Saturday, November 28, 2015

OSCE Issues Discussion Paper On 'Propaganda'


The media-freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has issued a discussion paper on propaganda and media freedom, repeating her assertion that propaganda is "an ugly scar on the face of modern journalism."

Representative Dunja Mijatovic noted on November 25 that her office had devoted much time in recent months to addressing the root causes of propaganda, particularly in connection with the conflict between the Ukrainian central government and Russia-backed separatists.

Mijatovic said that "ignorance, hate, hostility, and other consequences of propaganda are imminent threats to journalism and free media and we need to put more resources in fighting these threats."

The paper issued on November 25 is a contribution to a discussion of these issues, she said. 

Among other things, the discussion document calls for the "abolition of government-run media."

Russia Tags Kovalyov's NGO As 'Foreign Agent'


Russia's Justice Ministry has placed the nongovernmental Human Rights Institute on its official register of organizations "operating as foreign agents."

The moved was announced on the ministry's website on November 20.

The institute is headed by former State Duma Deputy Sergei Kovalyov, a respected Soviet-era dissident and political prisoner who was the protégé of Soviet human rights activist Andrei Sakharov. Its director is longtime rights activist Valentin Gefter.

According to the institute's website, the organization "carried out investigative and educational work in the area of human rights" and "works closely with federal and regional ombudsmen and the presidential commission on civil society and human rights."

The previous day, the Justice Ministry included the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a media-protection NGO, on the "foreign agents" list.

Dunja Mijatovic, the media-freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called that move "a serious obstruction to the important work media NGOs carry out" in Russia.

Belarusian Man Sentenced To Death On Murder Charges

А Belarusian court has sentenced a man to death for two fatal robberies, the second death sentence this year to be handed down in the only country in Europe that still uses it. 

Judges in the court in the western city of Hrodno found Ivan Kulish guilty on November 20 of killing three saleswomen during two robberies in 2013 and 2014. 

Kulish, 28, refused to testify during the trial and didn't make any remarks after the verdict. 

In March, a court in the southeastern city of Homel sentenced a man to death for the murder of a young woman.

According to rights groups, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in the ex-Soviet republic since the early 1990s.

The European Union on November 20 urged Belarus to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as "a first step towards its abolition."

"The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” the EU said in a statement. 

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Belarusian Opposition Leader, Activist Fined

RFE/RL's Belarus Service

MINSK -- A Belarusian court has fined an opposition party leader and an activist for holding unsanctioned rallies.

The court in Minsk on November 20 fined the leader of the opposition United Civic Party, Anatol Lyabedzka, $500 for organizing an unauthorized rally in front of the KGB building in the capital on October 29. 

Lyabedzka pleaded not guilty and said the goal of the gathering was to commemorate victims of the Stalinist purges.

The Minsk court also fined opposition activist Vyachaslau Siuchyk $600 for taking part in a separate unsanctioned protest against alleged plans to set up a Russian military base in Belarus.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been running Belarus with an iron fist since 1994.

Earlier this month, he was inaugurated for the fifth time following an election that was judged by Western monitors to be neither free nor fair.

OSCE Denounces Stigmatization Of Russian Media NGO


The OSCE's representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, has deplored the decision of Russian authorities to label the nongovernmental organization Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF) as a “foreign agent.”

In a November 20 statement, Mijatovic said GDF had been “working tirelessly to protect and advocate for the rights of journalists in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States region” over the past 25 years. 

She described the November 19 decision to include GDF in the register of “foreign agents” as a “serious obstruction to the important work media NGOs carry out and a threat to media pluralism in the Russian Federation.”

A law adopted in 2012 requires any NGO that receives funding from abroad and engages in political activity to register as a "foreign agent."

Amendments introduced to the law last year allow the Justice Ministry to forcefully add NGOs to the list of "foreign agents."

UN Committee Criticizes Iran’s Human Rights Record

The UN General Assembly's human rights committee has criticized Iran for cracking down on dissent and for its increased use of the death penalty.

The committee on November 19 approved a nonbinding resolution drafted by Canada that expresses serious concern about rights violations in the Islamic republic.

It demanded that Tehran halt "widespread and serious restrictions, in law and in practice, on the right to freedom of expression, opinion, association, and peaceful assembly" of human rights activists and government critics.

It also noted the "alarming high frequency" of the death penalty in Iran. The continuing executions of minors puts Tehran in violation of international accords it has signed, the resolution said.

The resolution, which was passed in a 76-35 vote with 68 abstentions, will now be sent to the UN General Assembly for consideration.  

Iran's deputy ambassador to the UN, Gholam Hossein Dehghani, called the document "a selective and politicized distortion of facts."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

Russian Rights Ombudsman Criticizes Treatment Of Navalny's Brother

Russia's rights ombudsman says the jailed brother of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny urgently needs dental surgery outside the penitentiary where he is being detained.

Ella Pamfilova said on November 17 that she had requested the state agency monitoring Russia's penitentiaries to allow Oleg Navalny to have a surgery in a decent clinic.

Pamfilova said she also asked the agency to check whether Navalny's recent placement in solitary confinement and other disciplinary measures against him in the penitentiary in the Oryol region were legal. 

Navalny is serving a 3 1/2-year jail term after a court in December found him and his brother, Aleksei, guilty of defrauding a French cosmetics company.

Aleksei Navalny, the key driving force behind the 2011-12 mass protests in Moscow, received a suspended sentence in the same case.

Both brothers rejected the charges as politically motivated.

Based on reporting by and Interfax

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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