for periodicals, smaller print runs, and a shortage of young journalists has had a negative impact on regional publications. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)PRESS AND INFORMATION AGENCY LAUNCHED.
Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov last month issued a decree setting up the Uzbek Agency for Press and Information (UAPI). Two months previously, Karimov abolished the State Committee for Press of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which had functioned primarily as a censorship agency. The UAPI is to monitor observance of media legislation and the guarantees of freedom of expression and press, license publishing businesses, take part in the development and implementation of state policy in advertising, and register and license media outlets. The presidential decree stipulates that the UAPI can only cancel licenses on the basis of "court rulings" and forbids the agency from "conducting censorship or editing, introducing restrictions and other forms of illegal meddling in the activities of media outlets." ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)
IRANIAN PRESIDENT TO RAISE CASE OF JOURNALIST MURDERED IN AFGHANISTAN...
Iranian government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh on 7 August said that one of the topics of discussion during President Mohammad Khatami's visit to Kabul during the week of 19 August would be the case of the Iranian government officials and an IRNA reporter who were killed by the Taliban in Mazar-i-Sharif in August 1998, according to IRNA. ("RFE/RL Iran Report," 12 August)...AS TALIBAN SUSPECT REPORTEDLY IN DETENTION...
Taliban commander Mullah Wali, who is suspected of being responsible for the murders Iranian officials and the IRNA reporter, was detained in Herat in early December, an anonymous "informed source" told IRNA on 27 December 2001. The source told IRNA at the time that Mullah Wali was being held at a prison in western Herat. If Mullah Wali is indeed in custody, it is odd that Herat's Governor Ismail Khan, who is close to the Iranian government, has not made this suspect available to the Iranians. Tehran claims that the officials were diplomats, but many observers believe that they actually were intelligence officers. ("RFE/RL Iran Report," 12 August)JOURNALIST'S FAMILY SAYS IRANIAN GOVERNMENT 'NOT INTERESTED...'
The brother of Mohammad Saremi, the IRNA reporter who was murdered in Mazar-i-Sharif, told RFE/RL's Persian Service that the Iranian government does not seem very interested in solving the case, and he speculated that the government does not want the case to be examined too closely because of what might be revealed about the Iranian officials. Saremi compared his brother's case to that of "The Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in Pakistan. Saremi pointed out that the U.S. authorities made every effort to bring the culprits to justice. Saremi's brother said that his family wrote a letter to Afghan President Karzai, and Saremi even handed a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan when he visited Tehran, but still there have been no results. ("RFE/RL Iran Report," 12 August)...WHILE MINISTER ASKS FOR PUNISHMENT OF THOSE RESPONSIBLE.
Iran's minister of Islamic culture and guidance, Hojatoleslam Ahmad Masjid-Jamei, sent a letter to Afghan Minister of Information and Culture Raheen Makhdoom asking that the killers be identified and punished, Mashhad radio's Dari-language service reported on 4 August. On the anniversary of the killings -- 7 August -- Makhdoom said: "This tragic incident took place at a time when the holy city of Mazar-i-Sharif was captured by the forces of evil. The martyrdom of the diplomats and the innocent Iranian journalist was against all Islamic and human norms," Kabul's Radio Afghanistan reported. ("RFE/RL Iran Report," 12 August)RUSSIAN MEDIA MINISTRY 'PERPLEXED' BY TURKMEN AUTHORITIES.
The Russian Federation Media Ministry on 14 August expressed its concern about the lack of Russian-language media outlets in Turkmenistan, RosBalt and other Russian media reported. The local publication of the Russian-language press stopped in 1992 and, according to the ministry, since 1997 the Turkmen government has "by various unofficial methods" created obstacles to prevent citizens from subscribing to periodicals from Russia. On 29 July, Turkmen authorities banned the importation of Russian publications altogether. "The Media Ministry is perplexed by such actions from the Turkmen side and is counting on the highest authorities in Turkmenistan to take steps to correct this situation which affects the interests of...every Russian-speaker in Turkmenistan," the ministry's statement said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 August)TWO WORKSHOPS FOR CENTRAL ASIAN JOURNALISTS.
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) will conduct two workshops in Bishkek for 35 Central Asian journalists during the week of 9 September: a two-day basic skills workshop, followed by an advanced investigative reporting program For more, see http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?development/workshops/training_bishkek090902.ht (IJ Net, 12 August)TV NEWS COURSE FOR BALTIC AREA JOURNALISTS.
Senior journalists and editors from the Baltic states, Russia, and Poland are invited to a TV news course, organized by the Baltic Media Center (BMC), from 13-19 October on Bornholm Island in Denmark. The course will focus on principles of free, fair, and impartial TV broadcasting, including impartiality and conflict of interest. Deadline for applications is 1 September. For more, e-mail email@example.com or see http://www.meediakeskus.ee or see www.bmc.dk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. (IJ Net, 12 August)FINANCIAL NEWS REPORTING COURSE FOR CEE JOURNALISTS.
Financial journalists from Southeast European (CEE) print media are invited to a five-day practical writing course, based on Reuters model of "learning by doing," scheduled from October 14 to 18 at the Albanian Media Institute (AMI) in Tirana. The course is organized by the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) with AMI and will be led by two former Reuters bureau chiefs. Interested individuals should contact email@example.com by September 15. Scholarships are available on merit basis through the Albanian Media Institute; contact Genc Caushi at firstname.lastname@example.org (IJ Net, 12 August)
THE HAZARDS OF IRANIAN JOURNALISM
By Bill Samii
Iran commemorated Journalists' Day on 8 August, which is the anniversary of the 1998 killing of an IRNA correspondent by Taliban forces at Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance Hojatoleslam Ahmad Masjid-Jamei wrote to Labor and Social Affairs Minister Safdar Husseini, urging President Mohammad Khatami to designate journalism as a "difficult and hazardous job," "Iran Daily" reported on 5 August. Masjid-Jamei noted that the sensitivity of the profession "mentally and physically inconveniences journalists."
Press closures and frequent court appearances might be considered an inconvenience or a hazard, too -- even the official news agency is facing legal harassment. At a ceremony in Kurdistan Province to mark Journalists' Day, Mehrnush Jafari, director-general of the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry's Domestic Press Department, said that 85 publications have been banned since March 1998, "Entekhab" reported on 11 August.
A Tehran court on 8 August ordered the closure of the daily "Aineh-yi Jonub," which had hit the newsstands just one week earlier, for publishing articles that are "contrary to the law," IRNA reported. It also banned "Ruz-i No," which was to begin publication next week. Judge Said Mortazavi explained: "According to statements published in the press, which have explicitly cited 'Ruz-i No' as a replacement for 'Noruz'...and given the similarity between the two in name and logo, the publication of 'Ruz-i No' is considered as contradicting the press law until the six-month suspension of the daily 'Noruz' expires," according to IRNA. A complaint has been lodged against the "Ruz-i No" managing editor, Tehran parliamentarian Mohammad Naimipur.
Journalist Hashem Aghajari, who recently stirred up a hornet's nest after questioning the religious hierarchy, was detained in Hamedan after coming to the court to be interrogated, IRNA reported on 8 August. He was previously subpoenaed for violating religious sanctities. Aghajari's hearing is scheduled for 31 August. The Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, of which Aghajari is a member, protested the arrest in a 10 August communique that it cabled to IRNA.
The Press Court on 5 August found "Guzarish-i Ruz" managing director Ali Mohammad Mahdavi-Khorrami guilty on charges brought against him by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the Law Enforcement Forces' intelligence office, the prosecutor-general, and Abdolhamid Mohtasham, the managing director of the hard-line weekly "Yalisarat al-Hussein," according to IRNA. The court decided against leniency because Mahdavi-Khorrami has a record of press offenses and absence from court sessions. His sentence has not yet been announced.
An arrest warrant was issued for journalist Masud Behnud, who in February 2001 was sentenced to 19 months in jail, "Iran" newspaper reported on 5 August. Behnud is out of the country, and Mehrabad Airport officials have been instructed to keep an eye out for him. A Tehran court summoned "Aftab-i Yazd" managing editor Mansur Mozaffari to appear by 6 August, IRNA reported on 4 August. He faces 36 complaints from the state prosecutor and the State Inspectorate.
The Revolutionary Court on 7 August said that it had the right to take legal action against the government's Islamic Republic News Agency, for reporting on the Freedom Movement's (Nehzat-i Azadi) rejection of its dissolution. The court asked why IRNA does not relay statements from "other counterrevolutionary groups." IRNA responded on 7 August that Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) aired the same dispatch, and went on to say that IRNA had the right to transmit the news so that the nation and foreigners would not have to rely on foreign media. "Hambastegi" deputy editor Rahmanqoli Qolizadeh notes that the press is being asked to promote national reconciliation because Iran is threatened with invasion, "Hambastegi" reported on 31 July. In the report, Qolizadeh asks, "Is there anything left of the press that it can play this role," noting that the public no longer trusts the press. According to Qolizadeh, if the press is allowed to function, it would be "very formal and artificial" and would not be accepted "either by our people at home or by others abroad."
Bill Samii is the editor of the "RFE/RL Iran Report."