20 April 2001, Volume
MONTHLY MEDIA NEWSLETTER ISSUED.
The European Institute for the Media (EIM) released the March issue of its newsletter covering media developments in 12 countries of the former Soviet Union on 18 April. By sending an email to Ljudmila von Berg, EIM program administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, one can receive a Russian-language version of the bulletin. (European Institute for the Media, 18 April)
ONLINE MEDIA RESOURCES.
"Media Digest": http://www.digest-azerbaijan.com; "Echo" newspaper: http://www.echo-az.com; "Zerkalo" newspaper: http://www.zerkalo.az; Alpha news agency and "Daily News" newspaper: http://www.inteko.net/DailyRus; http://www.alpha.baku.az.com; "Avropa" newspaper: http://avropa.cjb.net; "Bakinsky Rabochy" newspaper: http://www.br.az; "Bizim Esr" newspaper: http://bizimasr.media-az.com; "Our Century" newspaper: http://ourcentury.media-az.com/; "Yeni Musavat" newspaper: http://www.musavat.com.MORE PROTESTING RADIO JOURNALISTS FORCED OUT.
On 13 April, the International Federation of Journalists condemned the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) management, which has continued to fire protesting journalists even though the Supreme Court has backed their protests against the managing director. Journalists at the radio station have been protesting since 6 February against the appointment of Ivan Borislavov as the new managing director. They celebrated a legal victory on 5 April when the Supreme Court said his appointment was illegal, calling into question Borislavov's management changes. The BNR Management Board then fired six protesters on 10 April, for a total of 19 sackings since the protests began and brought in replacement journalists employed by "Demokratsia," a daily recently owned by the ruling Union of Democratic Forces. Parliamentary elections are due 17 June. For more, see http://www.ifj.org/working/issues/broadcasting/broadcasting.html. (International Federation of Journalists, 13 April)
TV CHIEF CHARGED WITH CREDIT FRAUD.
Vladimir Zelezny, controversial general director of private Nova TV, the most popular Czech TV station, was charged on 12 April with damaging a creditor and also had his 12 percent stake in CET 21, the license holder for Nova TV, frozen by a Prague court due to accusations of tax evasion, CTK reported. The credit fraud charges are related to legal disputes that forced Zelezny to pay a former partner, U.S. millionaire Ronald Lauder's CME, $27 million. A state financial office has accused Zelezny of owing up to 50 million crowns ($1.3 million) in taxes since 1997 in connection with the import of paintings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April)PRAGUE COURT REJECTS NOVA DIRECTOR'S COUNTERSUIT.
The Prague City Court rejected a complaint on 11 April by Vladimir Zelezny, the embattled general director of popular private Nova TV, against Nova's former service provider, CNTS, and its media representative, CTK reported on 16 April. The court rejected Zelezny's demand that CNTS stop publishing statements he made on his "Call the Director" program and pay him 1 million crowns ($25,700) in damages. Zelezny was ordered to pay $27 million to CNTS owner and former partner Ronald Lauder by an international arbitrator and currently faces charges in the Czech Republic of tax evasion and damaging a creditor. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)NEW MEDIA LAW?
"The Prague Post" reported that the Chamber of Deputies has passed a new media bill that would allow private radio and TV broadcasters to extend their licenses for 12 years. The lower house's decision has given rise to criticism that the government is favoring private broadcasters, such as TV Nova and Prima. The measure must still be approved by the Senate and signed by President Vaclav Havel before it becomes law. ("The Prague Post," 18-24 April)
GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DOWNPLAYS CONTROVERSIAL 'WASHINGTON POST' COVERAGE.
President Shevardnadze on 18 April attributed the criticism of him in the "Washington Post" by Georgian parliament Committee for Economic Policy Chairman Vano Merabishvili to the latter's youth and inexperience, Caucasus Press reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)
PARLIAMENT PASSES STRICT MEDIA LAW.
The Kazakhstan Senate on 17 April approved a draft media law that imposes strict limits on the retransmission of foreign programs in the republic and will also make Internet sites subject to the same controls as print media, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 17 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)OPPOSITION PAPER RESUMES PUBLICATION.
The opposition newspaper "SolDat" resumed publication on 12 April after an eight-month interval, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April)
OPPOSITION PAPER WARNED.
A Bishkek court has directed the opposition newspaper "Asaba" to pay the $30,000 judgment that was made against it for slandering a parliamentary deputy, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 17 April. The paper has not paid the fine because it was not formally notified of the judgment until two days ago. It now plans to appeal. The paper has not appeared since 6 March because of a court judgment against it in another case. Meanwhile, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported, the editor of the "Kyrgyz Rukhu" independent weekly, Beken Nazaraliev, said that he was beaten the day before. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)REPEAL OF LIBEL LAWS URGED.
The Kyrgyz parliament is currently considering the repeal of the republic's criminal libel statutes. A parliamentary committee recently circulated draft legislation to exclude articles 127 and 128 (for libel and insult respectively) from the Criminal Code. On 4 April, committee chairman Azimbek Beknazarov told local reporters that the draft law was ready, but that the Justice Ministry, the Prosecutor-General's Office, and the Supreme Court felt it was "too early" to repeal the laws. "Most libel cases against Kyrgyz journalists are under civil law, but the threat of criminal proceedings is by no means an idle one." (Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 April)OPPOSITION SLAMS GOVERNMENT MEDIA.
In a statement released on 18 April, leaders of eight opposition parties condemned what they termed the wholly negative coverage by state-controlled media of the demonstration convened by the opposition on 13 April in Bishkek, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Also on 18 April, the head of the Pervomai district police informed three of the meeting's organizers that they have been charged with organizing an unsanctioned public meeting. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)
PRESIDENT SAYS LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS FOR MEDIA MAY CHANGE.
Vaira Vike-Freiberga told a press and business club meeting organized by the magazine "Karjera" that current provisions requiring media to use Latvian for at least 75 percent of their broadcasts are aimed at strengthening the position of the state language, but that "laws governing the language use in media are not everlasting and it is quite possible that the provisions will change in a couple of years," BNS reported on 14 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)
YU-INFO TV APPLIES FOR LICENSES.
Yugoslav TV station YU-Info applied to the Montenegrin Telecommunications Ministry on 7 April for a work permit and a broadcast frequency in the republic, the Montenegrin Minister of the Economy announced. "A decision will soon be reached," an aide to the Montenegrin Minister of Economy said. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 7-13 April)
A BLEAK FUTURE MEDIA LANDSCAPE?
An article in Kremlin-friendly strana.ru, "Information space re-division hits both TV channels and newspapers," posits further shutdowns of Russia's major media outlets. Its author Nikolai Ulyanov notes that Gusinsky may not control Ekho Moskvy "for long" since he must "repay Gazprom a credit worth $262 million before July 2001." "Closure or sale reportedly threaten "Nezavisimaya gazeta," "Obshchaya gazeta" and "Vremya MN." (strana.ru, 18 April)WILL EKHO MOSKVY BE NEXT?
Aleksei Venediktov, the chief editor of the radio station Ekho Moskvy, told Interfax on 17 April that it is entirely possible that his station will suffer the same fate as NTV, "Segodnya," and "Itogi." He said that such a possibility is even more likely when Media-MOST's payments on a major loan from Gazprom are due. Media-MOST owns 38 percent of the shares in Ekho Moskvy, while Gazprom controls 25 percent. If Gazprom does take control, Venediktov told Reuters, "we will not work" for the gas giant, rather "the team will break up and go." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)MOSCOW MEDIA IMBROGLIO CONTINUES.
During part of 18 April, NTV, TV-6, and TNT were not broadcast in Moscow, but officials said the networks were down for servicing, Interfax reported. New NTV head Boris Jordan said in an interview in the "Wall Street Journal" on 18 April that the station is facing bankruptcy and must be put on a sound financial basis to continue operations. Dmitrii Biryukov, head of Sem dnei publishing house that is part of the Media-MOST group, said Gazprom-Media did not put pressure on him to stop financing the "Segodnya" newspaper, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, All-Russia State Radio and TV head Oleg Dobrodeev said in an interview published in "Argumenty i fakty" on 18 April that the Russian government does not plan to increase its presence in the Russian TV market. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)CONFLICT SPREADS TO TV-6.
Three senior officers of Russia's TV-6 announced their resignations on 18 April after station owner Boris Berezovsky allowed journalists who were dismissed or resigned from NTV, "Segodnya," and "Itogi" to come to work there, Russian and Western agencies reported. The U.S. news magazine "Newsweek" said it has ended cooperation with the new "Itogi" under its new management, but expressed interest in continuing cooperation with fired Editor Sergei Parkhomenko, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)CONSEQUENCES OF MEDIA MOVES ASSESSED.
"Segodnya" journalist Mikhail Berger said in an article published in "Novye Izvestiya" on 18 April that the moves against NTV and the other outlets mean that Russia is "already living in a quasi-Soviet one-party state." Commentator Aleksandr Arkhangelskii said in an article in "Izvestiya" the same day that "a major historical cycle has ended -- exactly 10 years of the new kind of television." But Duma Deputy Chairman and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky welcomed all the changes, Interfax reported on 17 April. He said that "it's a good thing they are closing down NTV. Other channels should be closed as well, you are all offspring of the American CIA." Zhirinovsky concluded that "we do not need democracy, democracy will ruin the country." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)GERMANY JOINS U.S. IN CRITICIZING ATTACKS ON MEDIA.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said on 18 April that Berlin is concerned by "the takeover of the television channel NTV, the closure of the daily newspaper "Segodnya" and the weekly magazine "Itogi,"" Reuters reported. "Russia needs independent and also critical voices for its democratic development," he said. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the same day that Russian gains since the end of communism have been "put in jeopardy by the actions" the Russian government has taken, AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)SPANISH COURT REFUSES TO EXTRADITE GUSINSKY.
By a vote of two to one, a Spanish court refused to extradite Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky to Russia to face charges of fraud, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 April. His supporters said this represents his vindication, while his opponents noted that even the Spanish authorities will likely appeal the verdict. Meanwhile, in an interview published on the same day in Geneva's "Le Temps" newspaper, Gusinsky lashed out at Western governments for failing to take note of what he called President Putin's "authoritarian drift." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)DORENKO ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL.
Television journalist Sergei Dorenko was admitted to a Moscow hospital on 18 April for what ITAR-TASS described as a cranio-cerebral injury. Dorenko's relatives said he was beaten following a collision he had with a naval officer while riding his motorcycle. Russian officials have charged Dorenko with intentional infliction of bodily harm, but he said he is being framed by the authorities. Meanwhile, Viktor Tyukin, an office manager for the People's Deputy faction in the Duma, was hospitalized this week for wounds he received when two men attacked him with knives in western Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)MOLOTOV COCKTAIL THROWN AT PUBLISHER'S CAR.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) protested a 13 April attack against Dimitri Biryukov, director of Sem dnei, the publishing house owned by the Media-MOST group. According to the RSF, on 13 April 2001, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Biryukov's vehicle. He was not injured. (Reporters without Borders, 17 April)'SEGODNYA' CEASES PUBLICATION.
"Segodnya," the daily paper that was one of the flagships of Gusinsky's Media-MOST holding company, will no longer be appearing, Interfax-Moscow reported on 16 April. The paper's journalists had prepared an issue for that date but it was not printed, the news agency said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)'ITOGI' EDITOR FIRED, STAFF LEAVES.
The Sem dnei publishing house, which is part of the Media-MOST group, on 17 April fired Sergei Parkhomenko, editor in chief of the weekly news magazine "Itogi," Russian and western agencies reported. Most of the rest of the staff departed with him, agencies reported. Parkhomenko told AP that the move against him was the logical next step of the move against NTV: "Now I think the situation will move much more quickly to a resolution because the light has gone out and, in the dark, those who want to get rid of us can feel much more free." Parkhomenko said that he will attempt to set up another weekly under another name. The U.S. magazine "Newsweek," which owns a share in the "Itogi" operation, described the moves against Parkhomenko and other staff members as "serious and disturbing," Reuters reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)MEDIA-MOST PLEDGES TO CONTINUE TO OPERATE.
In a statement released by its press service on 17 April, Gusinsky's Media-MOST said that it will continue to operate despite government and nongovernmental pressures against it, Interfax reported. The statement said that "Media-MOST, together with the journalists who have been forced to leave their workplaces, will defend their rights and the right of their viewers, readers, and listeners by all lawful means. We will find the means to continue our work" unless and until a "harsh dictatorship is set up in Russia." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)MOSCOW REPORTEDLY WORRIED ABOUT FUTURE EU TV BROADCASTS.
Media Minister Mikhail Lesin, Communications Minister Leonid Reiman, and presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii concluded a working visit to Kaliningrad on 17 April. The official purpose of the trip was to see what information the Russian Baltic exclave's population is receiving in the run-up to the upcoming EU expansion, according to Interfax. However, "Kommersant-Daily" on 17 April suggested that "Moscow is planning on fighting the influence of the West in the region." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)LACK OF NEWSPRINT LEADING TO LACK OF NEWSPAPERS.
A lack of paper has stopped the publication of 13 newspapers in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 18 April. Local journalists blame the newsprint deficit on the management of the local printing house. Management, however, blames the recent typhoon in Sakhalin, where the supplier is located. Last month, television broadcasts on channel 1 in Komsomolsk-na-Amure and several other cities in Khabarovsk Krai went off the air because of the local television station's unpaid debts to electricity suppliers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April)STAVROPOL NEWPAPER OFFICE ATTACKED.
During the night of 6 April, a group of armed men rushed into the editorial office of the newspaper "Moskovskiy Komsomolets � Caucasus." The staff of the Snow Leopard security firm, which has its headquarters near the paper�s editorial office, decided to add to its own office space by seizing the "MK- Caucasus" office. Several days later, the security firm returned the premises to the editorial office, without waiting for a court decision. It turned out that the security firm was already repeatedly closed for numerous infringements of the law. Nevertheless, the newspaper's staff assumes that local officials, dissatisfied with "MK- Caucasus," may also have been involved in the attack. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 16 April)SAMARA JOURNALISTS PROTEST POSSIBLE STATE MEDIA SUPPORT.
The representatives of the Samara branch of the Union of Journalists of Russian Federation, and the editors in chief of the newspapers "Budni," "Samarskaya gazeta" and "Novaya gazeta" criticized a bill prepared in Samara Oblast "On state support of mass media." The journalists believe that "the administration bill was drawn up without the participation of media representatives." Moreover, the press service of the regional Duma had earlier even denied the existence of this bill, when suddenly a prepared draft appeared, and the time for its consideration announced. The journalists believe that the bill will make it possible for the authorities to influence the media, since only those who support the authorities can receive grants from the regional budget. "The Union of Journalists is against such a system and believes there should be a completely different way based on the similar federal law" and that "assistance should be absolutely equal for all media and should be done through tax privileges." ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 16 April)MILITIA CAPTAIN THREATENS JOURNALIST WITH PISTOL.
On 15 April, Captain Dmitry Urvantsev beat "Izvestiya" press photographer Konstantin Zavrazhin and confiscated his camera in Moscow. Then the officer took out his pistol and pointed it at the journalist. Luckily some other militiamen who appeared nearby intervened. They managed to disarm Urvantsev and returned to Konstantin Zavrazhin his camera. Captain Urvantsev had earlier beaten TNT cameraman Nikita Anisimov. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 16 April)CULTURE MINISTER CALLS FOR REVIVAL OF FILM INDUSTRY.
Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi on 11 April called for modernizing the country's 1,560 movie theaters, only 80 of which now meet modern standards, and for reversing the precipitous decline in the number of movies produced domestically, AFP reported, citing "Vedomosti." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April)RENEWED PROPAGANDA, COUNTERPROPAGANDA EFFORT URGED.
In an article published in the 13 April "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Leonid Slutskii, the deputy chairman of the Duma Foreign Relations Committee (Liberal Democratic Party), argued that Russia made a fundamental mistake when it reduced its international propaganda effort after the end of the Cold War. It was "naive" to think that the rest of the world would do the same, Slutskii continued. He said that "Russia needs to revive its own media to defend itself against" what he called "ideological aggression" from abroad. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)
CANDIDATES FOR STATE BROADCAST MANAGER.
Yugoslav Interior Ministry advisor and Democratic Party official Goran Vesic is being considered for the post of Radio Television Serbia (RTS) general manager, "Glas javnosti" reported 11 April. Other candidates include Reformists' Party of Vojvodina President Miodrag Isakov, and RTS regional broadcast editor Milos Tanaskovic, the daily added. The post will remain open until the end of April. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 7-13 April)FREE RADIO/OTPOR MEMBERS DETAINED.
Eight Otpor activists from Bela Palanka, taken to prison on 10 April, were released after they asked that their hearing be postponed for 24 hours, Radio B92 reported. The court issued an arrest warrant after the local Socialist Party of Serbia filed a complaint. The activists all belong to the Free Radio/Otpor organization that took over the local Radio Bela Palanka on 17 November and broadcast a program popular with Bela Palanka residents. One of the arrested activists, Milan Jovanovic, told B92 that the court has not yet made any statement. "We asked for a postponement so that we could find lawyers," he added. He described the arrest as politically motivated and that the local socialists were trying to close down Radio-Otpor, when the Serbian government intended to put in place an interim administration in the Bela Palanka municipality. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 7-13 April)PROPOSED INFORMATION LAW HAS 'SOME GOOD POINTS.'
The proposed Law on Information, prepared by the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia with other professional media organizations, had some good points, Yugoslav Information Minister Slobodan Orlic told the press on 11 April. However, Orlic added, the question was whether there was the need for such a law, and if so in such a form. If a Law on Information were to be introduced after the events and sacrifices of the past ten years, Orlic argued, then it ought to be called a Law on the Freedom of the Media and the Press. "After experiencing how some media have covered events in the past ten years while being financed by direct theft from the residents of Serbia, I believe we should restrict certain journalists' rights to work, at least in media financed by the Republic of Serbia," Orlic said. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 7-13 April)JOURNALISTS AND PRESS FREEDOM.
Journalists must continue to fight for freedom of the press under new social circumstances, President Kostunica's media advisor, Aleksandar Tijanic, told journalists at the Alternative Civil Parliament session on 10 April. The new government exerts control over the media too, Tijanic asserted. "There will be no freedom for the Serbian media if they expect it to come from the top positions of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. Milosevic did not let Serbian media function freely, and the DOS coalition will not do this, nor will the next government. Nobody likes to be railed at, or to be portrayed as bad in the articles. There is no government that likes that. Serbian journalists will either fight for the freedom of the media themselves, with all the risks that accompany such strife, or there will be no media at all. For the time being, I am very skeptical that they will succeed in achieving it, and I maintain that many leaders from the DOS exert control over the majority of Serbian media," Tijanic said. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 7-13 April)
GONGADZE'S WIFE HOLDS PRESIDENT RESPONSIBLE FOR JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE.
Myroslava Gongadze said on 17 April that until investigators find the people responsible for the disappearance and presumed murder of her husband she will hold President Leonid Kuchma guilty, Reuters reported. Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw, Gongadze said: "If the people who have been accused -- the president and his entourage -- had wanted, then I think this investigation would have been more effective." Gongadze said prosecutors are still denying her access to information about the beheaded corpse that was found in November, which many believe to be her husband's. She said that she has not yet decided whether or not to accept political asylum in the U.S., and added that she strongly supports Premier Viktor Yushchenko. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)U.S. GRANTS ASYLUM TO FORMER KUCHMA BODYGUARD, MISSING JOURNALIST'S FAMILY...
The U.S. State Department confirmed on 16 April that Washington has granted political asylum to Mykola Melnychenko, the former bodyguard of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and the wife and two daughters of the missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Reuters reported. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the decision to grant asylum was based on "standard international practice," and did not signal a change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Melnychenko has been in hiding in Europe since releasing audio tapes he says he recorded in the president's office that link Kuchma to Gongadze's disappearance. Kuchma has called Melnychenko a "traitor and a spy" and claims the tapes are forged. A headless corpse found outside Kyiv was initially reported, after testing, to be Gongadze's, though a later test performed outside of Ukraine said the tested tissue samples were not the journalist's. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)...AS KYIV IN 'AMAZEMENT' OVER ACTION.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv Carlos Pascual on 14 April to demand an explanation for the granting of asylum and to express its "deep amazement regarding the decision," AP reported. The Prosecutor-General's Office said that Melnychenko has been charged with libel and forgery and that the decision to grant him asylum "ran counter to the spirit of Ukrainian-U.S. partnership." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)PROSECUTOR SAYS MELNYCHENKO'S TAPES INCLUDE STATE SECRET.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Oleksiy Bahanets said on 12 April that recordings made by Mykola Melnychenko, a former presidential bodyguard, include a state secret, Interfax reported. "A part of these recordings includes a state secret, while another part deals with confidential information that cannot be publicized," Bahanets told journalists. It is not clear whether Bahanets' statement is tantamount to an official acknowledgment that the Melnychenko tapes are authentic. Bahanets added that the tapes will now be subjected to a "phonoscopic analysis." The Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska pravda" suggested that experts will now be trying to find whether Melnychenko doctored the tape to include a state secret on it or whether this secret was revealed by Kuchma or one of his interlocutors. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April)KUCHMA STEPS IN TO SAVE OPPOSITION RADIO?
The German press agency dpa reported on 13 April that President Kuchma instructed the National Council for Television and Radio to make a second review of the debts of Kyiv's Radio Kontinent before rescinding its broadcasting frequency. Earlier in the day, Mykyta Poturaev, the deputy head of the council, declared that Radio Kontinent's frequency would be given to another station because the station has failed to repay a 400,000 hryvni (approximately $300,000 at the time) credit it received from a state bank in 1996. Radio Kontinent Director Serhiy Sholokh said his station will appeal the decision, which he said is politically motivated. The independent Radio Kontinent has original music programs but rebroadcasts news from Deutsche Welle, the BBC, and the Voice of America. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)EUROPEAN MEDIA INSTITUTE OPENS OFFICE.
The European Institute for the Media (EIUM) opened a new office in Kyiv on 1 April 2001. Located in the Trade Union building on Maidan Nezalezhnosti 2, 7 Floor, Room 716, it provides opportunities for day-to-day contacts between the EIM Kyiv representative and the local media community. The Kyiv office will shortly begin producing the "Ukrainian Media Bulletin." The EIM's activities in Ukraine are part of the three-year Media for Democracy in the CIS project which the Institute launched in February 2000. The project is partly financed by the European Union through the Initiative for Human Rights and Democratization. Monitoring media coverage before elections is one regular feature of the EIM's activities in the CIS and Central and Eastern Europe. Other activities include seminars and workshops on media-related topics such as political communication, media management, broadcasting, and Internet regulation. The EIM's Kyiv office email address is: email@example.com, and the telephone/fax number is: 380-44-228 33 92. (EIM Press Release, 18 April)
INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS' UNION CREATED.
Ruslan Sharipov, a leading member of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, on 16 April announced the founding the previous day of the Union of Independent Journalists of Uzbekistan. Sharipov explained that the union is "tremendously important and necessary" since virtually all media outlets in Uzbekistan serve to promote the views of the present regime and freedom of speech is limited. To date, 14 journalists have joined the new union. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)
ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUM INITIATED.
The Caucasian Institute for Peace Democracy and Development (CIPDD) has started a new service on its website at http://www.cipdd.org. The Discussion Room for Caucasian Journalists will enable the publishing of articles on the CIPDD web plus thematic mailing lists on: Corruption, Regional Security, and Human Rights. An article on the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, opens the Discussion Room at: http://www.cipdd.org/discuss/disc16_toc.htm. (Center for Civil Society International, 18 April)CONFERENCE ON MEDIA CRACKDOWN IN CENTRAL ASIA.
The Kyrgyzstan office of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting will hold on 20 April a conference, entitled "Caught in the Crossfire: Media, Conflict, and Security Laws" in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It will bring together journalistic watchdog organizations and journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and five Central Asian nations, to discuss censorship, security, and freedom of speech issues in Central Asian countries. For details, contact Chinara Jakypova, regional director in Kyrgyzstan, at email: Chinara@iwpr.infotel.kg. (International Journalists Network, 16 April)ROUNDTABLE ON HATE SPEECH.
The Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Transitions, and Civil Society Research Center from Zagreb, and the Center for Law from Bosnia and Herzegovina organized a roundtable on "Hate Speech" in Rovinj on 7 and 8 April. Participants included journalists, sociologists, political scientists, and media researchers from the former Yugoslavia. The discussion is linked to the publication of the book "Media and War" on the role of print and electronic media in devising hate speech and its influence on the war in the ex-Yugoslavia. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 7-13 April)MEDIA HELP LINE REPORT ISSUED.
The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina released its FreeMedia Help Line report for 2000 on 10 April, including a detailed review of cases reported to the Help Line in 2000. Out of 104 cases reported in 2000, 32 cases were registered in the Republika Srpska and 72 in the BiH Federation. The OSCE believes this discrepancy may not necessarily reflect a more oppressive working environment for media in the Federation, but could be indicative of more of a willingness or public awareness to contact the OSCE. Regan McCarthy, director of the OSCE BiH Media Department, said, "What makes the Help Line unique not only in BiH, but also elsewhere, is that we respond to every complaint that we receive and provide effective assistance, unless asked not to do so." Most cases reported in 2000 (100 cases, 96.1 percent) were committed by the following five categories: Government/Public Officials: 36 cases (34.6 percent); Anonymous: 25 cases (24.0 percent) Unaffiliated Individuals: 24 cases (23.1 percent); Media Outlet Employees: nine cases (8.6 percent); Police: six cases (5.8 percent). In an OSCE survey in early 2000 among journalists from 50 outlets around the country, more than 90 percent of journalists who experienced some interference reported that it came from officials. By the end of 2000, that figure has dropped below 40 percent. (OSCE Press Release, 10 April)
ONLINE PUBLISHING TOOL.
The Center for Advanced Media-Prague (C@MP) launched CAMPSITE, a content-management system with multilingual Unicode support designed for medium- to large-sized online publications on 19 April. Journalists and editors can post news directly to the web, while webmasters can pursue design and develop new site features. Issues, back archives, copy flow, as well as subscription management are fully implemented features of the software. At the core of the management system is CAMPFIRE, a Java applet supporting Unicode, which allows contributors and editors to control online layout and publish in their native alphabets. No HTML knowledge is necessary to format text or add links or images. Ongoing development projects include CAMPSITE, an automated web-publishing environment for news media; LoCAMP, a set of scripting tools for low-bandwidth devices; AdEngine, a web application that will enable online media to run their own complex ad campaigns plus opportunities to pool their ad-revenue potential with peer websites; and CAMPWORK, a virtual radio-networking toolkit. Visit http://www.campware.org or contact Frances Abouzeid at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Center for Advanced Media-Prague, 19 April)
OSCE CONDEMNS INTIMIDATATION OF JOURNALISTS.
The OSCE Free Media Helpline has registered an alarming increase in complaints from radio and TV stations in Croat-dominated areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina complaining about pressures, threats, and intimidation of editors and staff by HDZ-BiH and other Croat self-rule supporters. See http://www.osce.org/news/generate.php3?news_id=1632 (OSCE Press Release, 12 April)CZECH JOURNALIST EXPELLED.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said on 13 April that it detained and expelled Czech journalist Michal Plavec for "improper conduct," CTK reported. It said Plavec, who is also an official in the Czech-based People in Need foundation, had "coordinated the work of a foreign organization in Belarus and has time and again been involved in unsanctioned mass actions accompanied by arrests." The Czech Foreign Ministry said this reasoning is "fabricated and unfounded." Plavec was working for the Czech weekly newspaper "Respekt." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)
THE NEW CLASS AFTER COMMUNISM
By Paul Goble
Six years ago today (20 April), Milovan Djilas, the man who coined the term, "new class," which helped to explain both the nature of communism and also the reasons for its largely non-violent collapse, died in Belgrade at the age of 84.
Born in an Montenegrin village in 1911, Djilas joined the Communist Party and rose to become a close associate of Yugoslav partisan leader and later President Josip Broz Tito. But the latter's break with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1949 set Djilas on a very different course, one that would lead not only to prison but to the elaboration of one of the most significant critiques of the communist system.
The Soviet-Yugoslav split led Djilas to three major conclusions: first, that communism in the Soviet bloc had become little more than Russian imperialism under an ideological cover; second, that he could exploit ties with the Western press to criticize communism from within; and third, that communism as actually practiced had led to the rise of "a new class" of rulers, people more interested in their own privileges than in the ideals they professed to believe in.
Djilas' understanding of the nature of the Soviet bloc did not put him at odds with Tito. Indeed, in many ways Djilas simply expressed in more intellectual language the tensions between Belgrade and Moscow. But precisely because he was an intellectual, Djilas pushed this idea to its logical conclusion and argued that national independence and a unique national approach to socialism were absolutely necessary for progress.
That idea was not only dangerous in multinational Yugoslavia but a direct threat to the power of Tito and his entourage. As a result, in 1954, Tito accused Djilas of factionalism, and Djilas in turn semi-apologized and turned in his Communist Party card and became a lifelong dissident.
In that role, Djilas pioneered a technique which was to be used by others who found themselves trapped within communist regimes. Under attack at home, Djilas did something few had ever had the courage to do before: he gave an interview to "The New York Times" both in order to get his own ideas out and also to use the Western press as an ally against his own government.
Such a strategy did not keep him from mistreatment at the hands of that government -- he later spent nine years in prison -- but it did give him time to elaborate the ideas which became his most important book, "The New Class," which was published abroad in 1957.
In that study, Djilas argued that the communist regimes had degenerated from the ideologically committed into a group of greedy individuals concerned only about their own privileges and status. Djilas' conception built on the earlier ideas of Jan Machajski and James Burnham, but his invention of the term "new class" caught the imagination of many in both communist countries and the West.
Djilas' basic point became part of the critique of the system by dissidents across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and it generated such later studies as Michael Voslensky's 1980 classic, "Nomenklatura," which described in greater detail the nature of the new and ever less ideologically committed power elite in the USSR.
Because Djilas understood the nature of communist regimes so well and was not blinded by their ideological protestations, he recognized that the ruling classes of these countries would ultimately understand that to survive and prosper they would have to shed their ideological shackles. In one of his last essays, Djilas wrote that the end of communism in Europe had been so quiet precisely because "communism had overthrown itself."
Like many prophets, Djilas saw the details of his argument ignored both when he made his predictions and when they came true, and most analysts in both East and West have forgotten what he said about the nature of the new class. Were they to pay more attention to his words of four decades ago, they would almost certainly understand far better why many members of the new class have continued in power, albeit without the ideological verbiage of communism.
And they would also, on this anniversary of Djilas' death, understand better why the greed of the new class has become even less constrained now that its members no longer have to give even lip service to the ideals of justice and equality.