Accessibility links

Media Matters: November 8, 2002

8 November 2002, Volume 2, Number 43
NEW WORLD BANK REPORT LINKS ECONOMIC GROWTH AND FREE PRESS. The World Bank along with the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has released a new report entitled "The Right To Tell -- The Role Of The Mass Media In Economic Development." The report includes 19 chapters by authors including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, author Robert Shiller, and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Writers from the former Soviet Union describe media challenges and show the media's potential as a catalyst for change and growth. Contributors explore the media's role as a watchdog, its power to influence markets, and its potential as a transmitter of new ideas and information and as a voice to the poor. The authors also discuss the potential harm caused by an unethical or irresponsible press and the impact of insult laws and other policies that hamper a free press. To receive a copy of "The Right to Tell -- The Role of the Mass Media in Economic Development," contact

DAILY SUBJECTED TO SURPRISE INSPECTIONS AFTER CRITICIZING PREMIER... Harassment of the media has spiked in Albania recently, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on 5 November. The group has called on the European Union to make press freedom a key part of its association talks with the Albanian government. Last week, the daily "Koha Jone" became the target of government pressure and intimidation after it ran articles critical of Prime Minister Fatos Nano. Days after the newspaper published the critical commentaries, at least five different government agencies sent inspectors to check the compliance of its parent media company with financial, labor, and other regulations. Koha media holdings include two dailies, and one television and one radio station. The timing of the inspections have raised suspicions that they are being used for retaliation. (Human Rights Watch, 5 November)

...AMID PATTERN OF STATE MEDIA PRESSURE? In June, HRW issued a report on the widespread abuse of state advertising and other financial leverage by the Albanian government to suppress critical reporting. HRW called on the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to "monitor closely all kinds of media freedom violations" by Albanian authorities. While officials have a right to take legal action against media outlets that engage in malicious defamation, HRW found that Albanian defamation laws and judicial practice fail to meet international standards of free-speech protection. Despite repeated pledges to reform criminal and civil defamation laws, Albanian authorities have so far failed to do so. (Human Rights Watch, 5 November)

ENTIRE PRINT RUN OF INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER PURLOINED... All 4,600 copies of the 31 October issue of "Aravot" newspaper were bought up by unknown individuals after being delivered from the state-run printing house to the state-run distribution system Haymamul, Noyan Tapan and RFE/ RL's Yerevan bureau reported. "Aravot" Editor Aram Abrahamian attributed the incident to the publication in that issue of an article accusing close associates of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian of resorting to blackmail and other illegal practices to purchase a popular resort complex. "Aravot" has consistently criticized the present Armenian leadership. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

...AND PREMIER SACKS NEWSPAPER-DISTRIBUTION OFFICIAL. Citing unspecified "serious violations," Prime Minister Markarian fired a manager at the state-owned newspaper-distribution agency on 1 November after the mysterious disappearance the previous day of the entire print run of "Aravot," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. President Robert Kocharian is believed to have demanded an explanation of the incident from Markarian. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November)

REPORTER ATTACKED. Gegan Nazarian, a reporter for the opposition paper "Aikanan Zhamanak," was hit on the head with a blunt object on 25 October. Although suspects have been detained, their names have not been released. According to police, it was an "unpremeditated attack." ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 28 October-2 November)

OFFICIAL SUES OPPOSITION PAPER FOR LIBEL. Former State Property Committee Chairman Nadir Nasibov and his deputy, Barat Nuriev, have filed a libel suit against the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," which reported last week that self-exiled former Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny is suing them and other highly placed Azerbaijani officials for alleged abuse of office and demanding bribes in connection with Kozeny's failed bid to privatize Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, Turan reported on 4 November. Nasibov has demanded that Baku's Sabail District Court close down the newspaper for a period of three years and bring criminal charges against the journalists who wrote the series of articles in question. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November)

PARLIAMENTARIANS ACCUSE OPPOSITION PRESS OF 'SLANDER AND LIES.' During a 28 October session, parliamentary speaker Murtuz Aleskerov accused the opposition press of engaging in slander and lies. The paper "Yeni Musavat" was the object of fierce criticism for having published a secret plan to celebrate Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's 80th birthday as a "grand event." ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 28 October-2 November)

'ANTI-PRESIDENTIAL LIBEL' TO BE CRIMINALIZED? Justice Minister Ingrid Anticevic-Marinovic said in Zagreb on 31 October that the government will soon introduce a wide-ranging package of new legislation, including a measure to make "libeling the president" a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

OSCE EXPERT TO ADVISE ON CROATIA'S BROADCAST-MEDIA LAWS. A prominent European media expert will visit Croatia to give technical advice to the government on aligning broadcast-media laws with European standards. Professor Karol Jakubowicz, an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) consultant and chairman of the Standing Committee on Transfrontier Television of the Council of Europe, was expected to begin a three-day visit to Croatia on 8 November. He will review a new draft law on Croatian Radio and Television and provide input for new legislation on private electronic media. He will meet, among others, officials from the ministries of Culture; Transport, Maritime Affairs and Telecommunications; and European Integration. Jakubowicz is the head of Strategic Planning and Development for Polish Television, an adviser to the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council of Poland, and a member of the Digital Strategy Group of the European Broadcasting Union. The visit was arranged in cooperation with the Croatian government and the OSCE Mission to Croatia and is supported by the OSCE representative on freedom of the media. (OSCE, 7 November)

REPORTER THREATENED AND FOLLOWED. Eke Gulua, a correspondent for the paper "Rezonans," has been receiving telephone threats since 25 October. She is also reportedly being followed by unknown individuals. Her colleagues have called on Georgian law-enforcement officials to protect Gulua. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 28 October-2 November)

PUBLIC TELEVISION IN TWO YEARS? Organizing a public-television system for Georgia has become a key issue for the country. The Justice Ministry and a national regulatory communications commission are drafting public-broadcasting legislation. The first draft of a public-broadcasting law should be completed by the end of 2002, at which time it will be sent for expert review to the European Union. Adoption of a new law in line with international standards is a requirement of the Council of Europe for Georgia, a Council member. It is hoped that this law will be ready for adoption by 1 July 2003. Other Council of Europe requirements include the reform of state television channels into independent public entities by the year 2005. The first channel of Georgian state television is slated to be the first to be restructured. ("Yerevan Press Club Regional Bulletin," 4 November)

BIG CHANGES AHEAD FOR STATE TELEVISION NETWORK. The government wants to inject 5.1 billion forints ($20.4 million) into the Hungarian state television network MTV and allocate 1.5 billion forints to the state-run satellite channel Duna TV, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 31 October. In addition, the 2003 budget sets aside 20.8 billion forints for the three state-run stations (MTV-1, MTV-2, and Duna TV) in order to offset the abolition of viewer-subscription fees. MTV's management also announced plans to attract viewers with a revamped image and programs, as well as a new logo. The station has also invested in prominent personalities from commercial television networks. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

ONE REPORTER FREED FROM PRISON, ANOTHER ARRESTED. On 6 November, Reporters Without Borders noted that on 4 November, former Interior Minister Abdullah Nuri, managing editor of the daily newspaper "Khordad," has been released after three years in prison. On the same day, however, journalist Abbas Abdi, director of the Ayandeh public-opinion-research firm, was arrested. Abdi, a former editor of the now-defunct daily newspaper "Salam," has worked for many pro-reform newspapers. Abdi was accused of "having received money from either the U.S. polling firm Gallup or a foreign embassy." In 1991, Abdi was jailed for 11 months for his critical articles about then-President Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme spiritual authority, pardoned Nuri -- a reformer close to President Mohammad Khatami -- after his brother was killed in a road accident. Arrested on 27 November 1999, Nuri was sentenced the same day by the Special Religious Court to five years in prison and his newspaper was also closed. Nuri was accused of 15 offenses, including "antireligious propaganda," "insulting Ayatollah Khomeini," "undermining public opinion," and "having links with the United States." At the time, Nuri denounced the verdict as illegal and accused the court of violating the constitution. (Reporters Without Borders, 6 November)

ARTISTS DISCUSS CENSORSHIP WITH PRESIDENT. President Saddam Hussein met on 2 November with a number of artists -- including actors, directors, and writers -- according to Iraqi Satellite Television. The president discussed a number of issues with the artists and addressed the issue of censorship. Hussein explained that he does not "like" the word "censorship," since Iraq is a small country where most people in a town know each other. Therefore, he prefers the word "interaction" to "censorship." He then added that censorship should be turned into "dialogue" and "interaction," and that Iraqis should show respect for each other. Hussein said Iraqis should exercise self-censorship in their writings, songs, plays, novels, and stories, and added that the word "censorship" in culture and media does not befit the Iraqis. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November)

DETAINED JOURNALIST BEGINS HUNGER STRIKE... Sergei Duvanov, who was detained in Almaty on 28 October on charges of rape, has embarked on a hunger strike after being refused permission to accept food parcels from his family, Interfax reported on 31 October, quoting Duvanov's lawyers. Also on 31 October, a presidential administration official confirmed to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that instructions were faxed to the Almaty City Police from the presidential apparatus -- hours before Duvanov was taken into custody -- on how to field questions at a 28 October press conference devoted to Duvanov's detention. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

...AND REMANDED FOR 10 MORE DAYS. A local prosecutor's office in Almaty on 31 October extended for a further 10 days the term for which Duvanov is to remain in custody on suspicion of rape, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 1 November. Duvanov has called the charges unfounded and politically motivated. In a letter smuggled out of prison, Duvanov said he views his fast as the only way to proclaim his innocence, given the nature of the court system in Kazakhstan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November)

ACTIVIST BRIEFS FRENCH DIPLOMAT ON DETAINED JOURNALIST'S CASE. Yevgenii Zhovtis, who heads the Kazakh office of the International Bureau for Human Rights, told journalists in Almaty on 5 November that he briefed visiting French State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Renaud Muselier earlier that day on Dubanov's detention. ("REFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION TO PREPARE BLACKLIST OF CORRUPT COLLEAGUES. The Association of Journalists in Macedonia (ZNM) announced on 31 October that its professional-standards board will prepare a blacklist of corrupt journalists, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. The organization made the announcement during a Skopje panel discussion on ethical standards in journalism at a large gathering of Macedonian NGOs. Participants recalled a number of cases in which owners of publishing houses, editors, and journalists were either on the payroll of ministries or political parties or were actively involved with racketeering companies. In order to fight graft among journalists, the ZNM proposed increasing efforts to improve professionalism and introducing a licensing system for journalists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

STATE TELEVISION CHANGES DENOMINATION. From 4 November, Moldovan Television, hitherto TVM, has been renamed Moldova 1, or M1, Flux reported the same day. Teleradio Moldova Chairman Ion Gonta said the initiative came from employees of the station, adding that the change in no way affects the current audiovisual law. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November)

JOURNALIST CALLS ON PROSECUTOR-GENERAL TO INITIATE PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ILLEGAL DETENTION. Sergiu Afanasiu, editor in chief of the weekly "Accente," sent a letter to the Prosecutor-General's Office on 5 November demanding that criminal proceedings be launched against those responsible for his detention and the confiscation of the weekly's archives last month, Infotag reported. Afanasiu said if the office refuses to heed his demand, he will appeal to "international justice." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

MEDIA WATCHDOG SAYS PRESS FREEDOM UNDER THREAT. Romanian media watchdog FreeEx stated in a 4 November report that freedom of the press in Romania is under threat, AP reported. The group said many newspapers and private television stations rely on government assistance and goodwill to survive and that this dependence curbs critical reporting about the government. The group cited the case of the country's largest private television, Pro TV, which allegedly owes the government the equivalent of $50 million in unpaid taxes. FreeEx also noted an increase in the number of attempts by local officials to intimidate journalists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November)

OSCE MEDIA WATCHDOG CONCERNED OVER INCREASED PRESSURE ON MEDIA IN RUSSIA. The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Freimut Duve, expressed his concern over the "recent prevailing climate of pressure on the media in Russia" on 3 November, calling on the Russian Federation Council to reject "highly restrictive" amendments to the Russian media law just passed by the lower house of the parliament. (OSCE, 3 November)

CELLULAR OPERATORS AID SECURITY FORCES IN HOSTAGE CRISIS. Cooperation during the recent hostage crisis between Moscow's main cellular operators and security forces under the aegis of the System for Operational-Investigative Activities (SORM) evoked comment, but little debate, in society and the press. Deputy Interior Minster Vladimir Vasilev announced on 26 October that security forces eavesdropped on mobile-phone conversations during the standoff, "Kommersant" reported on 27 October. "The Moscow Times" reported on 29 October that the signs many mobile users saw on their displays during the crisis indicated that cellular operators switched off encoding to aid law enforcement officials. SORM requires all communications operators to install special equipment at their own expense that allows security forces to monitor traffic. Security forces are not obligated to inform operators that they are listening in, and the legal prerequisites for monitoring are somewhat murky. The issue of surveillance passed largely unnoticed, however. Participants in cellular-focused Internet forums, who are usually "very critical" of cellular operators, "were unfazed by the decision to disable encoding temporarily at the expense of confidentiality," "Vedomosti" reported on 28 October. ("RFE/RL Business Watch," 5 November)

MINISTER EXPLAINS HOSTAGE TAKERS' 'MEDIA PLAN' AND MINISTRY'S ACTIONS DURING CRISIS. In an extensive interview with "Izvestiya" on 31 October, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin assessed the role of the mass media during the recent Moscow hostage drama as "positive." [The deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration, Aleksei Volin, claimed that some media outlets publicly speculated about the type of rescue operations that might be undertaken, the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations noted on 3 November.] Lesin also alleged that the hostage takers "had a worked-out media plan" and studied the Russian media in advance. "They actively manipulated the situation. They really did watch television [during the crisis] and not just one channel, but several," Lesin said. "They selected channels, correspondents, newsmakers according to a previously determined plan." Lesin also said: "I began to control the work of the mass media within 15 minutes after the beginning of the tragedy. I instantly contacted all the television networks and we began to discuss what to do." He said that he held continuous consultations with the heads of national media outlets throughout the 56 hours of the standoff. Deputy Media Minister Seslavinskii, in his interview with, also said that during the crisis, the ministry used "personal interaction between the heads of the ministry and media managers." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

NTV SUBJECTED TO POST-HOSTAGE FALLOUT? Media sources said that NTV's 25 October "Svoboda Slova" program featuring hostages' relatives "irritated the Kremlin," reported the 5 November edition of "The Moscow Times." Although many media critics praised the station's coverage of the crisis, the Kremlin reportedly summoned NTV General Director Boris Jordan for meetings at the Media Ministry and the presidential administration, the paper reported, citing unnamed NTV sources. NTV denied it was under any pressure from the government, according to "The Moscow Times." CC

FSB SEARCHES NEWSPAPER OFFICE... Federal Security Service (FSB) officers on 1 November searched the offices of the weekly newspaper "Versiya" for several hours, Russian news agencies reported. According to TVS, the FSB officers confiscated a server, the computer used by the editor of the national-security desk, and the personal effects of some newspaper staffers. Editor in Chief Rustam Arifdzhanov told TVS that the FSB officers produced a document concerning a criminal case opened in connection with an article published in the newspaper's 27 May edition about the construction of housing on sites formerly used for secret establishments. However, Arifdzhanov claimed all the information in that article came from open sources. He charged that the raid was actually intended to prevent the publication of an issue entirely devoted to the recent hostage crisis in Moscow, as well as to send journalists the message that "times are changing and you have to behave more quietly." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November)

JOURNALIST ORDERED TO PAY COMPENSATION. A Moscow district court on 4 November ordered muckraking journalist Aleksandr Khinshtein to pay 100,000 rubles ($3,333) in compensation for "moral harm" to the former deputy head of Moscow's Interior Ministry, Vasilii Kuptsov, and other Russian news agencies reported. The court found without foundation a story published in "Versiya" in June 2001 that accused Kuptsov of assisting an organized-crime group, accepting bribes, and covering up crimes. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November)

DUMA TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER MEDIA REPORTING ON ANTITERRORISM OPERATIONS... State Duma deputies on 1 November passed in their third and final reading amendments to the laws on the mass media and on combating terrorism, Russian news agencies reported. If adopted into law, the amendments will make it illegal to publicize any information about technical methods and tactics used during antiterrorism operations, reported. They also ban the publication, broadcast, or posting on the Internet of any "propaganda or justification" of extremism. They forbid the publication of personal information about security-forces personnel or anyone assisting them in conducting antiterrorism operations. Finally, the amendments would outlaw the publication of information about building weapons or explosive devices. The amendments needed 226 votes to pass and received 231, with 106 deputies voting against. They were supported by the Unity faction, Fatherland-All Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), People's Deputy, Russian Regions, and the Communist Party. Deputies from the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) and Yabloko either opposed the amendments or abstained from voting. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

...AS SOME THINK THE MEASURES ARE TOO HARSH. Liberal Russia co-Chairman Sergei Yushenkov said on 1 November that the amendments will hinder "responsible journalists" and give a "green light" to those who are merely "re-broadcasters for the authorities," reported. Likewise, Deputy Boris Reznik (Russian Regions), who is deputy chairman of the Duma's Information Policy Committee, said the amendments are "bad for society" and urged deputies to return them to the stage of first reading. Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii told before the Duma vote that he does not consider the amendments necessary and that his ministry is ready to defend the media from calls for stricter control. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

RSF REFERS NEW ANTITERRORISM LAW TO UN. Reporters Without Borders said on 4 November that it is "greatly concerned" about Russia's new antiterrorism law, which includes a sharp reduction of press freedom. Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Menard asked the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo, and the president of the Council of Europe's ministerial committee, Lydie Polfer, to stress to the Russian government that the new law, passed by the Duma on 1 November, violates international press-freedom standards. (Reporters Without Borders, 4 November)

MEDIA MINISTRY UNVEILS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COVERING CRISES... The Media Ministry on 4 November released 16 recommendations for media covering situations in which people's lives are threatened, RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. In addition to a general reminder to observe the laws on the mass media and on terrorism, the ministry's recommendations call on journalists not to initiate interviews with terrorists, offer terrorists live air time without consulting law-enforcement agencies, publicize details about rescue operations, transmit unconfirmed information, nor serve as intermediaries. The Media Ministry recommends that journalists not seek access to secret information from the special services. "Saving lives is more important than society's right to information," the recommendations state. The document was posted on the ministry's website at ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November)

...BUT WHAT IS STATUS OF 'RECOMMENDATIONS'... Officially, the Media Ministry's recommendations are described as a draft for discussion by the Media Industrial Committee that was set up as a lobbying group by media bosses in September, "The Moscow Times" reported on the 5 November. The Media Ministry reportedly wants this committee -- chaired by Konstantin Ernst, general director of Russian Public Television (ORT) -- to take responsibility for self-regulation and to discuss these recommendations at its mid-November meeting, reported on 5 November. According to Mikhail Fedotov, a lawyer and secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, the Media Industrial Committee is a business lobby group and not a journalists union -- and thus is an inappropriate venue for discussing the draft recommendations. Furthermore, a year ago the Union of Journalists drew up its own ethical principles for journalists covering terrorist acts and antiterrorism operations. The Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations observed that journalists have shown "little interest" in the code of ethics on covering terrorism. on 5 November also pointed to numerous inconsistencies in the recommendations. Is the Media Ministry authorized to issue official warnings to media outlets found in violation of its provisions? Who would rule on whether media outlets had infringed security considerations? Who is authorized to switch off offending coverage, such as broadcast interviews with alleged terrorists? CC

...AND HOW DO JOURNALISTS ASSESS THEM? Fedotov said in "The Moscow Times" of 5 November that if reporters follow "quite reasonable ideas" in the recommendations, "they will be told they are bowing to government pressure." And if they "bow to government pressure, [journalists] will not be trusted." The paper reported the same day that "Versiya" Editor Rustam Arifdzhanov agreed that details of antiterrorist actions probably should not be revealed during these operations, but he rejected the notion that afterward the press cannot discuss or criticize such operations. Arifzhanov said, "Special forces exist not for the sake of special forces, but for the sake of society, and it is [journalists'] duty to discuss their performance." He also stressed that a clear distinction should be made between hostage crises and the war in Chechnya, also officially labeled an antiterrorist operation, where it was "absolutely unacceptable" to apply the recommendations. On 5 November, "Kommersant" conducted a poll of some leading Russian editors who expressed a wide range of opinion. Vladimir Sungorkin, editor in chief of the paper "Komsomolskaya pravda," noted dryly that the views of "the teachers [the ministry]" and the "students [journalists] are rather similar. Tatyana Lysova, editor of "Vedomosti," observed, "A journalist may know nothing about special operations, but what do special services know about journalism?" The editor in chief of the paper "Novaya gazeta," Dmitrii Muratov, said he will not "follow recommendations of a small and unconstitutional structure." CC

IFJ: JOURNALISTS DO NOT NEED LECTURES FROM POLITICIANS. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world's largest journalists' organization, on 5 November condemned the government guidelines for media (see items above), which it warns amount to interference with media coverage of Chechen militants. "The government should keep its hands out of the newsroom," said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. "Media and journalists are only too well aware of the horrifying consequences of terrorism, and they don't need lectures from politicians about how to tailor their coverage to suit the public interest." CC

NEWS VACUUM SAID TO 'PERPETUATE CHECHEN WAR.' Moscow journalist Masha Gessen, writing in the 1 November issue of "The New York Times," noted that during the first Chechen war that began in 1994, hundreds of Russian journalists risked their lives to "cover atrocities" on both sides of the conflict. In contrast, after the Kremlin pressured the media "to stop publishing or broadcasting anything but official reports," "all national TV stations" and the "overwhelming majority" of publications have obeyed, Gessen wrote. As a result, Gessen noted, "Young people [in Russia] have never seen anything but victorious and hate-filled reports from the military, relayed uncritically by the press." CC

FOREIGN JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM VISITING CHECHNYA? A little-noticed government directive signed on 11 October has made it much more difficult for foreign journalists to visit Chechnya, according to Oleg Panfilov, director of the watchdog Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, writing in the 5 November edition of "Nezavisimaya gazeta." The directive approves a list of territories, organizations, and establishments that foreign citizens need special permission to enter, including "zones where antiterrorist operations are being conducted." Panfilov noted that the directive does not specify how foreign journalists can obtain the necessary permission to enter Chechnya nor for what period of time it would be issued. Panfilov also quoted the center's legal expert Boris Panteleev as saying Russia's law on terrorism does not include any formal bureaucratic procedure for granting permission to enter such zones. Under Russia's constitution, "sub-legal acts" like presidential decrees and government directives may not contradict existing legislation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

NEW BROADCAST LAW IN THE WORKS. Speaking at the Sixth Congress of the National Associations of Television and Radio Broadcasters, First Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii said new legislation on broadcast licensing, particularly for digital television, needs to be drafted. New procedures should include provisions for longer licenses, the composition of the Federal Tender Commission, and a method for collection of lump payments for broadcasting. The bill should be presented to the State Duma within two months, the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations reported on 3 November. CC

PATRIARCH PRAISES PROGRAM DEEMED ANTI-SEMITIC BY JEWISH GROUP. Aleksei II, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, has sent a congratulatory letter to the producers of the television show "Russian House" in commemoration of its 10th anniversary, the Blagovest news agency reported on 16 October. During its 10 years of broadcasts, the show has featured virulently anti-Semitic material and conducted interviews with extremist elements within the Russian Orthodox Church, according to the Union of Councils of Soviet Jewry. Archimandrite Tikhon of the Sretenskii Monastery, who is said to have links to anti-Semitic groups, sits on the program's editorial board. Representatives of the neo-nazi group Russian National Unity and the Black Hundreds have been guests on the show. (Union of Councils of Soviet Jewry, 4 November)

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ANGRY OVER 'PEDANTIC' U.S. LEGISLATION. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 4 November assailed what it labeled the "pedantic'' tone of new legislation in the United States aimed at bolstering civil society and independent media in Russia, AP reported on 4 November. "Russian Democracy Act of 2002" authorizes over $50 million for programs such as investigative-journalism training. President George W. Bush signed the act on 23 October. CC

ADVERTISING MARKET SURPASSES PRE-CRISIS LEVELS. Russia's advertising market will grow by more than 50 percent this year and significantly exceed the spending levels seen before the 1998 economic crisis, "The Moscow Times" reported on 1 November, citing the Russian Association of Advertising Agencies (RARA). Total advertising spending for this year is projected to reach $2.64 billion, compared to $1.73 billion last year and $1.8 billion in 1998. Television advertising is pegged to grow by 83 percent over last year to $880 million, while newspaper advertising will grow by 26 percent to $380 million. RARA President Vladimir Yevstavev predicted the market will reach $4 billion in 2003. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

ANEM PROTESTS PRESSURE ON VOJVODINA RADIO. The Association of Independent Electronic Broadcasters (ANEM) on 31 October protested the use of anonymous letters to pressure media outlets. Radio 021 in Novi Sad has said an anonymous letter was allegedly sent by eight of the station's journalists who claim they fear dismissal if their identity is made known. ("ANEM Media Update," 26 October-1 November)

THREE REPORTERS FORCIBLY DRAFTED, WHILE EDITOR RECEIVES DEATH THREAT AFTER REPORT ON ARMY. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on 7 November denounced the forcible conscription of three TV journalists -- Akram Azizov (21), Nasim Rahimov (20), and Yusuf Yunosov (21) -- who were critical of the army in a 24 October program on television station SM1. RSF also "deplored the army's threats to kill the director of SM1." The three young conscripts were among nine journalists arrested by military police on 28 October while attending a journalism-training course in the northern city of Khujand. Six who were exempt from doing military service were released, but the others were sent to the Khujand army base. Four days earlier, SMI had broadcast a documentary made during the training course about army squads that track down young people to conscript them using violence and rejecting medical certificates justifying exemption. A senior regional army officer, Fazliddin Domonov, who denied during the film that such methods were used, reportedly threatened the journalists the day after the program was aired. On 5 November, RSF reported, SM1 Director Mahmujan Dadabaev received telephone calls apparently from army officials threatening to kill him and shut down the TV station. (Reporters Without Borders, 7 November)

MYSTERIOUS CASE OF MISSING DIRECTOR OF INDEPENDENT NEWS AGENCY. RSF and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have expressed concern about the disappearance of Ukrainian journalist Mykhaylo Kolomiyets, the director of the Ukrayinski Novyny news agency who has been missing since 21 October. RSF suggested that police should not rule out the possibility that his disappearance is linked to his work as a journalist, while the IFJ is concerned that Ukrainian authorities have not solved the case. Kolomiyets, 44, has been a journalist since 1991 and in 1997 established the news agency Ukrayinski Novyny that specializes in economic news. Kolomiyets owns half the shares in the news agency; the rest are owned by the Agency for Humanitarian Technologies, run by Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy, who is close to President Leonid Kuchma. On 28 October, Ukrayinski Novyny disclosed the disappearance of Kolomiyets and claimed there was a possible link to his professional activities, since the news agency sometimes carries reports critical of the Ukrainian government. The police say Kolomiyets traveled from Ukraine to Belarus on 22 October and that on 28 October he contacted friends and family by telephone. According to police, Kolomiyets said he left Ukraine with a plan to commit suicide. Yet according to the RSF, his family says that in his phone calls Kolomiyets did not say he wanted to kill himself and was not depressed. His mother also denied police claims that she has been in "regular" contact with her son since his disappearance. CC

JOURNALISTS' STRIKE COMMITTEE LEADER ASSAULTED IN KYIV. Danylo Yanevskiy, a prominent television journalist and leader of the Journalists' Strike Committee formed on 5 October, was assaulted on 6 November at about 11:00 p.m. in the Kyiv Metro, RFE/RL Ukrainian Service reported the following day. According to Professor Marta Dyczok, who is a Ukrainian media specialist at the University of Western Ontaria and a friend of the family, Yanevskiy was accosted by three men and one woman in their 20s as he got off the train in the city center. They grabbed Yanevskiy by the collar, swearing at him, then sent him to the ground with a punch to the jaw. Before police arrived, the attackers jumped onto another subway train and disappeared. Yanevskiy was not seriously hurt and could not say whether the attack was politically motivated or not. In the early 1990s, Yanevskiy was president of The Media Club, an earlier effort to unite journalists in a professional association. He recently left Channel 1+1 and is the former head of the Kyiv office of RFE/RL. CC

GOVERNMENT ACCUSES JOURNALISTS OF PRESSURE THROUGH ARTICLES ON FOREIGN POLICY. The state Information Policy, Television, and Radio Broadcasting Committee issued a statement on 28 October accusing some journalists of "pressuring Ukraine through publications on major foreign policy issues." ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 28 October-2 November)

LVIV MOVES AGAINST WEBSITE FOR REPORT ON CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST PRESIDENT KUCHMA. The Lviv Oblast branch of the Interior Ministry ordered the Internet publication "Antiterror" to remove a report on the initiation of a criminal case against Ukrainian President Kuchma. On 26 October, the site's editor, Irena Tershak, received an order dated 16 October that she had been fired from her job. Two days later, unidentified individuals searched the publication's editorial offices and seized all its computer hardware. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Weekly Report," 28 October-2 November)


By Kathleen Knox

Russia has moved to tighten restrictions on the press following the 23-26 October hostage crisis in Moscow. Under the new rules, media cannot distribute information that hinders or reveals too much about counterterrorist operations. The Media Ministry wants to go further, barring journalists from seeking interviews with terrorists or from allowing them to broadcast live.

This sort of thing couldn't happen in the West, where press freedoms have a longer tradition, right? Well, not quite. Take the United Kingdom, for example. In the 1980s and 1990s, in a doomed effort to cut off the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) "oxygen of publicity," the government introduced a broadcasting ban on interviews with not only paramilitary organizations banned in Northern Ireland but also their political wings.

It was Margaret Thatcher, then-British prime minister, who famously said countries should "starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend."

In the mid-1980s, deadly bombings by the IRA were common both in Northern Ireland and in mainland Britain. Thatcher herself survived an IRA bombing at her Conservative Party's annual conference in the English coastal town of Brighton.

In 1988, Thatcher's home secretary, Douglas Hurd, wrote to the main broadcasting authorities to "request" that they refrain from airing interviews with members of 11 organizations.

The list included the IRA and other groups that were fighting British rule in Northern Ireland and seeking to unite the province with the Republic of Ireland. Loyalist paramilitaries, militant in their quest to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, were on the list too.

But most controversially, the political wings of those organizations, notably the IRA's Sinn Fein, a legal political party with elected officials, were also listed.

Bob Franklin is a journalism professor at Sheffield University in the United Kingdom. He said Hurd's "request" was legally enforceable without any new legislation. "No one was in any doubt that this was an invitation to tea and cakes with the home secretary. This was a legally binding, enforceable obligation that journalists, if they breached it, would be breaching the law of the land and would be subject to certain comebacks on that, up to and including, I suspect, imprisonment," Franklin said.

Britain is not alone in trying to rein in broadcast media as a way of denying terrorists publicity. In the United States, following the 11 September attacks, the five big television networks agreed to review videotapes of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before airing excerpts. But, though they were undeniably under pressure from the U.S. administration, this was a voluntary decision, unlike the British ban of 1988.

The result of Britain's ban was instant, and, critics said, absurd.

Broadcasters could show pictures of Sinn Fein members being interviewed but not broadcast their voices. At first, subtitles were introduced. But broadcasters soon switched to dubbing.

The result was a whole cottage industry of actors employed to dub the voices of Sinn Fein leaders and synchronize the words to the on-screen images.

The ban also meant Sinn Fein could still speak on social and other issues, as long as it avoided politics. This ended up being counterproductive, as Rohan Jayasekera of Index on Censorship, a monitoring group, explained. "As [then-BBC Director-General] John Birt pointed out when he looked at the local broadcasts of the BBC in Northern Ireland, it made Sinn Fein look like social workers, because they never ever talked about politics, they only ever talked about schools and drains," Jayasekera said.

The ban also made it sound rather hollow if British journalists tried to promote freedom of speech in repressive countries, as one prominent British journalist found when he interviewed Libya's Muammar Ghadaffi. Jayasekera said: "Like good journalists should do when confronted with someone like that, [he] put the penny's worth in for freedom of expression and freedom of speech. And, of course, Ghadaffi turned round and said: 'Look what you're doing to Sinn Fein. They were not a banned party, they were not illegal, they had councilors and political representatives, there was no question of banning them, so why were they being censored in this way?'"

By the mid-1990s, Northern Ireland was also becoming a hotter political issue, with the first tentative talks that would eventually lead to the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and a devolved government for the province. If journalists could not freely quote Sinn Fein, how could they report on the emerging political debate?

The ban was scrapped in 1994, and broadcasters can now interview members of paramilitary organizations, though the IRA does not give them.

The 1988 ban came at a time of poor relations between government and media in Britain: Thatcher's conservative government routinely criticized the BBC for alleged left-wing bias, and one politician famously called it "the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation."

Sheffield University's Franklin said home secretaries have made similar requests on some five other occasions of acute civil unrest in the last century, such as the 1926 general strike.

Nowadays, government-media relations are much improved since 1988, Franklin said, but the laws are still in place that would allow a future home secretary to impose restrictions.

Kathleen Knox is a Prague-based RFE/RL reporter.