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Media Matters: August 24, 2001


24 August 2001, Volume 1, Number 28
The next issue of "RFE/RL Media Matters" will appear on 7 September.

INTERNATIONAL
MODEL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW ONLINE. A Model Freedom of Information Law, based on best international practice, is reflected in The Public's Right to Know: Principles on Freedom of Information Legislation (2), plus a number of freedom of information laws, representing global standards in this area and is also relevant to civil law countries. The right to information is guaranteed in international law, including also under the guarantee of freedom of expression in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Many countries around the world are now giving legal effect to this right, both by enshrining access to information in their constitutions and by adopting laws which give practical effect to it, providing concrete processes for its exercise. The term "model" is used to signify that it is through a law incorporating the types of provisions set out maximizes practical disclosure of information. A Model Freedom of Information Law provides for an enforceable legal right to access information held by public bodies upon submission of a request. Everyone may claim this right, and both information and public bodies are defined broadly. The Law also provides for a more limited right to access information held by private bodies, where this is necessary for the exercise or protection of any right. The Model Law is online at http://www.article19.org/docimages/1112.htm or e-mail: ilana@article19.org. (Article 19, 16 August)

WORLD REPORT ON LIBRARIES AND INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM. On 22 August, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)/Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) announced the launching of its IFLA/FAIFE World Report on libraries and intellectual freedom. The president of IFLA, Christine Deschamps, said: "Libraries have a crucial role to play. They are an essential tool for the achievement of democracy and social development. Libraries provide access to information, ideas and work of imagination. They serve as gateways to knowledge. Libraries must reflect the plurality and diversity of society, opposing all forms of censorship without being influenced by any political, moral, or religious opinions.... This first IFLA/FAIFE World Report is a major project, [the result of four year's work] a first attempt to provide a picture on the status of libraries and intellectual freedom throughout the world. More than 140 countries have been contacted and 46 have submitted their report. The result is very encouraging since this kind of information had never previously been put together nor published on a global basis." "The IFLA/FAIFE World Report is a living document and more countries will join the project in the future." For more, contact Alex Byrne at alex.byrne@uts.edu.au. (IFLA/FAIFE press release, 22 August)

EUROPEAN JOURNALISM FELLOWSHIPS IN BERLIN SETS 31 OCTOBER DEADLINE. Journalists from across Europe and the United States are invited to apply by 31 October for one of the European Journalism Fellowships from the Journalisten-Kolleg at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin, awarded this year for the third time. Participants must be able to leave their media organizations for two semesters and spend one sabbatical year at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin in the pursuit of knowledge and major research projects. The program starts in October 2002 and ends in July 2003. Highly qualified journalists, in both full and free-lance employment, with several years of professional experience, are entitled to apply. The most important element of the application is a proposal for a scientific-journalistic project, which is to be pursued in Berlin. For more, contact European Journalism Fellowships at e-mail ejf@kommwiss.fu-berlin.de or see http://www.kommwiss.fu-berlin.de/~ejf/E/.

ARMENIA
TELEPHONE CONNECTIONS TO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT CUT. Armenia's telecommunications monopoly ArmenTel on 16 August cut telephone lines to Armenia's Medzamor nuclear power plant in retaliation for the plant's unpaid 12 million dram ($21,000) phone bill, according to Arminfo on 16 August. One line to the office of the plant's director remains in operation, AP reported on 17 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

MEDIA ASK PARLIAMENT TO EXPEDITE DEBATE ON DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO MEDIA LAW. Some 20 independent Armenian media outlets on 15 August addressed an open letter to parliament Chairman Armen Khachatrian expressing concern at the legislature's failure to schedule a debate on draft amendments to Armenia's media law, Noyan Tapan reported. They noted that the Council of Europe has called for amendments in the existing law, which was passed in October 2000. In January, the Constitutional Court deemed some of its provisions anticonstitutional and several media outlets temporarily suspended broadcasting to protest it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

AZERBAIJAN
MEDIA WATCH GROUP: REPEAL OF NEW MEDIA COUNCIL. A leading media group, the International Press Institute (IPI) recommends the repeal of the Provision on the National Council of Press, TV, Radio and Internet; and the re-examination and amendment of the media law, including provisions that ensure, both formally and in practice, the independence of any body with regulatory powers over the media. Furthermore, IPI urges the government of Azerbaijan to avoid any state regulation in the area of media ethics and instead to encourage the development of a fully self-regulatory code of journalistic practice. (International Press Institute press release, 24 August)

COURT ORDERS CLOSURE OF NEWSPAPER THAT INSULTED ISLAMIC CLERIC. A Baku district court on 15 August ordered the closure of the newspaper "Etimad" for publishing an article deemed to be insulting to Azerbaijan's senior Muslim cleric, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukur Pashazade, Turan reported. The Muslim Religious Board of the Caucasus, which Pashazade heads, has also brought a criminal case for slander and libel against the paper's editor, Etibar Mansuroglu. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August)

DEFENSE OFFICIAL SAYS STATISTICS ON PEACETIME FATALITIES 'STATE SECRET.' In response to allegations that the number of noncombat deaths among army conscripts has risen dramatically, Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Ramiz Melikov told a press conference on 15 August that his ministry has accurate records of the number of such deaths, but will not make those records public as they constitute a state secret, Turan reported. Melikov also rejected as "an exaggeration" claims that bribery is widespread within the military. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August)

MUSLIM CLERIC DROPS COURT CASE AGAINST JOURNALIST. Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukur Pashazade has withdrawn the libel case he brought against Etibar Mansaroglu, the editor of the independent newspaper "Etimad," after Mansaroglu apologized for publishing an article that has been widely construed as a slur on the cleric, Turan reported. It is not clear, however, whether the Baku district court also reversed its ruling to close "Etimad." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

BELARUS
NO LIVE BROADCASTS FOR LUKASHENKA'S RIVALS. The Central Election Commission on 17 August confirmed its previous decision that television and radio broadcasts of presidential candidates' campaign speeches should be prerecorded, Belapan reported. The commission was responding to a request by incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's challengers -- Uladzimir Hancharyk, Syamyon Domash, and Syarhey Haydukevich -- that they be given the right to present their election platforms live on television and radio. The three candidates fear that their prerecorded election broadcasts may be aired in a censured or distorted form. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

FINANCIAL POLICE CONFISCATE 400,000 COPIES OF INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER. The State Committee of Financial Investigations on 17 August confiscated 400,000 copies of a special issue of the independent newspaper "Nasha svaboda" from the private printing house Magic in Minsk, Belapan reported. The committee said the issue was seized because the printing house had failed to prepare relevant financial documents. The "Nasha svaboda" special issue included materials about Uladzimir Hancharyk, the single democratic challenger to incumbent Lukashenka in the 9 September presidential ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER WARNED. The State Press Committee has issued a warning to the independent, pro-opposition newspaper "Nasha svaboda," Belapan reported on 20 August. The committee said information published in "Nasha svaboda" on 17 August that President Lukashenka accused Premier Uladzimir Yarmoshyn and presidential administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich of plotting against him is "incorrect." The committee added that "Nasha svaboda" will be banned for a period of three months if future actions require another warning. Finance police seized 400,000 copies of the 17 August issue of "Nasha svaboda." The editors have reportedly managed to distribute some 100,000 copies of the issue. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

CONCERN OVER KGB MOVES AGAINST PAPER. Article 19 expressed "alarm at the escalation of KGB activities undermining media freedom in Hrodno, particularly in relation to the non-state newspaper 'Pagonia.'" According to Article 19, in May, all employees of the paper "Pagonia" were summoned at least once to the anti-terrorism unit of the local KGB for questioning about an article in the newspaper's 10 May issue. This article included a statement by a hitherto unknown organization, the Council of Commanders of Belarusian National Self-Defense, which contained threats against members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union, due to meet in Hrodno later that month. KGB agents questioned the journalists on the source of the above statement, and on the paper's structure and operation. On 7 August, a KGB officer summoned "Pagonia" journalist Pavel Mazeika to his unit for an interrogation, during which the agent allegedly tried to recruit the journalist. Nikolai Markievich, "Pagonia's" editor, was summoned on 9 August to the regional deputy prosecutor's office and told that "Pagonia" was to be closed. (Article 19, 17 August)

BELARUSIAN ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) press center in Minsk provides access to reliable sources of information, provides materials for newscasts. thematic informational packets, and consults on the country's internal political situation. The BAJ press center also assists in the maintenance of TV crews, and correspondents of news agencies, radio and print media stationed in Minsk. The contact persons are Oleg Dashkevich (belcenter@gdf.ru) and Tatiana Ivanova (tatiana@gdf.ru).("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 20 August)

BOSNIA
OSCE LOOKS INTO BOSNIAN SERB MEDIA. A spokesman for the OSCE said in Banja Luka that his office and that of High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch are conducting an investigation of the Banja Luka daily "Glas Srpski" and the news agency SRNA, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The spokesman added that the investigators are concerned that the daily and the news agency are not independent of the Bosnian Serb authorities. Observers note that "Glas Srpski" and SRNA were founded during the 1991-1995 war as mouthpieces of nationalist leader Radovan Karadzic. Neither is particularly known in the journalistic profession for objectivity or reliability. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

ESTONIA
FORMATION OF NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY APPROVED. The cabinet on 20 August endorsed a bill under which state-owned Estonian Television and Estonian Radio would be combined into Eesti Rahvusringhaaling (Estonian National Broadcasting Company), BNS reported. The proposed merger is expected to reduce expenses as there will be a single management and more flexible utilization of funds. The law would not allow ads to be broadcast on the public TV station, which would be financed in part by charging fees for broadcast permits issued to private television stations. The law must still be approved by parliament. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

HUNGARY
MINISTER DENIES HAVING INFORMATION ON BRIBE ATTEMPTS. Secret Services Minister Istvan Demeter, speaking on television on 16 August, denied that the National Security Office has any information confirming the allegations of bribing attempts related to the modernization of Hungary's MiG fighter planes. Demeter said that the allegations, first published on the website "Stop!", are false and demanded that a correction be issued. "Stop!" Editor in Chief David Trencsani has refused to do so, and added that his informer does not work for the National Security Office, Hungarian media reported. Demeter said Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky must be "held responsible" for alleging that former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Peter Tufo had told the cabinet about the bribe attempt 18 months ago. On 17 August, the daily "Magyar Nemzet" reported that a Defense Ministry official received over 45 million forints (some $160,300) in slush funds in exchange for a letter of intent supporting the offer of a German-Russian consortium to modernize the MiGs, and added that Premier Viktor Orban had no knowledge of the affair. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

KYRGYZSTAN
JOURNALISM SOMETIMES PAVES WAY TO COURTROOMS. Journalists and their lawyers believe that writing accurate stories may entail litigation and even conviction. ("Central Asia Media Electronic Bulletin," 21 August)

FIRST INDEPENDENT TV STATION IN TALAS OPENED. Nazar TV, the first independent TV station in the Talas region of Kyrgyzstan, was officially opened and presented to the general public and international donors on 19 August. Until then, the Talas region, with a population of 230,000, had not had a source for independent local news. The new TV station already started re-broadcasting TV-6 from Moscow via satellite dish, and plans to produce its own local news and analytic programs. Nazar TV also started broadcasting Internews productions ("Door," the nationwide news exchange and "Open Asia," the Central Asian program) and will actively participate in the exchange of feature stories with other Kyrgyz and Central Asian TV stations in the near future. Financial support for Nazar TV came mainly from the U.S. Embassy Democracy Commission in Bishkek. Internews lawyers helped Sheralin Togombaev, the director of Nazar TV, register the station. The Internews network also provided Nazar TV with a transmitter. (Internews Kyrgyzstan press release, 19 August)

MASS MEDIA IN KYRGYZSTAN HAS VIRTUAL FUTURE. Since the traditional media do not meet the public's need for information, the Internet media may begin to fill the void. ("Central Asia Media Electronic Bulletin," 21 August)

MACEDONIA
U.S. TO FUND PEACE CAMPAIGN. "The Washington Post" reported on 17 August that the U.S. government plans to finance a $250,000 media blitz in Macedonia to promote the recent peace agreement. The radio, television, and press campaign will be coordinated with the office of President Boris Trajkovski, Reuters reported. The campaign may also use direct mailings to individual households from both major ethnic communities. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR UCK'S PROPAGANDA WINDFALL? "The Guardian" wrote on 21 August that "Skopje's bullying" of Western diplomats and journalists in recent weeks has given the UCK a "public relations coup." The daily suggested that Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski recently showed his opposition to the political settlement by "raging" against the UCK's political leader, Ali Ahmeti, when Ahmeti gave a press conference to announce that the UCK will disarm. The government tried to force the cancellation of Ahmeti's press conference. An unnamed "Western official" told the government: "I hope you are not about to send a helicopter gunship up to Sipkovica [where the press conference was]. This [press conference] was bound to happen, and as long as [Ahmeti] is supportive of the agreement, [his conference] is actually helpful." The daily noted that the Macedonian side has frequently tried to intimidate Western journalists and officials, "draining sympathy for the counterinsurgency, which was initially viewed as a justified crackdown against terrorists." Now, "Western journalists are more likely to report from Albanian areas, where they are welcomed." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

POLAND
OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROBE INTO 'WASTING' OF PUBLIC MONEY. The opposition coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union (SLD-UP) has requested that the justice minister investigate cases of "wasting public funds" and what it called the growing and unjustified "affluence" of Solidarity Electoral Action-affiliated officials, PAP reported on 17 August. Among others, the coalition cited the "financing of typically commercial undertakings such as that of TV Plus by state-owned companies." Government Undersecretary Andrzej Urbanski commented later the same day that the SLD-UP charges are a "grotesque concoction" and a "horrible case of public manipulation." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

TELEPHONE OPERATOR SUES TELECOMS GIANT. Niezalezny Operator Miedzystrefrowy (NOM -- Independent Interzonal Operator) has taken legal action against the state-controlled Telekomunikacja Polska (TP SA), demanding compensation of some 81 million zlotys ($19 million), PAP reported on 20 August. NOM said the demanded sum includes the estimated loss in profits that would have been made had NOM been active from 1 January 2001. NOM claims it could not start its services earlier because TP SA impeded negotiations on a contract between them. NOM started to provide long-distance services on 1 July of this year, thereby breaking TP SA's monopoly of the market. Last month, the weekly "Polityka" disclosed a "secret annex" to the sale of a 35 percent stake in TP SA in 2000. "Polityka" suggested that the government is responsible for delaying the demonopolization of Poland's telecommunications market. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

ROMANIA
BOOK TO SHOW 'TRUE FACE' OF EXTREMIST LEADER. A group of Romanian journalists have produced a volume entitled "The Anthology of Shame," Cornel Nistorescu, editor in chief of the daily "Evenimentul zilei," told journalists on 15 August, AP reported. The anthology includes poems Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor wrote in praise of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, "venomous stories" written by Tudor about other writers while he was serving the communist regime, as well as Tudor's attacks on his political rivals after the fall of communism. Nistorescu said the book was published in order to show Romanians -- 33 percent of whom supported the PRM leader's presidential candidacy in 2000 -- Tudor's "real face." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August)

RUSSIA
ASSISTANCE SOUGHT IN CASE OF DISAPPEARED REPORTER. In mid-May, 30-year-old Alexander Kirsanov, the main editor of "Kurganskye Vesti," left home to go to work, but never arrived at his office. Investigation continues, but little progress has been made. Kirsanov founded his newspaper in 2000 and the paper was often in opposition to the local authorities; the editor had received threats. The Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF) has begun an independent investigation into Kirsanov's disappearance and seeks assistance from private detective agencies and independent journalists. Contact the GDF at 201-44-20 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or by e-mail ruslan@gdf.ru. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 20 August)

NEW BOOK ON PUTIN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN RELEASED. On 17 August, General Nikolai Tarakanov presented his new book "Perelom" on Vladimir Putin's campaign for the Russian presidency, Interfax reported. The book describes Putin's meetings "with workers, toilers of agriculture, teachers and doctors, the creative intelligentsia, with scholars, and with students," Tarakanov said. It has more than 400 pages and has been issued in a modest initial print run of 1,000 copies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

SPS NEWSPAPER LAUNCHED. On 17 August, the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) launched its newspaper "Pravoe delo" with an initial print run of 30,000 copies, Interfax reported. "All 16 pages of the issue were devoted to the 10th anniversary of the victory over the coup plotters in August 1991," its chief editor, Aleksei Kara-Murza, told the news service. He added that almost half of this issue is devoted to events outside Moscow during the coup attempt. The newspaper is to be a weekly and there are plans to increase its print run to 50,000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

MORE CHANGES IN STORE FOR STATE MEDIA POLICY... President Putin met with Media Minister Mikhail Lesin and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin on 15 August, and according to a presidential press release, the three men discussed questions relating to the "future development of state strategy supporting the formation of the electronic and print media," "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. The daily also reported without reference to sourcing that the Media Ministry is preparing a new package of documents concerning state policy regarding the mass media that will be released in September. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

...AS QUESTIONS ARE RAISED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF TV-6. "Argumenty i Fakty" No. 33 reported that, according to a source identified only as being close to the presidential administration, TV-6 will be shut down in the future if it criticizes the presidential administration too much. "Financial irregularities" would be the pretext, according to the weekly. The weekly also reported that concerns about such a crackdown are what prompted Boris Berezovsky to give his 75 percent stake in the company to TV-6 General Director Yevgenii Kiselev. That way, if anything happens to the network, Berezovsky can claim that he is "an innocent victim of actions against free speech." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

COURT RULES ELECTIONS AT TV-6 LEGAL. The appellate division of the Moscow arbitrage court on 20 August confirmed as legal the decision of the annual assembly of stockholders of the TV-6 corporation to elect a new leadership of the channel. In doing so, the court rejected a challenge by LUKoil-Garant to a decision by the court of first instance on 28 June. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

COURT ORDERS ORT TO AIR RETRACTION ON LUZHKOV. A Moscow court on 20 August ordered ORT to air over the course of 10 days a retraction of its earlier report that Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was involved in the theft of 5,000 KamAZ trucks, Interfax reported. Luzhkov had filed suit to obtain such a retraction after the station broadcast that report in March 2000. The court on 29 June found for Luzhkov and ordered the station to pay him compensation. The latest order supplements that decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

ZYUGANOV COMPLAINS RUSSIA LACKS 'NATIONALLY ORIENTED' TV. Speaking in Minsk on 20 August, Russian Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov complained that his country lacks a "nationally oriented" television channel, Interfax-West reported. He said that on many Russian television channels, there is a distorted picture presented of "everything Russian, Slavic, and Belarusian." These stations, he said, "sow a sense of hopelessness and do not call attention to the good -- this is a means of psychological war, including against Belarus, which is particularly marked on the eve of elections for the president of Belarus." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

SMOKE RISES FROM OSTANKINO TV TOWER. Firefighters came to the Ostankino television tower on 21 August after smoke rose from the structure, but they discovered that the smoke was from a faulty electric system component and had not caused a fire, dpa reported. On 27 August 2000, three people died during a blaze there. Also on 21 August, the State Construction Committee Gosstroi said that the 2002 draft state budget provides funds to guarantee a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the rebuilding of the television tower. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

NIZHNII NOVGOROD COURT THROWS OUT SUIT AGAINST PAPER. In mid-August, a court in Nizhnii Novgorod considered the honor, dignity, and business reputation protection claim filed by the city administration and mayor of Dzerzhinsk against the paper "Dzerzhinets" and its reporter Konstantin Fokin, based on an article in the 1 July "Dzerzhinets," which, in the plaintiff's opinion, contained false and discrediting information. The court was asked to require the defendants to publish a repudiation, but their request was denied by the judge. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 20 August)

IRKUTSK ELECTION AFERMATH: SIX LIBEL SUITS. According to the news agency "Russia. The regions," after gubernatorial elections in the Irkutsk region, a total of six criminal lawsuits have been filed against the newspapers "Vostochno-Sybirskye Vesti," "Nasha Oblast," "Sybirskye Vesti," "President-2," "Vazhnaya Gazeta," and "Chernyi PR-Chistaya Pravda." According to the head of the legal support group for the election campaign of candidate Boris Govorin, these newspapers published discrediting information about them. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 20 August)

IS GAZPROM DRAGGING ITS FEET OVER EKHO MOSKVY SALE? Former Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin told RIA-Novosti on 15 August that Gazprom has not yet given its permission for the sale of a 9.5 percent stake in Ekho Moskvy. Gazprom-Media agreed last month to sell the stake to Yasin, who hosts a program on the station. According to Yasin, an inquiry regarding the shares was sent by Gazprom-Media to Gazprom on 2 August, but no answer has yet been received. According to the website polit.ru, Gazprom-Media press secretary Aelita Yefimova said that Gazprom-Media's request is still being reviewed. Yasin said that after he is sold the stake, he will transfer it to the workers' collective of the station. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August)

CHECHNYA RESUMES NEWSPAPER PUBLICATION. A mobile printing shop that was delivered to the Russian military base at Khankala in Grozny last week printed on 20 August the first issue of a new Chechen daily newspaper, "Vozrozhdenie" (Rebirth), ITAR-TASS reported. Until now all 11 Chechen newspapers, including the pro-Moscow government daily "Vesti Republiki," had been published in neighboring North Ossetia or Daghestan, which is not only more costly but meant the news they contained was less up to date. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

PAPERS CLOSE TO BRYANSK ADMINISTRATION RUN ANTI-SEMITIC ARTICLES. Two newspapers close to the regional administration of Bryansk regularly publish anti-Semitic articles, according to Lyudmila Komogortseva, regional monitor for the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry (UCSJ). The 27 July issue of "Bryanskaya Pravda" -- the official paper of the "Patriotic Bryansk" political movement, whose membership includes the governor and other top officials -- contained a typical example. An article entitled "Not Waiting for Aleksandr Nevsky" claimed that "My fellow Bryansk residents are upset that today in Russia, Jews are running things everywhere. In the Duma, practically every second member is a representative of this nationality. In the government it's the same. They are also the owners of oil and gas companies and the biggest factories." The article went on to praise Governor Yuri Lodkin and quoted an unidentified "comrade" who called for a return of tough rulers like Stalin and Aleksandr Nevsky. According to Komogortseva, the official regional administration's paper, "Bryansky Rabochy," also often runs anti-Semitic articles. (Union of Councils of Soviet Jewry press release, 22 August)

TEMPORARY BELARUSIAN PRESS CENTER SET UP IN MOSCOW. A temporary Belarusian press center began work in Moscow. The press center was established by the Glasnost Defense Foundation and will be in operation during the electoral campaign and the actual elections in Belarus. The circumstances in Belarus are so that the democratic forces of this republic are lacking an opportunity to receive and distribute the "whole information." The circulation of independent newspapers are insignificant in comparison with the circulation of the state media. Russian journalists, in turn, are restricted in their access to independent information from Belarus. The temporary Belarusian press center will assist the Russian news media in accessing objective information. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 20 August)

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION PROJECTS. The Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF) listserve today totals 892 recipients, including regional news media, Russian and international human rights activists, news agencies, the Russian government, and embassies. In the spring of this year, the GDF began publishing quarterly primary analytical reports. Every other week, the GDF publishes on media issues in "Novaya Gazeta;" see http://2001.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2001/59n/n59n-s18.shtml and http://2001.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2001/59n/n59n-s17.shtml. In the fall of 2001, the GDF plans to launch a quarterly print report to reach areas without electronic communications. In addition, the GDF hopes to start a weekly TV program. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest," 20 August)

BEREZOVSKY'S INTERNET OPERATOR DENIED ENTRANCE TO RUSSIA. Federal border guards refused last week to allow Demyan Kudryavtsev to enter Russia at Moscow's Sheremetevo airport and forced him to fly back to France, NTV.ru reported on 17 August. The border guards gave no reason for their action, but Kudryavtsev serves as the coordinator of Internet operations for exiled Russian magnate Boris Berezovsky, and NTV.ru suggested that Kudryavtsev was kept out of the country because of that connection. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

HALF OF SCHOOLS NOT EQUIPPED WITH COMPUTERS. Education Minister Vladimir Filippov told reporters on 15 August that as Russia's 20 million schoolchildren head off for school in the fall, many schools are not outfitted with physics or chemistry equipment, and 50 percent of schools still do not have a single computer, ITAR-TASS reported. Filippov also noted that wages for school teachers will be doubled between November and December. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August)

SPS, KPRF PROVIDE COMPUTERS TO BIROBIDZHAN SCHOOLS. The Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) has provided two computer servers to the schools of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Birobidzhan, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 20 August. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) plans to do the same. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

PERSONAL COMPUTER SALES SURGE. Sales of personal computers surged in Russia during the second quarter of 2001, rising by 38.3 percent compared with the same period last year with total sales worth $465 million, "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 August, citing a survey by research company Gartner Dataquest. An analyst with the firm told the daily that home computer sales rose almost 60 percent but still accounted for only 8 percent of all purchases. Contributing to the PC sales boom were purchases by the Russian government, which is among other things funding a project to bring computers into rural schools. A competing research firm, IDC, disputed Gartner Dataquest's analysis and argued that the growth in computers sales was only 5.7 percent higher in the second quarter compared with the second quarter of 2000, according to the daily. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 August)

RUSSIA, CHINA TO WORK ON SPACE COMMUNICATIONS. Russian Communications Minister Leonid Reiman told ITAR-TASS in Beijing on 21 August that he has agreed with Chinese officials to expand cooperation between the two countries in the areas of satellite communications and other information fields. He added that the two sides have agreed to set up a special subcommission on communications and information. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

'SALE OF THE CENTURY' TO BE REHELD. The Property Relations Ministry confirmed on 16 August that Svyazinvest is not included in the list of companies that will be privatized by the government next year, Interfax reported. The sale of a 25 percent stake minus two shares in the company had been under consideration, but was recently dropped from the government's plan due to the lack of a consensus approving its sale, according to the agency. The government's draft privatization program will be discussed in a cabinet session on 21 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

SERBIA
HACKERS THREATEN TELECOM SERBIA AFTER PRICE RISE. If Telecom Serbia does not drop down to the old price and duration of telephone impulses, hackers threatened to block its communication lines by 17 August. Branimir Peric, director of the Directory for Information Technologies for Telecom Serbia, explained that the first attack had come from Italy, and that they had requested Italian authorities to locate the source of attacks and to check with their providers what it had been all about. Peric added that Telecom Serbia had not brought any criminal charges. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 11-17 August)

TELEKOM SRBIJA ON INTERNET ATTACK. Telecommunications monopoly Telekom Srbija issued an official statement on 15 August giving more details about the attack on the Internet capacities of this organization. The denial of service (DoS) attack had lasted for about three hours. Although all the end users felt the effects of that attack, the hackers did not fully succeed in their aim of disabling Telekom Srbija's Internet service or breaking into its computers. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 11-17 August)

TELCO MINISTRY WILL NOT SUPPORT THIRD PRICE RISE. The Ministry of Telecommunications responded on 15 August to Telekom Srbija director Dragor Hiber's announcement of a third price rise for telecom services by explaining the ministry would not support this third price rise because they feel it would be too big a financial burden on Telekom Srbija's customer base, an anonymous source told the daily "Glas Javnosti." ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 11-17 August)

APPEAL FOR END TO POLITICAL PRESSURE ON MEDIA. The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) work group for the protection of journalists appealed to the politicians not to exert pressures on the media in their public debates. In its 13 August statement, the NUNS said that along with the responsibility to inform the public comes the responsibility to report information from sources in which the media have confidence. NUNS also encouraged the media to search hard for information, so as to avoid becoming the instruments of politics. The meeting of the work group for journalists' protection was held to discuss the scandal ensuing from media reports on the murder of former secret policeman Momir Gavrilovic. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 11-17 August)

DAILY FACES CRIMINAL CHARGE. On 15 August, Republika Srpska Finance Minister Milenko Vracar brought criminal charges as a private citizen against the Belgrade-based daily "Glas Javnosti" for defamation in a Belgrade court. Vracar is asking for 30 million Yugoslav dinars in compensation for publication of a series of articles, including an 1 August article claiming that Republika Srpska Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic would dismiss Vracar in September. Titled "Ministers Mind Their Own Business," the article contends that Vracar paid 500,000 German marks to be selected as finance minister. The Banja Luka daily "Nezavisne novine" reported that this article's authorship, signed by journalist Dragan J. Vucicevic, was in question. Vucicevic stressed that he had never written anything about Vracar. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 11-17 August)

CONDEMNATION OF JOURNALIST'S ARREST. On 15 August, ANEM made a public statement condemning the arrest and police interrogation of the editor in chief of the daily "Blic," Veselin Siminovic, and its head editor for domestic politics, Dusko Vukajlovic. ANEM demanded an emergency adoption of the new media act, which would legally provide for the right of journalists to protect the sources of their information. ("ANEM Weekly Media Update," 11-17 August)

TAJIKISTAN
WEEKLY ASIA PLUS CELEBRATED FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. Last May, the first private information agency in Tajikistan, Asia Plus, celebrated its fifth anniversary. ("Central Asia Media Electronic Bulletin," 21 August)

UKRAINE
PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SAYS KILLING OF JOURNALIST ALEKSANDROV NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. Mykhaylo Potebenko on 16 August said there was no high-level political motivation behind last month's killing of Ihor Aleksandrov, the director of a regional television company in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, AP reported. Potebenko added that the attack on Aleksandrov was apparently prompted by local dissatisfaction with his journalistic activities. Potebenko visited Slavyansk with Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov and Security Service Deputy Chief Yuriy Vandin after President Leonid Kuchma criticized the investigation of the Aleksandrov case as inefficient and ordered top law-enforcement officials to take over the probe. "We are sure there will be a positive result [in the investigation], but I cannot say it will be tomorrow," the agency quoted Potebenko as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

SEVASTOPOL JOURNALIST DETAINED. A joint press statement on 8 August by the Sevastopol MVD and the Security Service of Ukraine (the former KGB) claimed that law-enforcement agencies on 28 July had prevented mass violence against ethnic minorities by skinheads through mass arrests, according to various Ukrainian media sources. An 8 August report by the UNIAN news agency quotes the official press statement: "According to information from competent agencies, members of this gang on Russian Navy Day intended to beat people of non-Slavic nationality [and] to do this, members of the 'Skinhead' organization were to come [to Sevastopol] from Yalta, St. Petersburg and Kharkov." Leaflets calling for violence against ethnic minorities and containing fascist symbols were also confiscated from the young extremists. Among the detained alleged skinheads was Yevgeny Rybkin, a reporter for the paper "Melitopolskie Vedomosti." Police claim that he has long-standing contacts with skinheads and was wearing a black shirt with the word "Skin" on it, but Rybkin counters that the shirt has nothing to do with skinheads and claims that police beat him. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry press release, 18 August)

UZBEKISTAN
LEGAL CLINIC FOR JOURNALISTS TO OPEN IN UZBEKISTAN. In Uzbekistan, a special legal clinic to assist journalists and the media settle legal disputes is due to start to work in September. ("Central Asia Media Electronic Bulletin," 21 August)

UNCERTAIN LEGAL STATUS FOR UNION OF INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS. The Union of Independent Journalists of Uzbekistan acts without registration, despite official harassment. ("Central Asia Media Electronic Bulletin," 21 August)

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