19 September 2001, Volume
WORLD WATCHES BELARUS WITH PITY AND SCORN.
Many international periodicals on 7 September carried reports and comments on the situation in Belarus in connection with the 9 September presidential election. Below are some titles carried by select publications: "The Economist" -- "A Rotten State"; "The Wall Street Journal Europe" -- "'Elections' in Europe's Last Dictatorship"; "The Moscow Times" -- "Lukashenko's Rival Had No Chance"; "Financial Times" -- "A Sorry State"; "The Guardian" -- "Reign of Terror in a Soviet Time Warp"; "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" -- "Dankbar, ueberhaupt waehlen zu duerfen (Grateful For Being Allowed To Vote at All)"; "Neue Zuercher Zeitung" -- "Alexander Lukaschenko laesst sich waehlen (Alyaksandr Lukashenka Has Himself Elected)"; "Die Welt" -- "Lukaschenko: 'Mir ist es egal, ob jemand die Wahl anerkennt (Lukashenka: 'I don't care whether anybody recognizes the ballot or not')." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September)
MINISTER SAYS INCREASED PHONE CHARGES ILLEGAL.
The increased per-minute telephone charges introduced by the Greek-owned Armenian telecommunications monopoly ArmenTel have not been approved by the Armenian government and therefore have no legal force, Armenian Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian said in Yerevan on 6 September, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Manukian said the Armenian leadership may take legal action against ArmenTel for violating the terms of its operating license if it tries to enforce the new charges. The Greek telecommunications giant OTE insists that under the terms of the 1998 deal whereby it acquired ArmenTel it is entitled to increase tariffs unilaterally. Justice Minister David Harutiunian said on 6 September that the dispute is likely to be referred to an international adjudication court. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September)MOST POPULAR TV CHANNELS.
A poll carried out by the marketing agency Khorurd showed that Armenian Public TV leads national broadcasters with 25 percent of viewership, followed by Armenia-TV (13 percent), Prometei (8 percent,) and by "A1+" and "Shant" (each with 4 percent). Among Russian channels, ORT has a 13 percent market share and RTR has 11 percent. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)INDEPENDENT MEDIA SUGGEST AMENDMENTS TO BROADCAST LAW.
The Yerevan Press Club reported that the heads of 20 private TV and radio broadcasting companies appealed to parliamentary speaker Armen Khachatryan, expressing concern about delayed amendments to the broadcast law. The amendments were submitted in January 2001 to the parliamentary committee on science, education, culture, and youth issues. The authors of the amendments assume that the National Committee for Broadcasting, based on the current broadcast law, may make decisions which further hamper the development of the independent broadcasting media. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)I.T. COMPANIES� REVENUES GROW.
The National Statistical Service announced that companies which provide Internet and e-mail services earned about $746,000 during the first half of 2001, an increase of 10.5 percent over the same period last year. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)
NEW JOURNALIST ORGANIZATIONS.
Journalists Musallim Gasanov and Shakir Yagubov have established an NGO to assist journalists in making the transition to written Azeri. The new organization is called "July 22" (National Day of Journalism) in memory of the day in 1875 when "Ekinchi," the first national newspaper, appeared. Journalist Khalid Niyazi founded the League of Azerbaijan Independent Journalists to promote pluralism in the press. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)
JOURNALIST RELEASED FROM PRISON.
Human rights activist and journalist Valery Shchukin was released from jail on 12 September, after serving three months for attempting to force his way to Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau's news conference in January, Belapan reported. Shchukin told journalists that he spent 20 days of his term in a punishment cell for what the prison administration said was his "negative influence" on inmates. Shchukin said he was instructing his inmates on their legal rights. Shchukin commented on his stay in the lockup: "They took away all warm clothes and ordered me to put on light prison overalls.... I slept for about 40 minutes and then felt shivery, legs and hands becoming stiff. I walked for 40 minutes to warm up. I woke up five-six times every night." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)ELECTION DAY: TIGHT RESTRICTIONS ON INTERNET ACCESS.
As of the night of 8 September, the records of some independent media and NGOs were deleted from the DNS zone BY, including .bdg.by, .home.by, .irex.minsk.by, .unibel.by, article19.by, domash.by. In the afternoon of 9 September, some IP web addresses located abroad were blocked at the Belpak router, which, as a state-owned company, holds the monopoly for foreign channels. As a result, web users in Belarus could not gain access to certain websites, including several which provided special coverage of the Belarusian elections, such as www.svaboda.org, www.charter97.org, www.racyja.pl, www.goncharik.org, and www.vybor.org. By early 10 September, the information blockade was lifted and the BY domain functioned normally again. The domain BY is supported by the State Center for Information Security of the Belarus Security Council (http://www.tld.by). Security service officials denied any role. (Internews Russia, 10 September)PAPERS ARE ORDERED TO PRINT PRO-LUKASHENKA INTERVIEW.
BELTA, the state news agency, distributed on 31 August the following release: "To the attention of the editors of regional newspapers." The Main Department of Socio-Political Information of the Presidential Administration recommends that regional newspapers reprint an interview with the writer Ivan Shamyakin, published in the newspaper 'Zvyazda' on 30 August in which the author supported Lukashenka for president." (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)PAPER REFUSES TO PUBLISH ELECTION-RELATED AD.
"Svobodnoye Slovo" (Free Word), a newspaper founded by the Rogachyov district executive committee, refused on 9 August to publish a private ad with an announcement that an independent election monitoring group had been set up. The paper's editor explained that this ad was banned by the paper's founders. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)
GOVERNMENT REJECTS PUBLIC ACCESS TO SECRET POLICE FILES.
The Social Democratic government on 12 September rejected a Senate proposal to declassify and make public files kept by the former communist secret police, or StB, CTK reported. Ministers concluded that such a step would be an infringement on personal rights and a newly enacted data-protection law. Limited access is already granted to individuals who wish to view their own files, but right-wing parties have been pushing for complete access to all files for anyone over the age of 18. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)REPUBLIC WINS ARBITRATION CASE AGAINST U.S. MEDIA MAGNATE.
The Finance Ministry on 5 September hailed what it described as a "legal victory" against U.S. multimillionaire Ronald Lauder, AP reported. A statement by the ministry said a London arbitration court has unanimously rejected damage claims by Lauder, who filed a $500 million complaint against the Czech government for losses suffered from his investment in the private Nova TV network. He said the Czech government failed to adequately protect his investment. Lauder also sued his former partner, Nova TV Chairman Vladimir Zelezny, to whom he lost control over Nova TV in 1999. A spokesman for Lauder's Central European Media Enterprises company refused to comment on the ruling, saying the company has not yet received it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September)TV MAGNATE TESTIFIES IN FRAUD INVESTIGATION.
A Prague district court on 12 September began hearing testimony from the embattled head of TV Nova, Vladimir Zelezny, over a roughly $30 million transaction that his former partners say was aimed at defrauding them, CTK reported. The Czech court is acting at the request of authorities in Liechtenstein, where one of the parties to the transaction, the Astrona Foundation, is based. The Czech daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" has reported that Zelezny appeared to be using the foundation to evade possible debts to Central European Media Enterprises, which helped establish the country's most popular commercial television station. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September)
JOURNALIST�S MURDER STILL UNSOLVED.
The murder in July of Georgii Sanaya, a popular journalist and anchor of the Rustavi-2 TV channel, remains unsolved. In early August, police detained suspect David Gelashvili, but no evidence has been found. At President Shevardnadze�s request, FBI experts arrived in Tbilisi to assist in the investigation to provide general guidance to the Georgian police. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)MEETING OF GEORGIAN AND ABKHAZIAN JOURNALISTS.
A conference of Georgian and Abkhazian journalists and scholars was held 20-24 August in Sochi to discuss resolution of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, as well as the media's role. The conference concluded that close contacts between journalists and public figures promoted cooperation and that the media is now less biased in its reporting on the conflict. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter).
Some 1,373 media outlets currently operate in Kazakhstan, including 186 newspapers and magazines in Kazakh and 526 in Russian. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)TV VIEWERSHIP.
According to polls carried out in Almaty, ORT-Kazakhstan is the most popular TV channel, with almost half of Almaty's viewership. Non-governmental commercial channels -- Rakhat-TV, TAN, 31st Channel, and KTK -- lag far behind. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)
PARLIAMENT CONSIDERS 'DECRIMINALIZING' SLANDER.
On 13 September, the Legislative Assembly (lower chamber of parliament) began consideration of two draft amendments to the criminal code which would remove libel and slander from its provisions. President Askar Akayev presented two draft amendments to that effect to the parliament. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz News, 13 September)I.T. COUNCIL SET UP.
President Akayev decreed the establishment of a Council for Information Technologies. A working team operating on its basis is to develop a draft National Strategy for IT Development in the Kyrgyz Republic. The team comprises representatives of the state control bodies, academics, ISPs, and representatives of NGOs. (European Media Institute, August CIS Media Newsletter)GOVERNMENT APPROVES INFORMATION PROGRAM.
The Kyrgyz government has approved an information program that will be submitted to the Security Council for approval in October, Transport and Communications Minister Kubanychbek DjumAliyev told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 11 September. Some 5 million soms ($100,000) have been allocated for its implementation next year. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September)
NEW BROADCAST COUNCIL PROMISES TIGHTER REGULATIONS.
Some 40 Moldovan broadcasters could lose their licenses due to arrears to the Audio-Visual Coordinating Council (CCA), according to an announcement at the first meeting of the newly-elected CCA in August. The CCA chairman announced that all Moldovan broadcasters will be monitored for compliance with the Broadcast Law and legal action will be taken against violators. He also said that the CCA will fight information piracy and propose amendments to the Broadcasting Law to protect Moldova's information space. Currently, there are 179 broadcast license holders in Moldova, reported Moldpres. (Moldova Media News, 10 September)OFFICIAL WEBSITE TO BE REORGANIZED.
Moldovan central authorities will expand the country's official website at www.moldova.md. At its August meeting, a special working group announced that the website will be enlarged and its design improved. The site, to be administered by the official MoldInfoNet, will permit better interaction between content providers and site visitors, reported Curier Media. (Moldova Media News, 10 September)TV MOLDOVA LAUNCHES SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL NEWSCAST.
A daily newscast featuring developments in the former Soviet republics was launched on State TV Moldova channel in August. "Commonwealth News" is broadcast following a cooperation agreement, which was recently signed between Teleradio Moldova State Company and inter-state MIR company. (Moldova Media News, 10 September)
EDITOR RESIGNS OVER LIBEL VERDICT.
The editor in chief of the Podgorica daily "Dan" has resigned after receiving a five-month suspended jail sentence for libel. Vlado Asanin described the court verdict as "the end of free journalism in Montenegro." He had been sued by businessman Stanko "Cane" Subotic after Dan reprinted articles from the Zagreb weekly "Nacional," which labeled Subotic the Balkans' "chief mafia boss, responsible for several murders." Asanin told reporters he had decided to resign to protest the court's decision. Dusko Jovanovic has been appointed the paper's acting director. ("ANEM Media Update," 1-7 September)
MEDIA FOCUSES ON TERRORIST ATTACK.
The Russian media on 12 September were filled with stories about the terrorist attacks on the United States. Some of the stories, as in "Kommersant-Daily," suggested that similar things could happen in Russia. Others, in the same paper, suggested that the U.S. had trained the terrorists involved. And still a third theme, in "Komsomolskaya Pravda" for instance, suggested that the U.S. should now be more understanding of Russia's fight in Chechnya. But most were like "Vremya novostei" and carried headlines like "The World Has Collapsed." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)NEW BOARD ELECTED AT ORT.
A general shareholders meeting of Russian ORT television on 8 September elected a new 11-member board, including President Putin's personal press secretary, Aleksei Gromov; Deputy Property Minister Aleksandr Braverman; First Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii; and North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov, ITAR-TASS reported. Among the non-governmental representatives are filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov, Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovskii, and publisher Vitalii Tretyakov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September)ORT TOPS TV RATINGS IN ALL CATEGORIES.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 8 September reported that ORT television now leads the other four nationwide channels in all ratings categories. The survey was conducted by Gallup Media. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)INTERFAX, AVN COMBINE OPERATIONS.
The Russian news companies Interfax and the Agency for Military News (AVN) officially announced on 12 September that the two will combine resources to produce Interfax-AVN, Interfax reported. Interfax will continue all of its current services, but the new combined agency will draw on its military experts as well as those of AVN to double the number of news stories covered by AVN to 60-70 a day. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)UNITY LEADER SUPPORTS 'COMMON SENSE' CENSORSHIP.
Vladimir Pekhtin, the leader of the pro-Kremlin Unity faction in the Duma, said that "only censorship of textbooks can save children," and that he supports "common sense censorship and parental responsibility" in the preparation of such materials, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 8 September. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)MEDIA MOST SHAREHOLDERS VOTE TO LIQUIDATE COMPANY.
A meeting of the shareholders of Media-MOST on 10 September voted to liquidate the company as the courts have ordered, Russian and Western agencies reported. Company spokesman Dmitrii Ostalskii said that the company does "not consider the court decision fair, but that as law-abiding citizens, the shareholders carried it out." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)ALFRED KOCH STARS IN 'GREED.'
Alfred Koch, the head of Gazprom-Media, took on a new role on 9 September when he hosted NTV's new game show "Greed," "Vedomosti" reported the following day. After defeating media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, the paper said, Koch did not know what to do next and has apparently decided to try his hand as an entertainer. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)FORMER 'NEZAVISIMAYA' EDITOR SAYS BEREZOVSKII PEOPLE WANT TO KILL HIM.
Vitalii Tretyakov, the founder and former chief editor of "Nezavisimaya gazeta" said that associates of embattled magnate Boris Berezovskii have threatened his "physical liquidation" if Tretyakov does not give up his rights to the paper, "Vremya novostei" reported on 8 September. But the deputy director of Berezovsky's LogoVAZ groups, Yulii Dubov, denied the charge and said he spoke with Tretyakov about protecting the former editor's interests after Tretyakov left the paper, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the same day. Dubov suggested that Tretyakov is "inventing" threats in order to generate sympathy for his position. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September)IRKUTSK GOVERNOR MAKES INAUGURATION EXCLUSIVE EVENT.
An inauguration was held on 7 September for newly re-elected Irkutsk Governor Boris Govorin amid reports that his political opponents and members of the press were banned from the ceremony. According to the website polit.ru, a deputy chairman of Irkutsk Oblast's legislature along with other local deputies who have been critical of Govorin were not allowed to attend the inauguration. At the same time, journalists from leading media outlets such as RIA-Novosti, ITAR-TASS, RTR Television, and several newspapers that have also been critical of Govorin were denied accreditation to cover the ceremony. Deputy Governor Tatyana Ryutina reported that too many people had wanted to attend the ceremony. Meanwhile, a correspondent for "Nezavisimaya gazeta" who did attend the event reported that leaders from neighboring regions such as Chita, Buryatia, and Tuva and Oleg Sysuev of the Congress of Municipal Organizations, Soviet cosmonaut Aleksandr Polishchuk, and head of the Federation Council's apparatus Vladimir Nikitov were in attendance. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September)MEDIA MINISTRY EXTENDS BAN ON LIPETSK TV STATION BROADCASTS.
The Media Ministry has extended its suspension of the broadcasting license of the embattled TVK television company in Lipetsk Oblast from the original 10 days to one month -- until 11 October, the website polit.ru reported on 11 September. According to the website, the ministry considers the new leadership of the television station illegitimate. Journalists at the station have barricaded themselves in their offices, refusing to vacate them, and charging that the station's takeover is linked with upcoming gubernatorial elections. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September)SARATOV RESIDENTS SAY AUTHORITIES BEHIND FALSE REPORTS IN MEDIA.
A poll conducted in Saratov Oblast this summer found that 30 percent of respondents now trust local media, up from 10-12 percent three years ago, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 7 September. But four out of 10 said that local officials currently engage in feeding false information to the media. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September)PLAYBOY'S RUSSIAN PUBLISHER ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL TACTICS.
Norasco Publishing, which issues "The Russian Journal," announced on 10 September that it has filed a complaint with Russian anti-monopoly authorities against the Dutch-run Independent Media company that publishes Russian versions of "Playboy," "Cosmopolitan," and a variety of other Russian- and English-language print publications, AP reported. Norasco said Independent Media has used illegal tactics to monopolize the market, and that Norasco may file suit in American or European anti-trust groups. Yelena Miashnikova, the director of Independent Media, said there is "no substance" to the complaint. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)AMERICANS TOP LIST OF WORLD-CLASS BRAINWASHERS.
An article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 8 September cites a study published by the U.S. journal "Vanity Fair" concerning the 50 business leaders who have the most influence on public attitudes around the world. The Russian daily noted that the top three of those who "have been brainwashing the world" are Americans: Steve Case of AOL, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Sumner Redstone of Viacom. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)PUTIN POINTS TO 'UNIFYING STRENGTH' OF RUSSIAN LANGUAGE.
In a message to a conference of Russian specialists in Poland on 12 September, President Putin said he is especially pleased by the interest shown in Poland and elsewhere in the Russian language because of the "unifying strength" of the language, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)IVANOV SURVEYS RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY IN NEW BOOK.
On 6 September, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov presented his new book, "The New Russian Diplomacy: Ten Years of the Country's Foreign Policy," Russian agencies reported. The book's various chapters survey the course of Russian relations with various countries and organizations around the world. Among Ivanov's observations are that the U.S. and Russia bear a particular responsibility for maintaining the peace, that Russia has a historical role to play in the Middle East, that China is a major priority, and that Russia is focusing its primary attention on the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September)SCHOOLS RECEIVE TEXTBOOK ON EMIGRE WRITERS.
The Prosveshchenie publishing house has just issued a handbook for teachers on Russian emigre writers, the "Ex Libris" supplement to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 September. Entitled "From Merezhkovskii to Brodskii," the book was prepared by literary scholar Oleg Mikhailov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)SPENDING ON ADVERTISING TOPPED $1 BILLION IN 2000.
Officials of the Russian Advertising Council announced that spending on advertising rose 45 percent between 1999 and 2000 and topped $1 billion in the latter year, "Vremya MN" reported on 12 September. But according to a Gallup Media poll cited by the paper, only 30 percent of Russians like advertising, and most are unwilling to admit that it has any positive effect on them. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)LICENSE TO SHOW TV SHOW SOLD ABROAD FOR FIRST TIME.
Nona Agadzhanova, deputy general producer of TV-6, said on 11 September that her station has sold the license to show one of its programs to a foreign broadcaster, Interfax reported. She said that the purchaser was Georgian television and that the price was "peanuts," but noted that the sale represents an important breakthrough and will be repeated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September)FIVE MILLION CELL PHONE USERS IN RUSSIA.
Yurii Pavlenko, the first deputy communications minister, told Interfax on 7 September that there are now 5 million cell phone users in Russia, twice the number of 18 months ago. He predicted that 45-48 million Russians will use cell phones by 2010. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September)RUSSIAN MEDIA BULLETIN.
The European Institute for Media presents the August issue of its bulletin on media developments in the regions of the Russian Federation. The newsletter contains information on news, government, law, conferences, and new technology. This project is partly funded by the European Commission. To receive the newsletter in Russian write to Ljudmila von Berg at email@example.com. (European Institute for the Media, 12 September)
KOSTUNICA ACCUSES RADIO B92 OF FABRICATION.
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has accused Radio B92 of broadcasting "unauthentic" transcripts of his talks with Zoran Djindjic during the extradition of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The story was broadcast "hour after hour," Kostunica told TV Politika on 4 September, before being pulled from both the radio and the website, according to Kostunica. Radio B92 has insisted the conversation was aired only after a reliable source within the Serbian government had confirmed its authenticity and that the story ran only once at 5pm. The transcript can still be found in the Radio B92 website archives. The story was taken from a report in the Belgrade daily "Nedeljni Telegraf," which claimed that during a telephone conversation with the Serbian premier, Kostunica had consented to Milosevic's extradition. ("ANEM Media Update," 1-7 September)INVESTIGATE SESELJ, SLAIN JOURNALIST'S BROTHER DEMANDS.
On 3 September, Jovo Curuvija, the brother of murdered journalist Slavko Curuvija, called on the Serbian government to investigate the possibility of Vojislav Seselj�s involvement with Slavko's murder on 11 April 1999. Seselj is the leader of the Serbian Radical party and a former deputy prime minister in Serbian government. Responding to Seselj's claim that the murder was committed by Branko "Jorga" Jeftovic and Zoran "Canda" Davidovic, Jovo Curuvija said that it was logical that Seselj knew who had committed the murder, because at the time he had been in the leading position in the former government, which Jovo accused of having been the instigator and the organizer of the crime. ("ANEM Media Update," 1-7 September)WORKERS PROTEST CONDITIONS AT RADIO TELEVISION OF SERBIA.
Representatives of the Executive Council of the Workers� Union Nezavisnost from Radio Televisions Beograd, Novi Sad, and Pristina demanded that the Serbian government improve the poor finances and work conditions throughout the state-run media organization. "The average salary of the employees in Radio Television of Serbia cannot provide for half of the average family's everyday expenses in the course of a month. There are some employees on the payroll who appear only to collect their salaries and others who simultaneously work for some rival institutions and with some privately-run companies," the Workers� Union "Nezavisnost" claimed. ("ANEM Media Update," 1-7 September)
PRESIDENT FINISHES WORK ON NATIONAL 'SPIRITUAL CODE.'
Saparmurat Niyazov has completed the "Rukhname," the "spiritual constitution" for the Turkmen people on which he has been working for the past three years, and the text was sent to a publisher on 10 September, Interfax reported, quoting a member of the presidential staff. Calling for the compilation of such a volume in 1998, Niyazov said it should serve as a comprehensive code of moral conduct based on Turkmen national tradition. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)
The scandal surrounding the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, along with the tapes which revealed possible involvement by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, "has exposed -- or confirmed -- a whole culture of virtual politics, where a public world of gesture and image-making masks an alternative reality of private intrigue and complicity," asserts an article in the "East European Constitutional Review." ("East European Constitutional Review," Spring/Summer 2001)'BLACKMAIL AS A TOOL OF STATE DOMINATION.'
The taped conversations of Ukrainian President Kuchma and his cronies reveal "widespread and systematic use of blackmail by the organs of the state as a way to establish political control," according to an article in the "East European Constitutional Review. ("East European Constitutional Review, Spring/Summer 2001)INTERIOR MINISTER WARNS OPPOSITION OVER ANNIVERSARY OF JOURNALIST'S MURDER.
Yuriy Smyrnov told Interfax on 5 September that police will react with "tough measures" if the opposition resorts to "provocation" during its actions on 15-16 September to mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. "I do not want another 60 of our employees to suffer for nothing," Smyrnov added, referring to scuffles between riot police and demonstrators on 9 March. The anti-presidential National Salvation Forum intends to hold a march commemorating Gongadze in Kyiv on 15 September. The following day, Ukrainian journalists plan to gather in Kyiv and set up a Journalistic Ethics Commission in order to react to defamatory media campaigning in the upcoming parliamentary elections. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September)WIFE APPEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION INTO JOURNALIST'S DEATH...
Myroslava Gongadze, the wife of slain journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, has appealed for an international investigation into the death of her husband, Interfax reported on 12 September. "As long as such an independent investigation is not ordered and carried out, and the charges against you are not refuted, I will consider you to be guilty of the destruction of my husband," Myroslava Gongadze said in an open letter to Ukrainian President Kuchma. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September)...AS DOES REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS.
In a 13 September statement, the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) noted that "though thirteen journalists have been assassinated in Ukraine in the last five years, the Georgy Gongadze case marked a crucial turn. The murder of this young journalist, who denounced the regime's offences, served as a wake-up call to civil society in the country and led to the awareness abroad of the seriousness of the threats to individual liberties in Ukraine." The RSF statement also observed that, "The disclosure of senior state officials' likely involvement in the journalist's disappearance has shaken President Leonid Kuchma's rule for months [and] the Ukrainian state apparatus, the courts and police, have aggressively impeded the search for the truth. The Public Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of the Interior have raised their opposition to any serious investigation into the events surrounding the journalist's disappearance and murder." The RSF, joins with Heorhiy Gongadze's wife and mother in calling for the creation of an international commission of inquiry into the journalist's disappearance and murder. The independent commission of inquiry should include Ukrainian judicial and police authorities, international and Ukrainian experts, representatives from organizations responsible for monitoring Ukraine's efforts to respect its international commitments (Council of Europe, OSCE, United Nations Commission on Human Rights), representatives from Ukrainian and international human rights organizations, representatives of the Gongadze family, and the members of the Ukrainian parliament's commission of inquiry. (Reporters without Borders, 13 September)GONGADZE'S MOTHER SEEKS TO INDICT PRESIDENT FOR ABDUCTION, MURDER.
Lesya Gongadze has appealed to Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko to officially charge President Kuchma, presidential administration chief Volodymyr Lytvyn, and former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko with the abduction and killing of her son, independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Interfax reported on 11 September. Lesya Gongadze reminded Potebenko that although the Prosecutor-General's Office has had "enough time and possibilities" to disprove the allegations of former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko that Kuchma, Lytvyn, and Kravchenko are implicated in the killing of the journalist, it has thus far failed to do so. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September)MEDIA BULLETIN.
The European Institute for Media released its August issue of its online bulletin on media developments in Ukraine in the "Ukrainian Media Bulletin." The bulletin contains information on media news, media and government, media law, media conferences, and new media technology. To receive the bulletin in Ukrainian contact Svetlana Selyutina at firstname.lastname@example.org (European Institute for the Media, 7 September)