25 May 2001, Volume
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM MAP.
Please see: http://www.rsf.fr/uk/html/carte/carteUk.html (Civil Society International, 23 May)
NEWSPAPER ASSETS 'RECLAIMED.'
In early April, three men appeared in the "Chorord Ishkhanutyan" offices and declared that a "highly placed" official had ordered them to seize the paper's assets, "Aravot" reported on 10 April. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
AVA COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR ARRESTED.
In what the "Zerkalo" newspaper described as a confrontation between the Tax and the Telecommunications Ministries, Shamil Safiev, commercial director of AVA TV, was arrested on 22 May. He is charged with falsification of financial documents and hiding "huge sums" from the tax authorities. An AVA TV staff member confirmed that Safiev had been arrested, adding that only a court can decide if he is guilty as charged. ("Zerkalo," 23 May)ABA TV CHANNEL TO BROADCAST CNN NEWS IN AZERIBAIJANI.
On 23 May, CNN news began to be broadcast in Azerbaijani for 30 minutes daily on the ABA TV channel. ("Azerbaijan Bulletin," 24 May)BAKU MAYOR WANTS PAPER'S CLOSURE...
On 18 April, the "Yeni Zaman" paper held a press conference to announce that Ali Gajiev, head of the Office of the Administration of Baku, has filed suit with a Baku court demanding that the newspaper be closed down. Mr. Azimov said that all his publications criticizing the activities of the new mayor of Baku were based on fact and reporting. Six people from the pro-government "Ses" newspaper tried to interfere with the press conference and voiced support for the new mayor. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)...AND GETS ANOTHER SUSPENDED.
On 24 April, Baku Mayor Gajibala Abutalybov won a lawsuit against the "Milletin Sesi" newspaper. He brought an suit against the paper after it published an article entitled "They don't let Gajibala Abutalybov work normally." The article did not aim to defame the mayor, but he thought otherwise. The court suspended publication of the paper for two months. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER DISTRIBUTION DANGEROUS.
On 19 April in Minsk, four activists of the ZUBR movement were detained for circulating a special issue of "Nasha Svaboda" newspaper; police officers later confiscated 500 copies of the newspaper to ascertain the legality of the edition. The previous day, seven people were detained in Minsk for circulating the same issue of the same paper. Eleven people were detained in the two preceding days for handing out stickers summoning people to take part in a ZUBR action, "Final Diagnosis." Four of the 11 were charged with anti-sanitary activities. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)MINSK JOURNALIST CHARGED WITH ORGANIZING UNSANCTIONED MEETING.
On 22 April, during an action of the "Final Diagnosis" movement, over 35 people were detained and released within a few hours. "Nasha Svaboda" reporter Anastasia Chernik was officially informed she will be charged with breaking administrative rules for organizing and conducting meetings, street marches, and demonstrations. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)DATA DENIED TO BREST OBLAST JOURNALISTS.
On 20 April, the deputy chairman of the Stolin City Council refused to provide the private "Vecherny Stolin" newspaper with data on local budget expenditures on sports competitions in which officials from the City Council took part. Four days earlier, the head of the Public and Political Information Department at the Stolin City Council refused to give to the same newspaper data on religious groups registered in the region as well as any press releases from his department. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)PUNISHED FOR CHORNOBYL NEWS.
On 20 April in Vytebsk, militia officers beat up Anton Medzevetsky, who was distributing a special Chornobyl issue of "Rabochy" newspaper. Two militias officers pushed Medzevetsky into a car, handcuffed him, and beat him, supervised by Sergeant Afonin. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)ACTIVIST DETAINED FOR DISTRIBUTING PAPER.
On 23 April, youth activist Alexei Bogomolsky was detained in Minsk as he was distributing the "Navinki" newspaper. At the Pervomaiskoe Militia Department, he was given an official reprimand and two dozen copies of the paper were confiscated due to its alleged 'anti-government bias'. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)MINSK JOURNALIST BOOTED OUT OF MEETING.
On 25 April, "Narodnaya Volya" reporter Marina Koktysh, was evicted from a meeting of the Officers' Union of Belarus. During the meeting, two members of the union first asked the journalist to show her documents and then to leave the room. After a quarrel in the entrance hall of the Minsk Officers' House where the meeting took place, the journalist was put out into the street. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)GOVERNMENT GIVES PERMISSION FOR GAY MAGAZINE...
The State Publishing Committee has lifted a ban against the monthly gay magazine "Forum Lambda Review." The committee had revoked the publication's registration on 3 March, claiming it "was registered as an educational and cultural publication but has been running erotic content for over a year." Its publisher brought suit, saying, "'Forum Lambda" has never been any more explicit than "Men's Health." The revocation was lifted just as the court began consideration of the case. (FSU Media List, 22 May)...BUT SEEKS TO BLOCK ITS WEB VERSION?
"Forum Lambda Review's" Internet provider, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), has given the magazine two weeks to find a new web-hosting service and e-mail provider, its publisher claimed. IREX said it will no longer host "public organizations." "Unofficially," says Tarletski, "a reliable source in IREX informed us that [IREX] decided to reject web-hosting and e-mail service under pressure from the Belarusian government...and it also thinks that our site contains pornography." (FSU Media List, 22 May)
JOURNALISTS FIGHT TO PRESERVE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER.
The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists organization, on 22 May expressed its solidarity with the striking journalists of Bosnia-Herzegovina's oldest daily newspaper, "Oslobodjenje." The IFJ and its regional organization, the European Federation of Journalists, called on the management to return to the negotiating table and to reach an agreement that will guarantee basic social rights to the editorial workforce. The management has refused to give information about the state of the company's finances after its recent privatization. (International Federation of Journalists, 22 May)
LOWER HOUSE 'FILTERS' RADIO TELEVISION COUNCIL CANDIDATES.
The Chamber of Deputies on 18 May selected 45 names from among the 156 candidates submitted to it for membership in the new Radio and Television Council. The 15 members of the council are to be chosen from among the 45 candidates, who were to be questioned at hearings on 21 May. Vladimir Mlynar of the opposition Four Party Coalition said the selection of the 45 was "very likely" the outcome of "political deals between the two most powerful parties" -- the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), CTK reported. CSSD deputy Miroslav Kucera denied any deals, saying the selection reflected the "pragmatic considerations" of lawmakers who were aware of the fact that some "controversial or conflict-prone" candidates are unlikely to make it to the council. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)CRITICISM OF CZECH TV COUNCIL SELECTION SESSION.
Karel Kuehnl, leader of the Four Party Coalition, on 21 May said the coalition might boycott the Chamber of Deputies' session at which the 15-member Television Council will be selected from among the 45 remaining candidates, CTK reported. Kuehnl said the way the 45 candidates were selected from among a list of 156 shows that the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) are attempting to forge a sort of "media opposition agreement," parallel to the "opposition agreement" that the two parties have. He said that last year the CSSD and the ODS failed to abolish the independence of the council and are now attempting to achieve that goal by other means. The striking committee that led the sanctions at Czech TV also criticized the selection and said it is considering holding protest rallies "up to the next parliamentary elections." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May)FOREIGN MINISTER, PREMIER TESTIFY IN LIBEL CASE.
Police have questioned Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and have received written testimony from Prime Minister Milos Zeman on the alleged libeling of former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, CTK reported on 18 May, citing Prague District Deputy Prosecutor-General Zdenka Galkova. Zeman and Kavan in 1999 accused Zieleniec of bribing journalists to promote himself. They later apologized and police wanted to shelve the case, but the Prosecutor-General's Office refused. Galkova said it has not yet been established if the "crime of libel has been committed" but "one thing is sure: Zeman based his allegation on information received from Kavan." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)
GOOD RECORD ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS.
An Interior Ministry official announced that unlike its Baltic neighbors, Estonia was not included in the new U.S. Special 301 Piracy Watch list of countries which either do not provide effective intellectual property protection or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. artists and industries that rely upon intellectual property, ETA reported on 2 May. ("RFE/RL Baltic States Report," 22 May)STATE GUARANTEE FOR LOAN TO PUBLIC TELEVISION.
The government agreed on 22 May to give a state guarantee for a 37 million kroons ($2.07 million) 10-year loan to Estonian Television (ETV), or less than half of the 77 million kroons that had been requested, BNS reported. The cabinet set two conditions to grant the guarantee: the Culture, Justice, and Finance ministries must prepare a draft law on turning ETV and Estonian Radio into a joint public broadcasting organization by 5 June, and ETV must sign an agreement on the use of budgetary appropriations with the government. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May)
JOURNALIST ATTACKED FOR REPORTS ON MINISTER OF INTERIOR.
Igor Adrianov, a journalist from the paper "Resonans," was given a lift by two policemen on 3 April. When the cops heard he worked for the newspaper -- which had just run a series critical of the minister of interior --they stopped the car and started beating the reporter for "fighting against our minister." He was left in the street and was later picked up by a taxi. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)LIBEL SUIT AGAINST RUSTAVI TV.
On 3 April, the deputy director of the Anti-Terrorist Center at the Ministry of State Security of Georgia, asked the district court in Tbilisi to bring a libel action against the authors of the "60 minutes" program shown by Rustavi-2 TV company. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
JOURNALIST BEATEN IN BISHKEK.
On 16 April, four men beat the editor in chief of "Kyrgyz Rukhu" independent weekly, Beken Nazaraliev, near a Bishkek bus stop; the reporter was kicked in the head. He stated his intention to report the case to the police as soon as medical examination is over. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)JALAL-ABAD PAPER FINED.
The editor of "Akyikat" newspaper in the Jalal-Abad region reported on 6 April that local lawyers demand that the paper pay a court-ordered fine of 100,000 soms (around $2,000) although the newspaper has appealed to the Supreme Court and a ruling has not yet been made on the case. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
NEGATIVE MEDIA TRENDS CRITIQUED.
Thirty-two artists, scholars, clergymen, physicians, and other intellectuals sent an open letter to President Valdas Adamkus that condemned negative principles prevailing in the media, ELTA reported on 30 April. The letter declared: "The media see such notions as justice, love, morality, and faith as deplorable and not worthy of attention, since they do not raise their circulation and ratings." Noting with regret that moral decline proceeded more rapidly in the 10 years of independence than in the 50 years of Soviet rule, the letter urged Adamkus to initiate a discussion about the strategic vision of the state. ("RFE/RL Baltic Report," 22 May)
PARLIAMENT AMENDS AUDIO/VISUAL LAW...
The parliament on 18 May amended the Audio/visual Law, introducing two new categories of license for broadcasts of foreign radio and television programs. The first category makes it possible for foreign radio and television stations to directly broadcast programs in Moldova, while the second category allows the relay of broadcasts via Moldovan stations. The sponsors of the amendment said the new licenses will bring considerable revenues to Moldova's depleted state budget. For example, a license for direct television broadcasts could bring up to $70 million per year, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Currently, Russian, Ukrainian, and Romanian state television, as well as a number of private radio and television stations, are broadcasting programs in Moldova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)...AND ADVERTISING LAW.
The parliament also approved an amendment to the law regulating advertising, striking out the previous provision that made advertising in the Russian language possible only if it carried a translation into "Moldovan." The amendment allows advertising to be published in any language, without translation. Sixty-two PCM deputies voted in favor of the amendment, although the government said it opposes the move because it contradicts a current constitutional provision that the country's official language is "Moldovan," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)SURVEY: MEDIA 'PARTLY FREE.'
The 1999-2000 independent media survey by Freedom House concluded that Moldova has been only "partly free" from 1997 through 1999. One area of particular concern is that the majority of the country's private media outlets depend on private owners or political organizations for their financial livelihood, often at the cost of editorial independence. The survey also shows that seven percent, or 30,000, of those who own computers have Internet access. ("Moldova Media News," 22 May)DAILY DEPLORES LACK OF ACCESS TO PRESIDENT.
An editorial in the Romanian-language daily "Jurnalul National" claimed that President Vladimir Voronin's information policy denied its reporters accreditation to presidential meetings and trips and are routinely excluded from mailing lists for official press releases. The editorial was published after journalists from "Jurnalul National" failed to get access to Voronin's meeting with Igor Smirnov, leader of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic. Journalists from the opposition media complain that they are denied access to information of public interest and accreditation to official events since the Communists came to power in February 2001. ("Moldova Media News," 22 May)MOLDOVA AND TRANSDNIESTER SIGN ACCORD ON JOINT INFORMATION SPACE.
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and Igor Smirnov, leader of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic, signed an accord which re-establishes information links between them. Radio and television programs produced by journalists on both sides of the Dniester River will be broadcast in the whole country. ("Moldova Media News," 22 May)EDITOR OUSTED, JOURNALISTS WALK OUT.
A group of journalists from the Moldovan edition of the Russian weekly "Argumenty i Fakty" resigned in protest at what they claimed was arbitrary dismissal of their editor in chief. "My only fault was that I refused to publish propaganda during this year's election campaign despite orders from the paper's owner," said Valentina Ushakova, former editor in chief of "AiF-Moldova" in an interview with Infotag news agency. She noted that several attempts have been made to sack her, but journalists always stood by her. Finally, Ion Musuc, the publication's owner, decided to wipe out the position of editor in chief and thus force Ushakova to leave. Several media outlets were reprimanded for their biased coverage of February general elections in Moldova, and one TV channel was taken off the air. ("Moldova Media News," 22 May)GAGAUZ TELERADIO CLAIMS GOVERNMENT PRESSURE.
"The National Assembly of Gagauzia [an autonomous area in Moldova] exerts pressure on the state-owned Teleradio Gagauzii, by dictating the style, length, and contents of how it covers the legislative body," the director of the TV and Radio Company said on 18 April. She said that the National Assembly wanted to have full control over the leading broadcaster in Gagauzia and claimed that the Chamber of Finance's recent audit of the company's financial records was another example of such pressure. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
MEDIA SAID TO HAVE LOST 'ALL PUBLIC CONFIDENCE.'
An article in "Vedomosti" on 16 May says that the takeover of NTV and the ongoing Gazprom challenge to the ownership of Ekho Moskvy radio are "the latest in a series of ugly media conflicts" that have "destroyed all public confidence in the Russian media." Meanwhile, the Arbitration Court announced that it will consider on 31 May a suit on the liquidation of TV-6, Interfax-AFI reported on 16 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May)JOURNALISTS' UNION SAYS SOFIA DECLARATION NOT OBSERVED IN RUSSIA.
The Union of Journalists of Russia has published findings of experts who conclude that Russia is not observing the provisions of the UNESCO Sofia Declaration on media independence, "Inostranets," No. 17, reported. The media are increasingly owned by the state, the government has restricted the rights of journalists to do their jobs, and the state now requires journalists to reveal sources, all in violation of the Sofia Declaration, the experts said. Meanwhile, on 21 May, negotiations continued on the purchase of part of the shares of the Ekho Moskvy radio station by its employees from Vladimir Gusinsky, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May)ECONOMIC GROWTH VALUED OVER FREE SPEECH.
In a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 22 May, 69 percent of Russians polled said economic growth is important to them. Forty-seven percent said that strengthening the country's defense is important, 35 percent said it is important to them to maintain Russia's status as a great power, 13 percent said that the establishment of a competitive market economy is something they value, but only 12 percent said that development and strengthening of democratic institutions and freedom of speech are important to them. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May)CHUBAIS SAYS MEDIA MAGNATES SHARE BLAME WITH KREMLIN IN CONFLICT.
In an interview in "Kommersant-Vlast," No. 20, Unified Energy Systems Chairman Anatolii Chubais said that blame for ongoing conflict between the Kremlin and media magnates Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky is shared equally by all parties. Gusinsky and Berezovsky "were offered the chance to play by new rules of the game," Chubais said, "but they did not accept and consequently became targets." Chubais contrasted their behavior with that of former Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, who was asked to resign and because he did so with minimum fuss was given another "decent position." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May)IF BEREZOVSKY MET PUTIN...
In the 18 May issue of "Nezavisimaya gazeta," journalist Vitalii Tretyakov presented an imaginary conversation between President Vladimir Putin and embattled media magnate Boris Berezovsky. The upshot of the conversation is that Berezovsky cannot rely on human rights groups alone to advance his interests, will have to try to reach the regional leaders, but will not have any success in Russia even if he makes that effort. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)GUSINSKY SAID BEHIND LANTOS PLAN TO EXCLUDE RUSSIA FROM G-8.
Konstantin Vetrov, the chairman of the Duma's Information Policy Committee, said on 17 May that embattled media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky is behind a proposal by U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) to exclude Russia from the G-8, Interfax reported. He said that the words of Lantos's proposal betray its real authorship. Vetrov added: "Our position in this forum is defined not by the inclinations of Gusinsky and Lantos but by the underlying legalities of the world political process." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May)DIRECTOR REASSERTS THAT NTV WILL BE INDEPENDENT.
Boris Jordan, who became NTV general director after that station was taken over by Gazprom in April, said on 18 May that he guarantees the station's profitability and independence, Reuters reported. He repeated his earlier statement that "if there will be interference [from the authorities]...I will first of all fight it, and if I can't fight, then I will leave." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)SEARCHES CONTINUE AT MEDIA-MOST.
Prosecutors continued for a second day on 23 May their search of the central offices of Media-MOST in Moscow, Russian agencies reported. The searches are part of the government's investigation into the affairs of embattled media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky. Meanwhile, Gusinsky has said that he will sell his entire holdings in Ekho Moskvy to the radio station's journalists if Gazprom-Media will give them 9 percent of its shares in that station, Interfax reported. And Boris Jordan, the new general director of NTV, said that he believes Gazprom will soon sell its shares in his station, the news service said the same day. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May)MEDIA BATTLES SHIFT TO COURTROOMS.
The Moscow Arbitration Court on 17 May put off until 27 September a hearing on the suit by Media-MOST Capital Management against NTV that calls for the court to declare illegal the decisions of its directors on 3 April concerning station management, Interfax-AFI reported. The tax inspection submitted to the Arbitration Court an appeal against the decision by the court of first instance denying it the right to liquidate Media-MOST, the news service reported the same day. Also on 17 May, Aleksei Venediktov, the chief editor of Ekho Moskvy radio, told Interfax that he hopes that negotiations about the sale of the controlling set of shares in the company to the employees of the radio station will be completed next week. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May)NEW, MORE SERIOUS CHARGES AGAINST DORENKO.
Moscow prosecutors announced on 22 May that they have lodged new and more serious charges against television anchor Sergei Dorenko, who is known for his closeness to embattled media magnate Berezovsky, RIA-Novosti reported. Dorenko was initially charged with hooliganism for allegedly running over a naval captain in Moscow with his motorcycle on 15 April, and has now been charged with the more serious crime of hooliganism "with the use of a weapon or of something that can be used as a weapon." If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. Dorenko has said that the case against him is a political fabrication. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May)'ITOGI,' 'NEWSWEEK' FORMALLY END COOPERATION.
Dmitrii Biryukov, the president of the Sem dnei publishing house, told Interfax on 17 May that the Russian journal "Itogi" and the U.S. magazine "Newsweek" have formally dissolved their cooperation agreement. The document specifies that this was done by mutual agreement, Biryukov said, but "Newsweek" indicated that it took this step because of the change of leadership at "Itogi." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May)JOURNALISTS' UNION CHIEF SAYS MEDIA CAN USE ILLEGALLY OBTAINED MATERIALS.
Vsevolod Bogdanov, the president of the Union of Journalists of the Russian Federation, on 22 May welcomed as "very precise and correct" the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court protecting journalists who use material illegally obtained by others and then offered to the journalists, Interfax reported. Bogdanov said that in Russia today, courts are unlikely to reach the same decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May)THE USES OF 'KOMPROMAT' OUTLINED.
An article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 May says that the appearance in the press of transcripts with compromising materials ("kompromat") about presidential administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin might reflect either the work of his enemies, his friends, or himself. Meanwhile, an article in "Novye Izvestiya" on the same day said that kompromat may appear about newly appointed Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin and argued that such materials are intended to immunize the population against any incriminating material that does turn up. That in turn shows that "the authorities are refusing to accept any negative information about members of the upper echelons, proclaiming a special kind of sovereignty with regard to muckraking and virtually branding all complaints not sanctioned by the Kremlin against state officials as acts of political sabotage." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May)KORZHAKOV SAYS PROFESSIONALS BEHIND KREMLIN TAPES.
At a press conference in Moscow on 16 May to discuss the publication of transcripts of tapes of conversations between presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin and powerful Russians, former director of the presidential security service Aleksandr Korzhakov said he published the tapes because they show the nature of Kremlin behavior, Interfax reported. He said that government security officers were involved, just as was the case in Ukraine. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May)KREMLIN SAYS BASAEV TAPE EVIDENCE OF CHECHEN MILITANTS' PRESENCE IN GEORGIA...
In what appears to be a direct response to Georgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze's 18 May statement that there is "no documentary evidence" that Ruslan Gelaev or other Chechen field commanders are ensconced in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, on 21 May the office of Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii released what it claims is a videotaped message from Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev to Gelaev and other field commanders who Basaev says are now in Georgia. Basaev appeals to Gelaev and his men to come to Chechnya, implying that a major offensive is being prepared, including an attack on Grozny. He also lists by their first names several other Chechen field commanders who, he claims, have spent time in Georgia convalescing from wounds, and claims that a large group of Chechen fighters also took up residence in Baku. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May)...BUT IS IT GENUINE?
The Basaev videotape is, however, marked by what appear to be internal inconsistencies, raising the question of whether it is a montage, parts of which were filmed last year. For example, in what Caucasus Press claims is a verbatim transcript of large parts of the tape, Basaev is quoted as saying that he has had no contact for two and a half years with Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov. That statement is presumably a reference to the standoff between Maskhadov and Basaev in early 1999. But Basaev also says that after the retreat from Grozny he went to Makhketi "in March," from where he "sent Shirvani to Maskhadov saying we should meet." Those references are to events that took place last year; the last Chechen fighters abandoned Grozny in February 2000, and Basaev's brother Shirvani was killed in December. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May)FEWER SUBSCRIBERS IN MOSCOW THAN IN TATARSTAN.
According to Aleksandr Muzykantskii, a spokesman for the Moscow city administration, there are only 105 subscriptions to periodicals entered for every 1,000 residents of the capital, compared to 616 among every thousand residents of Tatarstan, Interfax reported on 21 May. Muzykantskii said that one of the reasons for this is that the market for print media in the national capital is poorly developed. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May)YEKATERINBURG JOURNALIST GONE MISSING.
On 8 May, the staff of "Oblastnaya gazeta" asked the people of Yekaterinburg for help in finding its sports reporter, Alexei Matrosov. The 44-year-old journalist left home on 4 May and has not been seen since. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)ATTEMPTED KILLING OF TOMSK MEDIA OWNER.
On 5 April at around 9 a.m., someone fired several shots at the car of local media magnate Ivan Pilevin. He is the owner of the Reklamny Digest agency, "D print" printing house, "Reklama" newspaper and Digest FM radio station. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)'SEPARATIST' STAFF INTERROGATED.
On 25-26 April, the editors of "Separatist" newspaper, B Stomakhin, P Kantor, D Tarasov, and P Lyuzakov, were again questioned by the FSB. A new document has been added to the case: the statement entitled "Freedom to Ichkeria!" made on 1 October 1999, to protest against the start of the second Chechnya war. Lyuzakov was also questioned about an article, "The Murderer of Your Children," published in last year's "Separatist" which accuses Putin of direct responsibility for the "Kursk" sailors' deaths. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)CHECHEN OFFICIAL KILLED BY BOMB BLAST AT TV STATION.
On 12 April, a bomb went off in a private TV studio in Avtury village as Deputy Head of Administration of the Chechen Republic Khasmagomed Deniev was on air; he died on his way to hospital. The TV cameraman was also wounded. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)PRIMORIE TNT TV TOLD NOT TO USE NTV LOGO.
On 15 April TNT late news program in Primorie was instructed not to use the NTV logo since it was relaying news produced by NTV journalists now working with TNT. Under the instructions from the Russian State TV and Radio Company (VGRTK) to its Vladivostok unit, the local TV and Radio Broadcasting Center "should not air news with the NTV logo appearing on channels other than NTV." "I have received an official document, addressed to me and signed by a VGTRK vice-chairman," said Dmitri Volf, director of the Primorie broadcasting center. "There is no term of validity stated in the order." Volf followed the orders of his superiors and banned the broadcast of TNT news in Primorie. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)IVANOVO JOURNALISTS 'PAY' FOR POKING FUN AT LOCAL ADMINISTRATION.
On 23 April, the press center of the administration of the Ivanovo region stopped supplying local media with the list of events planned by the administration for the next week. A member of the press center staff said that this was due to an article in an Ivanovo newspapers mocking the style and news value of the administration's weekly schedule. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)PER-MINUTE PHONE CHARGES SEEN HURTING INTERNET USERS.
Sergei Glazyev, the chairman of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee, said on 21 May that the introduction of per-minute telephone charges is reducing the number of Russian users of the Internet and thus hurting the country's progress, Interfax reported. He stressed that "the economic development of society is directly connected with the development of information technologies," and argued that any reduction in the number of people using the web could thus have negative consequences. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May)MEDIA MINISTRY USES INTERNET TO IMPROVE JOURNALISTS' GRAMMAR.
The Media Ministry has set up a website -- http://www.gramota.ru -- to help improve the grammar and word usage of Russian journalists, Interfax reported on 16 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May)CYRILLIC NAMES TO BE REGISTERED ON THE INTERNET.
The Hong Kong company Regtime.net announced on 18 May that it will register in Cyrillic Russian names, including domain names, for the Internet, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May)MEDIA BULLETIN ISSUED.
The April 2001 issue of the "European Institute for the Media (EIM) Newsletter" on media in the regions of the Russian Federation, based on information from ten EIM reporters, was released on 23 May. This report is produced under the EIM program "Media for Democracy in the CIS (2000-2003)," partly funded by the Commission of the European Union. For a Russian-language version: firstname.lastname@example.org. (European Institute for the Media, 23 May)
DJINDJIC: MEDIA IN GOOD SHAPE.
The media situation in Serbia is better than some other sectors, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said at a media conference on 17 May. He added that on his initiative, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia had signed an agreement that no government official would exert influence on the media, otherwise they would face immediate dismissal. The president of the Independent Association of Serbian Journalists said that pressure had been exerted, exclusively in local media, adding that the situation was still unclear, particularly in Radio Television Serbia. The editor of TV Mreza criticized the republic administration for failing to dismantle formerly pro-Milosevic media outlets such as TV Pink, BK TV and TV Palma. Federal Telecommunications Minister Boris Tadic replied that these outlets had valid documents and licenses, and fulfilled financial obligations on a more regular basis than other media. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)MEDIA MISSED THE BOAT, SAYS TIJANIC.
The Serbian media have missed an opportunity to distance themselves from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), Aleksandar Tijanic said on 11 May. Tijanic, a media consultant to the Yugoslav president, told Jagodina's TV Palma Plus that the media were financially dependent on the state and international assistance and so many seek political security by forming alliances with certain DOS leaders. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)NUMBER OF BROADCASTERS TO BE SLASHED.
The number of broadcasters in Yugoslavia will be slashed from about 1,000 to about 350, Federal Telecommunications Minister Boris Tadic said on 16 May. Tadic added that the exact number of broadcasters was not known but it was believed to be about seven hundred radio and three hundred television stations. The frequency spectrum was a limited resource, said Tadic, and frequencies could not be allocated according to operators' wishes. The minister added that the new legislation would reach parliament by early June. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)PROVISIONAL FREQUENCIES FOR INDEPENDENT MEDIA?
Radio Television B92 Editor in Chief Veran Matic called on 16 May for the allocation of provisional licenses for independent media, deprived of broadcast frequencies under the Milosevic regime, pending enactment of new telecommunications and broadcast legislation. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)FORMER STATE DAILY EDITOR IN COURT.
The former editor in chief of the "Vecernje novosti" daily, Radisav Brajovic, appeared in court on 16 May charged with abuse of authority and illegal gain. The Public Prosecutor of the First Municipal Court alleged that Brajovic evaded taxes as editor in chief of "Vecernje novosti" and as director of the Novosti company. According to the allegations, Brajovic and Rade Djurica, who face the same charges, failed to enter company revenue in Novosti's accounts, thus diverting public income. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)DIASPORA JOURNALIST BARRED FROM CHURCH HEADQUARTERS.
On 11 May, a journalist from the largest-circulation Serbian newspaper outside Yugoslavia, the German daily "Vesti," was not allowed to attend a press conference at the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate building. The reporter was told unofficially that the ban was connected with an article published in Vesti on 7 May on the possible retirement of its patriarch and on possible replacements. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)CAMPAIGN AGAINST HATE SPEECH PLANNED.
The Serbian Independent Association of Journalists and the Media Center announced on 14 May that they will begin a joint campaign against hate speech in local media. A code for journalists will also be developed, with guidelines for certain types of media, to promote ethics and accountability. The code of ethics would be voluntary. ("ANEM Media Update," 12-18 May)
NEW NEWSPAPER DIES AT BIRTH.
In late April, a new newspaper supplement, "Serdar Yeli" (The Way of the Chief), was confiscated at once. The editorial board of the country's only Russian-language newspaper had won a UN grant of $30,000 to publish "Serdar Yeli" as a supplement to "Neitralny Turkmenistan." (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
LAWMAKER SURPRISED AT INTERIOR MINISTER'S STATEMENT ON GONGADZE'S DEATH.
Oleksandr Zhyr from the Reforms-Congress parliamentary group said on 16 May he is surprised it was Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov who made public the results of an investigation into the death of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Zhyr noted that the investigation is being conducted by the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Security Service, not the Interior Ministry. Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said "top leaders of the Interior Ministry have become so entangled in lies" in the Gongadze case that now they need to find some credible explanation for them. Smyrnov stated the previous day that Gongadze was killed for "purely criminal" reasons in a "spontaneous, impulsive" assault. Deputy Interior Minister Mykola Dzhyha provided more details by saying Gongadze was murdered by two drug addicts who gave him a ride. But Gongadze's wife maintains her husband went missing on 16 September 2000 after leaving their apartment simply to put out the trash. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May)OPPOSITION ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF REMOVING MONUMENT TO DEAD JOURNALISTS.
Yuriy Lutsenko, a leader of the "Ukraine Without Kuchma" opposition movement, has accused the authorities of removing the memorial plaque to dead Ukrainian journalists that was unveiled on 21 May without official permission by opposition groups in Kyiv, Interfax reported on 23 May. "I think that the only reason [for removing the plague] was the criminals' fear of seeing the list of their victims and, all the more so, their fear that this list could be seen by many thousands of people," Lutsenko noted. The city administration told the agency that it had not given any orders to remove the plaque. According to Lutsenko, the plaque was dismantled in the early morning of 23 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May)CITY COUNCILMAN INSULTS EDITOR IN CRIMEA.
On 19 April, the deputy chairman of the Alupka City Council in Crimea insulted Ragim Gumbatov, editor of the "Alubika" newspaper. The official attacked Gumbatov, snatched away his tape recorder, and dumped it in a trash bin. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)DNEPROPETROVSK REPORTER HAMMERED.
In late April, three men held up Viktor Trukhov, a correspondent of the "Litsa" newspaper, and beat him over the head with a hammer. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)KYIV REPORTER HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK.
Late at night on 25 April, four men attacked journalist Andrei Masalsky in Kyiv. The offenders have been detained and the victim is in hospital. Until recently, Masalsky was a reporter for the "Silski Visti" newspaper and is still officially on its staff. Other reports claim he has joined the "Chas" newspaper. The Public Relations Center of the Head Department of the Ministry of Interior in Kyiv told the press that they exclude any link to Masalsky's professional activities. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
SAMARKAND PAPER BLANKLY PROTESTS CENSORSHIP.
On 6 April, the "Samarkand" weekly appeared with a blank space in an article entitled "Who Loves His Homeland More?" The thirty lines which the censors had "recommended" the editors to delete were left blank. The newspaper did this to protest prevalent but officially illegal censorship. The next issue of "Samarkand," due out on Friday 13 April, did not appear. The printing house refused to print it, saying that the paper owed a lot of money, but that it would resume printing when the debt was paid. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 22 May)
GEORGIA, RUSSIA TO INVESTIGATE MEDIA COVERAGE OF PANKISI.
At a meeting in Moscow on 23 May, the Georgian and Russian interior ministers, Kakha Targamadze and Boris Gryzlov, agreed to establish a joint working group to investigate ongoing media claims that thousands of Chechen fighters are camped in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, Russian agencies reported. But Targamadze denied Russian media reports that he and Gryzlov had agreed to begin a joint search for those Chechens, explaining that they had agreed only to exchange relevant information. In Tbilisi, a police chief from eastern Georgia told Interfax that nine mobile police units have been created and are combing the Pankisi gorge, but have found no evidence of the alleged Chechen militant presence there. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May)
DOUBTS REMAIN OVER 'RESOLUTION' OF GONGADZE MURDER CASE
By Askold Kryshelnycky
Last week, Ukraine's interior minister, Yuriy Smyrnov, announced that police had solved the murder of opposition journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. The case of the journalist's death last autumn has become a national sensation. Allegations that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma might be involved in the murder have led to widespread demonstrations calling for Kuchma's ouster.
But on 15 May, Smyrnov said the killing had not been politically motivated. He said Gongadze's murderers were common criminals who were later murdered themselves. A map showing the location of Gongadze's grave had been found on one of their bodies, he added. Smyrnov went on to say that those responsible for the killings of the two murderers are now in custody. He also referred to the involvement of a mysterious crime boss nicknamed "Cyclops." He added that "as [interior] minister, I consider the crime to be resolved. We have proof concerning the criminals, who have died, to our sorrow."
Smyrnov's announcement, however, does not spell an end to the case. The Ukrainian press has reported that the Prosecutor-General's Office, in comments to the lawyer of Gongadze's mother, called Smyrnov's statement "premature" and said that the matter has not yet been concluded. Deputy Prosecutor-General Mykola Obikhod said his office will issue a full response to Smyrnov's statement this week. Many opposition politicians -- as well as Gongadze's widow, Myroslava -- have called Smyrnov's announcement a deliberate attempt to confuse the public and deflect attention from Kuchma's possible role in the murder.
Myroslava Gongadze says Smyrnov's version of events is, in fact, a fabrication. "Right now we're witnessing the latest in a series of announcements which, in my opinion, Internal Affairs Minister Smyrnov had no right to make," she said. "[I say this] because the investigation is being conducted by the Prosecutor-General's Office, and only the Prosecutor-General's Office can say whether the matter has really been concluded and talk about the results of the investigation. Therefore, I have no reason to trust [Smyrnov's] announcement. Actually, I haven't trusted him for a long time, and in the present situation I have even more reason to distrust him."
The investigation into the disappearance and murder of Gongadze has been plagued by confusion and conflicting information from the start. Gongadze disappeared from Kyiv last September. The following month, a headless corpse -- later identified as his -- was found in a woods south of the city. Gongadze had been an outspoken critic of President Kuchma, who he claimed was involved in corrupt business dealings. A former Kuchma bodyguard then came forward with audio recordings he said he had secretly made of conversations between the president and his advisers. The recordings appeared to show that Kuchma had wanted action taken to silence the outspoken journalist. Kuchma has consistently denied the authenticity of the recordings. But his political opponents -- and thousands of ordinary Ukrainians -- are convinced the recordings proved the president's involvement in Gongadze's death. Mass demonstrations have followed, with protesters calling for Kuchma's resignation.
The official investigation into Gongadze's murder also has been criticized by Gongadze's relatives and a number of Ukrainian politicians. Some Western governments and entities such as the Council of Europe have also expressed doubts that the investigation is being conducted in a proper and transparent manner. Ukrainian authorities at varying times have alleged that the corpse found in the woods outside Kyiv is not Gongadze's, and for months refused to allow the journalist's relatives to examine the remains. Oleksandr Kryvenko, a spokesman for the opposition Forum for National Salvation, described Smyrnov's version as a "fairy tale." He said it is obvious that criminals murdered the journalist but that that in itself does not exclude a political motive.
Gongadze's widow, who is now in the United States after being granted political asylum last month, said the police in the past had deliberately muddled the investigation into her husband's death and continue to do so now. "The fact is that, in this matter, the Prosecutor-General and the police have distinguished themselves with many statements which later have not been substantiated and where, in a normal society, they would have had to be corrected. From the very beginning there were announcements that it was not a politically motivated matter, and then that the corpse that was found had been reburied there, and so forth. The police made these announcements, and when the Prosecutor-General's Office investigated, they could not substantiate the police claims," Myroslava Gongadze told RFE/RL.
Ukraine's Interior Ministry was reluctant to comment on the Prosecutor-General's Office's continuing investigation into the case. A ministry spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Smyrnov is not prepared to issue any more details regarding the Gongadze case. "The minister said that he is not going to discuss the details. That's probably because the Prosecutor-General is still investigating. [There are] probably still some outstanding matters [that] need to be cleared up," the spokesman told RFE/RL.
The spokesman denied that there were any serious differences between the Interior Ministry and the Office of the Prosecutor-General. "I can't make any conclusions. You as a journalist have to draw your own conclusions. There has been a concrete announcement by Smyrnov. As for the Prosecutor-General's Office, I don't know, because I don't work there," the spokesman noted. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 22 May)