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Watchdog Says Russian Prosecutors Persecuting Journalists

(RFE/RL) 1 February 2006 -- A U.S.-based media watchdog said today that Russian prosecutors are abusing libel laws to persecute journalists in at least two Russian regions.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the criminal investigations against reporter Mark Aron in the central Russian region of Mari-El, and Arseny Makhlov in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad were being carried out at what the group termed "a politically sensitive time" -- before local and regional elections.

In a statement, the committee said prosecutors had started a libel investigation against Aron, editor in chief of the newspaper "Vo," following a 2004 article that said a local official participated in a drunken brawl.

It also said that Makhlov, founder of the weekly newspaper "Dvornik," had been targeted in a libel investigation in what Makhlov alleges was retaliation for articles criticizing a local prosecutor and a closed fraud case.


Olga Romanova And REN-TV

Olga Romanova And REN-TV

Olga Romanova (courtesy photo)

Just when it seemed impossible for Russian television to become any less controversial, the new owners of REN-TV announced on November 28, 2005, that they were pulling popular and respected journalist OLGA ROMANOVA off the air for at least three months. REN-TV is considered by many to be the last remaining independent television stations with a national reach. Romanova has vowed to fight the station's decision, saying she will take the case to court...(more)

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Interview: REN-TV Editor In Chief Discusses Resignations

Interview: REN-TV News Editor Explains Her Resignation