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Media Matters: June 18, 2001


18 June 2001, Volume 1, Number 19
INTERNATIONAL
JOURNALISM: 'A DANGEROUS PROFESSION IN THE CIS'... On 13 June, the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES) published "A Dangerous Profession: Monitoring of Violations in 2000 of Journalists' Rights in CIS Countries;" a Russian-language book with a print run of 1,000. It contains information from CJES correspondents as well as human rights organizations, and provides data on seven basic categories of violations of journalists' rights: killings; attacks; detentions and arrests; legal prosecutions; pressure on the mass media; censorship; and data about missing journalists. The CJES lawyer, Elena Kandybina, has written legal commentary on each country's legislation and on the situation of freedom of speech. The book, printed by the Human Rights publishing house, was funded with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy Press Department in Russia. See the CJES website at http://www.cjes.ru/library/prof_2000/index.html.

...AS SHOWN BY STATISTICS FROM LAST YEAR: The following data, summarizing basic violations of journalists' rights in the year 2000 in CIS countries, is excerpted from "A Dangerous Profession." Killings -- Russia: 4, Georgia: 1, Tajikistan:1, Ukraine: 1. Unsolved murders or unclear investigation results -- Russia: 5, Kazakhstan: 1, Ukraine: 3. Murders unrelated to professional activities -- Russia: 12, Tajikistan: 1, Ukraine: 2; Missing journalists -- Russia: 2, Belarus: 1. Attacks related to professional activities -- Russia: 64, Azerbaijan: 26, Armenia: 2, Belarus: 3, Georgia: 13, Kazakhstan: 8, Kyrgyzstan: 2, Moldova: 4, Ukraine: 10. Attacks unrelated to professional activities -- Russia: 18, Tajikistan: 3, Ukraine: 2; Detentions and arrests of journalists -- Russia: 21, Azerbaijan: 4, Armenia: 3, Belarus: 44, Georgia: 2, Kyrgyzstan: 1, Ukraine: 1. Legal prosecutions of journalists -- Russia: 17, Azerbaijan: 2, Kazakhstan: 2, Kyrgyzstan: 4, Turkmenistan: 1. Pressure on the mass media -- Russia: 37, Azerbaijan: 7, Armenia: 1, Belarus: 3, Georgia: 3, Kazakhstan: 8, Kyrgyzstan: 4, Moldova: 2, Ukraine: 6. Censorship -- Russia: 16, Azerbaijan: 1, Armenia: 3, Belarus: 1, Kazakhstan: 3, Tajikistan: 2, Ukraine: 9. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 13 June)

TELEVISION ACCUSES OSCE MISSION HEAD OF SPYING -- ONCE AGAIN. Belarusian Television on 9 June reiterated its previous allegations that Hans Georg Wieck, head of the OSCE Advisory and Consultative Group in Minsk, is a Western spy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 December 2000). "I will remind you that [Wieck] is a big specialist in creating spying and sabotage networks. Possibly, such a network is needed by the West on the territory of pre-election Belarus. Did Mr. Wieck not have in mind such a network when he spoke about it on ORT as about an [already] accomplished fact?" a Belarusian Television moderator said during the "Panarama" newscast. The moderator was referring to Wieck's interview with ORT the same day, in which the OSCE official criticized the Belarusian government for its failure to create conditions for democratic elections. Apparently taking a phrase out of context, Belarusian Television quoted Wieck as saying on ORT, "I think that we have created such a network, and it will work efficiently in connection with the presidential elections as well." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)

OPPOSITION ACTIVIST JAILED FOR THREE MONTHS. The authorities on 12 June jailed opposition activist and journalist Valery Shchukin for three months. A Minsk district court found Shchukin guilty of hooliganism when the latter tried to force his way into the Interior Ministry building on 16 January 2000 in order to attend a news conference by Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau. "I was given 92 days in jail for standing for the freedom of expression in Belarus. On that day, 16 January, I went to an open news conference. I told them in advance that I would come, but they illegally prevented me from participating," Shchukin told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June)

BELARUS
FOUR RUSSIAN TV CHANNELS GO OFF AIR IN MINSK. Four Russian television channels -- ORT, RTR, NTV, and Kultura -- were all suddenly taken off the air in Minsk on 11 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency added that the Belarusian Communications Ministry and the presidential administration have refused to comment on the break in transmission. Quoting unidentified sources from the Belarusian State Television and Radio Company, ITAR-TASS reported that the channels were disconnected because of "routine" maintenance work. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DRAFT BROADCAST LAW. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Internews this week completed a two-day roundtable discussion on broadcast law resulting in recommendations for new draft regulations for Azerbaijani broadcasting. Under the draft proposals, the Azerbaijani government would publish an annual list of available frequencies to be awarded through a competition held by the independent regulatory commission. The nine members of the commission would not be allowed to hold government postings or maintain active political party affiliations. The draft also sets time frames for the issuance and payment of licenses, as well as permissible reasons for their revocation. Some two dozen representatives from media outlets, journalists' groups, lawyers, academics, NGOs, and government representatives participated in the roundtable which was held 4-5 June in Baku. The draft will be presented for further work at an upcoming conference hosted by the Council of Europe and the Yeni Nesil Union of Journalists. As a recently accepted member of the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has made commitments to strengthen its media legislation, including creating more transparent broadcast licensing laws. Six of the eight television stations operating in Azerbaijan's outlying regions do not hold licenses to operate, yet continue to broadcast based on loose agreements with local governors. Their lack of licenses has led to frequent shutdowns. (Internews Azerbaijan, 7 June)

AZERBAIJAN
CZECH REPUBLIC
TENSION REEMERGES AT CZECH TELEVISION. The Civic League association, which was formed by people who supported the Czech TV journalists' strike in December 2000-January 2001, on 12 June said in a statement that the decision of interim Director Jiri Balvin to dismiss Martin Mrnka as head of the political programs department seems to be "the beginning of cleansing" at Czech TV. Balvin dismissed Mrnka on 11 June, saying he was not satisfied with his work and with the way the department finances some programs, CTK reported. The agency said rumors are circulating at Czech TV that Bohumil Klepetko is also about to be dismissed as head of the news department. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June)

KYRGYZSTAN
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS PRIVATE OSH TV STATION. After a series of successful appeals of OshTV, a private TV station based in Osh, the session of the Supreme Arbitration Court of Kyrgyzstan ruled today to overturn the initial ruling of the Bishkek Arbitration Court which would have forced the station to switch broadcast frequencies at a cost of $42,000. The case was sent back to the lower court for reconsideration. The station received the ruling with great enthusiasm because the Supreme Arbitration Court was the final and ultimate instance in this pending trial of the station with the government agency. About 40,000 signatures of Osh inhabitants in support of OshTV were collected and presented to the court. OshTV also received assistance from Internews-Kyrgyzstan, the civic association "Journalists," the Osh Media Resource Center, and a number of parliamentarians. (Osh Media Resource Center Press Release, 12 June)

LOCAL JOURNALIST ARRESTED IN JALAL-ABAD. According to Valery Uleev, representative of the Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law in Jalal-Abad Province, local authorities on 28 May detained Samagan Orozaliev, a National TV and Radio Corporation reporter. The reporter is accused of taking a bribe. On 6 June, local human rights activists received a letter from the reporter which claims that the head of the regional electricity company had organized his arrest. Orozliev had previously reported on the official's alleged corrupt activities. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 8 June)

CRITICISM OF AKAEV AND HIS FAMILY IS PROHIBITED... Chief editor of the "Tribuna" biweekly Yrysbek Omurzakov told RFE/RL correspondent on 8 June, that authorities of the state-run Uchkun publishing house ordered him to remove any criticism of President Askar Akaev and his family from his paper. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 8 June)

...AND KYRYGYZ-LANGUAGE PAPER NOT PRINTED. The state-run Uchkun publishing house refused on 8 June to print the Kyrgyz edition of the opposition "Res Publica" weekly. The papers' editor Zamira Sydykova told RFE/RL on 8 June that this was due to an article on First Lady Mairam Akaeva's partial ownership of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bishkek (as translated from "The Guardian" of 16 May). The Russian edition of "Res Publica," with the article, was published on 5 June. According to Sydykova, State Secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov asked her to remove the article, but she had refused. Text is available on "The Guardian" site at: Http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4187452,00.html. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 8 June)

MACEDONIA
POLICE ASSAULT TWO REPORTERS... Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested the assault on Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent Colin Neacsu and his interpreter Lumni Murseli. According to the RSF, Neacsu and Murseli were arrested on 8 June by Macedonian soldiers near the town of Aracinov. They were handed over to police for interrogation and were subjected to repeated beatings. Neacsu was detained for several hours in an underground cell at the police station. Murseli spent the night handcuffed to a table, his head covered with a garbage bag. The two men were released early on 9 June. The two AFP contributors did not have the required accreditation to work in Macedonia, but had legally entered the country from Kosovo. (Reporters sans frontieres, 13 June)

�AND DETAIN EDITOR. On 9 June, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) assistant editor in Macedonia Veton Latifi was arrested at a police checkpoint at the outskirts of Skopje. Latifi, 26, a regular contributor to IWPR's "Balkan Crisis Report," also works for the Albanian program of Macedonian state TV, was travelling in a taxi with four other passengers and after a review of ID cards, was the only one taken to the police station. "It is an order," Latifi was told by a policeman as he was taken in a windowless van to the police station. During his detention, Latifi's mobile telephone, computer disks, and press cards were seized. He was not allowed to make any telephone calls. Police regularly pointed guns at him, and several times he was threatened verbally with death. After nearly two hours, he was released without explanation. Some of his computer disks were retained. This is the second time Latifi, who has extensive contacts with diplomats, has had trouble with the Macedonian authorities. A month ago, police arrested his father and detained him for one night without charges. See http://www.iwpr.net. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 10 June)

MOLDOVA
PREMIER WANTS JOURNALISTS TO PROVIDE 'OBJECTIVE COVERAGE.' Vasile Tarlev told media managers in Chisinau on 7 June that the government does not intend to impose censorship, but calls on them to "constructively cooperate" with it and "cover events objectively," Infotag reported. Tarlev said he wants "the media to be guided by the national interest" and to "support all good initiatives, domestic producers, and every measure aimed at economic rehabilitation and at creating new jobs." He said journalists must pay greater attention to problems of youth, provide "analytical articles on economic problems, popularize achievements of Moldovan scientists," and contribute to the struggle against criminality. Tarlev also said objective information must be provided "to the entire population" and proposed that the main national television newscast be subtitled in the Russian language to reach wider audiences, including the Transdniester. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

PARLIAMENT PROHIBITS FOREIGN FINANCING OF MEDIA. The parliament on 7 June approved on first reading a bill prohibiting the financing of Moldovan publications by foreign governments or support received for that purpose in any other form, Infotag reported. The bill was submitted in the previous legislature but only came to debate now. Its provisions would not apply to children's publications, scientific publications, or periodicals published by the writers' and artists' unions. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

MONTENEGRO
PRESIDENT BRINGS CHARGES AGAINST TWO PAPERS. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has brought criminal charges against the Zagreb weekly "Nacional" and against the Podgorica daily "Dan" for mentioning his name in connection with cigarette smuggling in Montenegro, a Democratic Party of Socialists spokesman said 6 June. ("ANEM Media Update," 2-8 June)

ROMANIA
JOURNALISTS PROTEST INTENTION TO POLITICIZE RADIO, TELEVISION. Some 160 radio journalists on 8 June signed a letter protesting what they perceive as an attempt by the ruling Party of Social Democracy to exercise control over radio and television broadcasts, RFE/RL reported. On 6 June, parliamentary commissions for culture, arts, and mass media of Romania's two-chamber parliament voted to reject the report of the two institutions' administrative boards. The parliament's plenum now has to approve the commissions' recommendations, after which the administrative councils can be dismissed and new councils appointed. Romanian Radio General Director Andrei Dimitriu appealed to authorities to forego their intention, warning that "under present circumstances, having [an emulation of the December-January events in] Prague will not improve the regime's international credibility." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)

RUSSIA
IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH 'AN INTRINSIC NEED?' Well-known sociologist Yury Levada recently made a presentation titled "Why Freedom of Speech Hasn't Become an Intrinsic Need in Society," according to "The Russia Journal." In Levada's opinion, half the population was actively concerned by the NTV affair: "the most noticeable reaction to political events in recent years." But the other half of the population viewed the NTV issue not as the authorities attempt to restrict freedom of speech, but due to financial disputes and quarrels between oligarchs. ("The Russia Journal," 8-14 June)

AD FUND TO AID BANKRUPT RUSSIAN PRESS? Advertising expenditures are not fully tax deductible for companies in Russia, since newspapers are allowed no more than 40 percent advertising content, (American newspapers average almost 60 percent) according to a letter in "The Washington Post." As a result, notes the letter, most newspapers can't get the stable financial base they need through ads. Several organizations, including the International Center for Journalists in Washington and the Media Research Center Sreda in Moscow, have recently backed a project called the Russian Media Fund. The project has requested and received an invitation from the Russian government to work out a remedial plan, and expects funding from about a dozen Russian and Western companies that account for most ad expenditures in Russia. ("The Washington Post," 13 June)

PUTIN REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO FREE MEDIA. In a message to the Media Forum 2000 in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin on 13 June reaffirmed his commitment to free media, noting it is a precondition for development of a democratic society and "the most important" protection against any retreat to the authoritarianism of the past, Russian and Western agencies reported. Viktor Cherkesov, the presidential envoy to the Northwest federal district, said he considers the effective interaction of the authorities and the media to be one of the most important tasks before Russia today. Aleksandr Lyubimov, the president of the Media Union, told the meeting that he does not see his group as duplicating the Union of Journalists. And Media Minister Mikhail Lesin noted in his comments to the group that the situation around NTV has still not stabilized, largely because of the inadequacy of legislation governing the media, Interfax-Northwest reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

PUTIN BACKS FREE PRESS AS 'GUARANTOR' OF DEMOCRACY. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 13 June that a free press was the "most important guarantor of the irreversibility of our country's democratic course," the Russian news agency RIA reported. Putin's message, delivered through the Kremlin news service, was addressed to participants of the Our Times news forum being held in St Petersburg. Putin went on to support the new national media union, the agency reported. "The new national organization Media Union is seeking to consolidate journalists who work constructively, in the interests of all society.... Its activities should contribute to the formation of Russia's single information space and protect democratic rights and liberties," he added. (RIA, 13 June)

LESIN SAYS HE'LL SUPPORT MEDIA UNION EFFORTS. On his arrival in St. Petersburg on 12 June to take part in the Russia Media Forum 2001 meeting, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin said that his agency "intends to support any undertakings of groups like the Media Union which will help to promote the self-regulation of the information marketplace," Interfax-Northwest reported. He said that Moscow wants to allow the media market to regulate itself to the maximum extent possible. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June)

INDEPENDENCE DAY DEBUT OF PUTIN FILM. At 1700 local time on Russian Independence Day on 12 June, RTR television broadcast a new documentary, "Putin: Leap Year," on the Russian president's daily life, reported "The Moscow Times." The 58-minute film was made over the past year. "It aims to show the president away from his official appearances," said the film's director, Vitaly Mansky. "It offers a different view than the cliches of the average daily news broadcast, which are so far the only source from which people can form opinions about him." He said that in shooting the film he was surprised by Putin's "genuine and sincere wish to change life for the better." Apart from the private scenes showing Putin at home and at the office, the president will also speak about Chechnya, tax collection, and the "Kursk" submarine catastrophe, Mansky added. ("The Moscow Times," 13 June)

JOKES AT PUTIN'S EXPENSE: A NEW HIT... Did you hear the one about Vladimir Putin's plan for the Russian economy? "The goal: to make people rich and happy. List of people attached." The first published collection of 110 Putin jokes has seen the light of day and its 5,000 copies are selling like hot cakes. Even Duma members and the Kremlin have apparently ordered copies. A second volume with 80 jokes will be published this fall. "The reaction has been very positive," said Dmitry Pereviazkin, the book's compiler. "I haven't received any hate letters or threats. It shows that Russians haven't lost their sense of humor. And as long as our sense of humor still exists, it will be impossible to impose a personality cult on us." "A cult of personality arises in a hermetically sealed environment, cut off from communication," Yuri Ryzhov of the Russian Academy of Sciences told a Moscow newspaper. "It requires the kind of isolation where not only foreign newspapers are unavailable and mail from abroad doesn't get through, but people can't even talk to each other openly. Nothing like it has been possible in this country since 1953." Nevertheless, some Russian reporters are surprised Pereviazkin has escaped political pressure -- but then, as the author says, he merely collected the jokes of other people. ("The Globe and Mail" (Canada), 9 June)

...AND 'UNCENSORED' PRIMAKOV MEMOIRS TO APPEAR. Sergei Markov, a political analyst and foreign editor of the pro-Kremlin strana.ru website, said on 6 June that in his memoirs, Evgeny Primakov had tried to exact revenge against those who acted against the former Russian prime minister. The book, according to Markov, is not an effort to gain favor with Putin, since for the Russian president, "Primakov is nothing short of a living connection with the [former KGB chief] Andropov legend." The director of the Mysl publishing house, Yevgeny Timofeyev, said that Primakov's 250-page book is to appear by July in a print run of 10,000. Timofeyev stated that Primakov "wrote [the book] himself" and that "despite unflattering revelations" about many of the current elite, Timofeyev said his publishing house had not "experienced any pressure" and that "no one had censored the book." ("The Moscow Times," 6 June)

GLASNOST NOT IN MODE WITH KREMLIN... The fate of glasnost over the past 15 years in an independent Russia was the subject of a recent conference jointly organized by the Gorbachev Foundation and the Glasnost Defense Foundation, reported "The Russia Journal." The conference was to be opened by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, but a cold prevented him from taking part at the last moment. Nevertheless, the conference attracted State Duma deputies, academicians, writers, and Russian and foreign journalists, plus three former media ministers. But the Kremlin administration was absent, even though invitations had been issued three months previously. Media Minister Mikhail Lesin wrote "consider not advisable" on his invitation. Various Kremlin officials either declined the invitation or simply didn't reply. General Director of the All-Russian State TV and Radio Company Oleg Dobrodeev was listed in the program, but claimed he had been slated for a panel discussion with people not of his status and so was a no-show. (His fellow panelists were to have been the chief editors of newspapers often critical of the government.) ("The Russia Journal," 8-14 June)

...AND AMERICAN INTEREST IN OPEN SOURCE INFORMATION SAID BEHIND RUSSIAN ACTIONS. According to an article in "Versiya," No. 20, Russian intelligence and security services have become increasingly sensitive to the possibility that the U.S. will use public information to develop intelligence about Russia and consequently they are seeking to restrict the public flow of such information. The article notes that several times in the last few years, American intelligence agencies have pointed to the potential significance of open sources. It adds that Russian intelligence services are only now trying to deal with that new threat. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

OMSK FSB ISSUES A CORRECTION. A spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB) said that the mass media "distorted" information about the expulsion of U.S. citizen Elizabeth Sweet, regions.ru reported on 13 June. He said that the data Sweet collected was not for espionage but to "create a negative image of local industry," and he said that rather than expel her from Russia, the FSB "strongly recommended to the local university [where Sweet has been working as an English teacher] not to extend her contract." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

LEADING NTV PERSONALITY GOES TO TV6 -- DESPITE THREATS. "The Moscow Times" reported that popular NTV personality Svetlana Sorokina, who quit NTV in April, claimed last month that she would not join the Kiselyov team at TV-6. After being pressured to stay away from TV-6, however, she changed her mind. "During the past few weeks, some people began to tell me very insistently how bad it would be for me to appear on TV-6," Sorokina was quoted as saying in the "Vremya novostei" newspaper on 5 June. "These were real threats, one could say blackmail," she said. ("The Moscow Times," 5 June)

RUSSIAN COURT FREEZES NTV ACCOUNTS AFTER GUSINSKY SEEKS TO COLLECT... A Moscow court on 7 June froze the bank accounts of NTV after embattled media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky's lawyers filed suit to collect 130 million rubles ($4.5 million) the station allegedly owes him, AP reported. Gazprom officials said Gusinsky's effort to obtain that money shows "his true attitude to the press and to the people who work in television." They added that they have concluded that "NTV's debts to [Gusinsky's] Media-MOST were created artificially and in violation of the law." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

...AS JORDAN PLANS TO ISSUE SHARES TO CLEAR NTV DEBTS. Boris Jordan, the general director of NTV, said that by the end of the summer his company will issue shares intended to raise $75-80 million as part of an effort to clear the company's existing debt, gazeta.ru reported on 7 June. He said that he will also seek to cut costs and restructure NTV's debt to Gazprom. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

NEW CHARGES LODGED AGAINST MEDIA-MOST OFFICIAL. The Prosecutor-General's Office has added charges of money laundering to its case against Media-MOST finance chief Anton Titov, Interfax reported on 13 June. Meanwhile, a court refused to release Titov from custody in Lefortovo prison. Journalists were not allowed into the courtroom during the hearing. Titov has been under arrest since 16 January. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

SAMARA CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR RUNS ANTI-SEMITIC PAPER. Oleg Kitter, candidate for the mayor of Samara, is a notorious anti-Semite, claims a local Jewish activist in that city, reports the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry. The activist said: "The circulation of [Kitter's] newspaper, 'Aleks-Inform,' has expanded in [three years] from 2,000 to 250,000 copies. The 10 May edition contains excerpts from 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and has been distributed by Mr. Kitter's staff to almost every mailbox in the city and at the city stadium during sporting events." Kitter has been able to gather the needed 20,000 signatures to be officially registered for the 15 July elections. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry, 11 June)

IRKUTSK POLICE SEIZE ALL COPIES OF OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER AGAIN. Law-enforcement officials in Irkutsk have confiscated all copies of the newspaper "Vostochnosibirskie vesti," the 19th such incidence, Radio Rossii reported on 8 June, citing the agency Sibnovosti. According to the station, the newspaper, in contrast to other mass-media organs in the oblast that are loyal to Irkutsk Governor Boris Govorin, reports "objectively" on the local situation and publishes articles critical of local bureaucrats. The next day, the chairman of the oblast's Committee on Public Utilities, Petr Boronin, told reporters that fake campaign pamphlets had been found that falsely report that Govorin is going to raise electricity and water rates by 100 percent in upcoming months, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to Boronin, the governor has no such plans and the pamphlets were obviously prepared by order of one of the governors' opponents in the 29 July elections. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June)

NEWSPAPER SEIZED IN VLADIVOSTOK. Authorities in Vladivostok seized the entire print run of the newspaper "Dalekaya okraina" because local Interior Ministry chief Colonel Vladimir Krivoshvili said that the paper contained materials that violate election laws. The materials in question involved alleged criminal activities on the part of gubernatorial candidate Sergei Darkin. But the newspaper's editor, Vladimir Gilgenberg, said the authorities themselves acted illegally because they did not have the required court order to confiscate the issue. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

RAMBLER GETS A NEW SHAREHOLDER. Rambler International Holding, owner of leading local Internet portal Rambler, got a new shareholder, the First Mercantile Capital Group investment bank. Previously, Rambler was owned entirely by the consortium Orion Capital Advisors-Russkiye Fondy. A prominent Internet businessman, Anton Nosik, was appointed Rambler's acting president. According to a source at Rambler, FMCG will receive 42 percent of the company's shares while 58 percent of shares would remain with Orion Capital Advisors-Russkiye Fondy. ("The Moscow Times," 6 June)

MOSCOW AGAIN SEEKS LOAN FOR OSTANKINO RECONSTRUCTION. After first running out of funds and then saying that the government will pay for the rebuilding of the Ostankino television tower, Russia's State Construction Committee on 13 June said that it is seeking a $45 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for that purpose, ITAR-TASS reported. Committee officials said they are confident that the loan will be forthcoming. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June)

SERBIA
CORRESPONDENT MURDERED. "Vecernje Novosti" correspondent Milan Pantic was murdered on the morning of 11 June at the entrance to his apartment building in Jagodina, reports ANEM. Preliminary and unconfirmed information suggests that he was killed by a heavy blow to the back of the head with a blunt object. He did not die immediately. An investigation is now underway, and the judge has ordered a postmortem. Before he moved to the "Vecernje Novosti" branch office, Milan Pantic worked in Jagodina radio and publishing company Novi Put. His field of expertise was crime. Milan Pantic, 47, was married with one son. Family members claim that Pantic had recently received phone threats about his articles on crime and corruption. ANEM calls upon the authorities to investigate this crime in a timely and thorough fashion and renews its calls that the murder of journalist Slavko Curuvija, which occurred two years ago, finally be solved. (ANEM, 12 June)

DEFAMATION CHARGES AGAINST RADIO/TV SERBIA. Belgrade lawyer Sava Grujicic brought charges against Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) and its current management on grounds of defamation, the First Municipal Court reported 1 June. The defendants are former RTS acting director and the chief editor of the news program's editing group plus two editors of the news program Dnevnik II. The court statement said that on 26 April 2001, in the second broadcast of the RTS news program Dnevnik, an allegedly false news item was broadcast, saying that the lawyer Branimir Gugl and Dragoljub Milanovic's wife gave money to bribe the judge to repeal custody for Milanovic, and that the bribe had been tendered, according to Otpor, by the lawyer Sava Grujicic. One week ago, Belgrade lawyer Branimir Gugl brought charges against RTS on the same grounds, reported Radio B92. ("ANEM Media Update," 2-8 June)

MILANOVIC AGAIN UNDER CUSTODY... The Supreme Court of Serbia has again reached a decision on custody for the former director of Radio Television of Serbia, Dragoljub Milanovic, the Belgrade district court spokesman announced 5 June. The Supreme Court invalidated the previous decision by the criminal tribunal of the district court, on which grounds Milanovic had been released from custody on 23 April, the statement said. Milanovic's legal representative told B92 that the decision on custody for Milanovic had been reached because of the belief that he could exert influence on witnesses and because he could flee the country. The district court in Belgrade is investigating charges against Dragoljub Milanovic on grounds of endangering public safety, as well as of several suspected abuses of office. Milanovic was arrested on 13 February, and was released from custody on 23 April, on the anniversary of killing of 16 workers in the Radio Television of Serbia building during a NATO bombing raid. ("ANEM Media Update," 2-8 June)

...WHILE MILOSEVIC TESTIFIES IN HIS CASE. Slobodan Milosevic, former president of Yugoslavia, testified on 8 June in the legal proceedings against former Radio Television of Serbia director Dragoljub Milanovic on 7 June in the Belgrade District Prison, "Politika" reported the next day. Milanovic is accused of the criminal act of endangering public safety on 23 April 1999, when the RTS building was bombed, killing 16 employees, According to Milanovic's lawyer, Branimir Gugl, Milosevic said that "it was an attempt to make the perpetrator out of the victim." ("ANEM Media Update," 2-8 June)

ANTI-SEMITIC LITERATURE REAPPEARS IN BELGRADE BOOKSHOPS. The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly condemns the latest appearance of anti-Semitic literature in Belgrade bookshops. After a decade, "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion" has reappeared in Belgrade, published by the "Knjizevno izdavacka zadruga Centar" from Belgrade. The publication represents a clear example of spreading ethnic, racial, and religious hatred, an act which appears in the Yugoslav Criminal Code and is sanctioned by a severe prison sentence. This case has not been subject to such penalties. After ten years, Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" is also back in Belgrade bookshops, published in translation by the Zrenjanin Ekopres along with polemical comments. Other such material has also appeared, including numerous editions of the "IHTUS Christian Book" which blame Jews for the troubled times in Serbia. (ANEM, 11 June)

MICROSOFT SIGNS DEAL WITH YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES. Microsoft Vice President Michael Lacombe signed a letter of intent in Belgrade on 7 June to provide financing and know-how to the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities to help computerize their operations, AP reported on 7 June. In return, the authorities will help Microsoft establish its presence in Serbia and work to combat software piracy. A final agreement will be signed at an unspecified time in the future. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

DRAFT BROADCASTING LAW PRESENTED. A draft of the Broadcasting Act prepared during the last four months by a legal working group along with the Council of Europe and the European Union was presented in Media Center in Belgrade on 8 June. According to federal Telecommunications Minister Boris Tadic, the new law would provide four frequencies for national broadcasts, of which at least two would be allocated to Radio Television of Serbia, while the other would be open for tenders. Tadic underlined that a key aspect of the new Broadcasting Act would be the establishment of an independent regulatory body, to be appointed by parliament. The independent regulatory body will consist of nine members recommended by the Deans' Conference, the Academy of Arts and Science, the government, professional associations, nongovernmental organizations, and the parliament. After the establishment of the Broadcast Council of Serbia, a transition period of two years has been provided for all of the new act's provisions to take effect. ("ANEM Media Update," 2-8 June)

UKRAINE
PARLIAMENT DEMANDS SACKING OF NATIONAL TV CHIEF. The parliament passed a resolution urging President Leonid Kuchma to dismiss Vadym Dolhanov, chief of the National Television Company. The resolution states that Dolhanov's performance is unsatisfactory, adding that he is responsible for failing to provide objective and adequate reporting on the activities of the parliament and local legislative bodies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)

REGIONAL
SOUTH CAUCASUS JOURNALISTS CONTINUE COOPERATION... On 28 and 29 May a meeting of media and NGO representatives from Azerbaijan, including from Karabakh, was held in Tbilisi. The meeting was organized by the Association of Journalists-War Veterans of Azerbaijan with the Karabakh committee "Helsinki Initiative-92," Helsinki Citizens Assembly (HCA) of Georgia, and partially funded by the U.K. Embassy in Armenia. Similar meetings among journalists covering the Karabakh conflict have already become a tradition. The first discussion among journalists and NGOs of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Karabakh took place in 1994 after the cease-fire. One participant in the Tbilisi meeting said that previously such meetings had been dominated by politics, but now journalists discussed mainly the media situation in Azerbaijan and Karabakh and relations between journalists and the authorities. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 2-8 June)

...DISCUSSED AT WORLD NEWSPAPER CONGRESS. On 3-6 June, the 54th World Newspaper Congress and 8th World Editors Forum organized by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) were held in Hong Kong. The Congress started with a roundtable discussion on freedom of speech, including establishment of a dialogue among journalists of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Boris Navasardian, Yerevan Press Club president, led the discussion. Congress organizers said that such cooperation could serve as a model for journalists in other regions torn by conflicts. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 2-8 June)

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