9 February 2001, Volume
PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR JOURNALISTS IS ONLINE.
(Paris: Reporters sans frontiers/UNESCO, 1998). Languages: English and French. Keywords: handbook, journalists, media, press freedom, freedom of expression, human rights monitoring, humanitarian law, guidelines for reporting, Declaration of Rights and Obligations of Journalists, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. http://erc.hrea.org/Library/journalists/rsf98.html ("Human Rights Education Newsletter," 18 January)COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEDIA ACTIVITIES.
A link to a website with a list of planned activities for the Council of Europe from January through April: http://www.humanrights.coe.int/media/ or contact Mario Oetheimer at the Media Division: email@example.com http://www.humanrights.coe.int/media/
AMENDMENTS TO BROADCAST LAW INTRODUCED.
On 30 January 2001, three professional organizations -- the Yerevan Press Club, Internews Armenia, and the Journalists Union of Armenia -- submitted their proposed amendments to the new Armenian broadcast law to the relevant committee in the Armenian parliament, which will also consider expert legal analysis that points out certain contradictions between the Armenian Constitution and legislation. The committee will also take into account other proposed amendments submitted by leading independent TV and radio companies. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 30 January)NEW TV CHANNEL TO PROMOTE WORK.
The well-known entrepreneur Hrant Vardanian, head of the company Grand Tobacco, has announced in a statement plans to form a TV company called Hairenik ("Motherland") that will be on UHF and promote the theme "Let us work!" ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 27 January -- 2 February)CHANGED STATUS OF TWO GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPERS.
The daily newspaper "Hayastani Hanrapetutiun," founded in 1990 by the Armenian parliament, halted publication on 12 January so that it could register. Starting in February, the paper will be printed by a joint-stock company, Ashot Aghababian, its editor in chief told the Yerevan Press Club. Thus, "Hayastani Hanrapetutiun" will be reformed along the same lines as the state-owned Russian-language weekly "Respublica Armenia," first established by the Armenian parliament in 1990. The newspapers will be issued independently, with separate editorial staffs, though with the same founders: the Armenian President's Office, the Armenian National Assembly, the Armenian government, and the Department of Information of the Armenian government will each have a 25 percent share. Unlike "Respublica Armenia," "Hayastani Hanrapetutiun" will remain a daily (except weekends) with a 5,000 print run. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 27 January -- 2 February)PUBLICATION OF 'ZHAMANAK' HALTED.
Since 27 January, publication of the "Zhamanak" daily has been on hold so that it could reregister, as Ara Galoyan, editor in chief of "Zhamanak," told the Yerevan Press Club. Now a joint-stock company must be created to re-establish the daily. Meanwhile, according to Galoyan, the paper's editorial office will move to another building. The paper is expected to reappear in mid-February. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 27 January -- 2 February)NEW MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS PRESS SECRETARY.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian appointed Dzyunik Aghajanian as press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Office and the head of the Public Relations Department on 1 February. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 27 January -- 2 February)
POLICE BEAT TWO REPORTERS.
During a police raid of a Baku market on 6 February, a reporter for the "Ekho" newspaper, Namiq Ibrahimov, was beaten by police. They took his digital camera and tried unsuccessfully to take the film before returning it. Ibrahimov was then pushed into a police car, but, after a high-ranking policeman intervened, he was released, according to Deputy Editor Nair Aliyev of "Ekho" (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 31 January). In another incident, reported by the "Etimad" newspaper, editor in chief Etibar Mansuroglu was attacked by a policeman. Witnesses later recognized the policeman. The journalist suffered throat and facial injuries and a concussion. A possible connection between the incident and the publication's criticism of the State Road Police is being investigated, the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan reported on 6 February.CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION FILES SUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION PAPER.
The secretary of the Central Election Commission brought a suit against the editor in chief of the paper "Eni Musavat" for an article that reported that he received a $30,000 bribe for helping to annul some results of the 5 November parliamentary elections. The accusation was rejected as "absurd" since the elections results were annulled allegedly due to a demand by the majority of the ward's election commission. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 31 January)U.S. AMBASSADOR VISITS INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER OFFICE.
U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson visited the offices of newspaper "525" on 31 January, expressing his government's support for free and independent media. Rashid Majid, editor of "525," said that despite his paper's economic difficulties, it is now a leading independent newspaper. Wilson promised that the embassy will monitor problems within the Azerbaijani press and said that he planned to continue meeting with representatives of the country's independent media. See http://www.egroups.com/group/azerturk ("Azerbaijan Bulletin," 1 February)JOURNALISTS PROTEST INCREASED VAT ON NEWSPRINT.
A group of Azerbaijani journalists picketed the State Customs Committee on 31 January to protest the recent 100 percent increase in VAT on imported newsprint, Turan reported. They accused the Azerbaijani authorities of trying to bankrupt independent newspapers and said they will conduct further protest actions unless the increase is rescinded. Turan reported on 1 February that the Azerbaijani Commodity Exchange has announced as auction of newsprint to be held the following day, for which the initial bid is fixed at 3 million manats ($627) per ton, plus a currency exchange duty of 1 percent. The registration fee for participation in the auction is 30,000 manats. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February)
IFJ PROTESTS DRAFT FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world's largest journalists organization, with over 450,000 members worldwide, protested on 26 January a draft law as curbing public access to information in Belarus. The IFJ said it is "a confused and complex regulation that will diminish people's right to know and amounts to a new assault on media freedom." The IFJ member organization in Belarus, the Belarus Association of Journalists, has also protested the draft law. While the draft law states that citizens have the right of access to information, later clauses limit this right. In the legislation, special authorities would be set up to deal with so-called and vaguely defined "harmful information" which could be used to stifle legitimate media criticism. "Harmful information" includes "lowering a person's mind to a more primitive level through information," news from "destructive religious organizations," and stereotypes. State authorities are empowered to "detect and counteract...information attacks" on "critical information facilities in...state administration, military...and other vital spheres." Only Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is authorized to review or overturn decisions made under this law. (International Federation of Journalists, 26 January)
TV MANAGEMENT SAYS JANUARY WAGES WILL NOT BE PAID.
Acting Czech Television manager Vera Valterova and acting Financial Manager Jindrich Beznoska, both of whom were appointed by Jiri Hodac during his brief tenure as TV director, on 2 February informed the staff that their wages for January will not be paid because of the continued labor action. The letter said salaries will be paid only to those employees who will openly distance themselves from the strike, CTK reported. TV Union head Antonin Dekoj described the letter as "psychological blackmail." Also on 2 February, Jan Matejka, a legal expert from the State and Law Institute, wrote to the striking staff at Czech Television that Valterova's mandate as acting manager has in fact ended with Hodac's resignation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February)TV NOVA BECOMING POLITICAL FORCE...
TV Nova is not only the most-watched television station in the Czech Republic, but is now a serious political force, CTK reported citing the 2 February issue of "Mlada fronta Dnes." Freedom Union (US) Senator Jan Ruml told the paper that in 1998, when his party had more public support than the Civic Democrats (ODS) of former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, TV Nova Director Vladimir Zelezny offered to cooperate with the U.S., but "when voter support fell his interest did too." Then, after Klaus and Milos Zeman of the Social Democrats (CSSD) signed the "opposition agreement" that put the minority CSSD in power and gave the ODS a significant say in government decisions, "Zelezny told me...'You mustn't be surprised that in this situation I have signed an agreement with both men." Critics claim that since then Nova has been loyal to the ODS. "[That] has been clear in the last year," said Ruml. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February)...BUT IMPLICATED AS FUNNEL FOR RUSSIAN MONEY.
"Zemske noviny" reported on 2 February that Czech police have begun investigating loans for the operation of the television stations Nova and Prima as part of the embezzlement case involving IPB bank. The papers also say that money from Swiss accounts belonging to people connected to Russian media magnates was transferred through IPB to accounts for financing operations at Nova. This money was then transferred to companies that have nothing to do with television production at Nova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February)
ARTICLE 19 STATEMENT ON DRAFT SPEECH LAW.
In line with its obligation as a member of the Council of Europe to harmonize legislation with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Georgian parliament is currently considering a draft law on Freedom of Speech. Article 19 expresses its support for the current draft law, which is in line with international law. In addition to general protection of the right to freedom of speech and freedom of information, this draft includes four provisions on defamation which are positive and set a relatively high standard. Defamation laws are commonly used in former communist countries, to stifle public debate and to shield public figures from criticism. If this law were to be passed without amendment, Georgia would be setting a precedent amongst its neighbors. (ARTICLE 19, 1 February)
AUTHOR OF 'SHYMKENTSKAYA MAFIA' TRIED IN ABSENTIA.
RFE/RL reports from Almaty that on 5 February, Temirtas Tleulesov, author of "Ordaly Zhylan" and "Shymkentskaya Mafia," was convicted in absentia of hooliganism and sentenced to two years imprisonment by the Shymkent city court. Tleulesov's wife told RFE/RL by phone on 6 February that Tleulesov left home on 3 February on his way to Almaty but his current whereabouts are unknown. Shymkent officials have declared a nationwide search for the author. On 9 December 1999, Tleulesov was heavily beaten by bank security guards in Shymkent and then accused of hooliganism. In his book "Ordaly Zhylan" (Nest of Vipers), Tleulesov wrote about corruption and organized crime among top officials in South Kazakhstan Oblast. An expanded version of his book was later translated into Russian under the title "Shymkentskaya Mafia." (RFE/RL Kazakh News, 6 February)'SOLDAT' EDITOR IN CHIEF TO STAND TRIAL.
Ermurat Bapi, editor in chief of "SolDat" newspaper, will stand trial in the Almaty District Court on 7 February. Another well known Kazakh dissident, Karishal Assanov, will also reportedly be a defendant. Bapi and Assanov are officially accused of insulting the honor and dignity of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. On the eve of Nazarbaev's 60th birthday last summer, "SolDat" printed Assanov's critical article, but that issue of the newspaper never reached Kazakhstan. En route from the printer in Siberia -- since all printers in Kazakhstan refuse to print the paper -- the entire print run was impounded by Kazakh customs police. (RFE/RL Kazakh News, 6 February)PRIVATE TV CHANNELS SUSPEND BROADCASTS TO PROTEST DRAFT MEDIA LAW.
Private television stations in Qaraghandy, Aqtobe, Shymkent, Oskemen, Ekibastuz, and Temirtau suspended broadcasts for one day to register their objections to the draft media law currently under discussion in the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 31 January. Further discussion of that draft was scheduled for 31 January but has been postponed. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February)'KARAVAN' DENIES 'POST' STORY...
RFE/RL reports from Almaty that "Karavan Weekly" on 2 February denied a 25 January story in "The Washington Post" on corrupt investments in democratic projects in Kazakhstan. The "Karavan Weekly" and the Franklin Publishing House is now owned by Alma-Media Press House, which allegedly has links to President Nazarbaev's family. Officials at Alma-Media have denied the U.S. paper's allegations. This is the first reaction of a Kazakh newspaper to an article printed in a U.S. periodical since 1991. ("RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 2 February)...'INVESTMENT IN FREEDOM IS FLUSH WITH PERIL.'
The Central Asian American Enterprise Fund -- a U.S.-funded venture capital institution -- invested $3 million in 1995 to set up a printing house, known as the Franklin Publishing House, and the "Karavan" newspaper in an effort to assist the country's democratization process and to support the emerging free press of Kazakhstan. For the complete text see http://www.caspian.ru/cgi/article.cgi?id=242 ("The Washington Post," 26 January)NEW HEAD OF ALMATY TV STATION.
RFE/RL reports that Oleg Kviyatkovsky was appointed general-director of Almaty's "31 Kanal" Television channel on 1 February. It is likely that the programs of that TV channel will also be changed in the near future, RFE/RL reports from Almaty. (RFE/RL Kazakh News, 2 February)
LEGAL CONSULTATIONS ONLINE.
The Internews Network presents a new online legal consultation service. Professional lawyers will provide legal advice on various issues related to the work of broadcast stations. For inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or for confidential inquiries contact email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 5 February)
RFE/RL TO PARTICIPATE IN ETHNIC INTEGRATION BROADCASTS.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Thomas A. Dine announced in Riga on 31 January that the Latvian Service of RFE/RL will begin weekly 30-minute programs in Russian. He said the company had taken this step at the request of the Latvian government and in support of Riga's program to integrate all those living in that country. He noted that it enjoyed the full backing of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all U.S. international broadcasting. In a speech to the Latvian Transatlantic Association, Dine said that such programming will contribute to Latvian efforts to "bridge the divide" between Latvians and Russian-speaking residents by ensuring that both groups learn about each other from a common source. (RFE/RL Press Release, 31 January)
PARTY LEADER SUES NEWSPAPERS.
Iurie Rosca, leader of the Popular Party Christian Democratic, on 5 February announced he is suing three Moldovan newspapers for "calumny." The three publications -- "Comunist," "Tineretul Moldovei," and the Russian-language "Delovaya gazeta" -- last week reproduced documents allegedly proving that Rosca had been a KGB informer under the communist regime. Rosca said the documents were forgeries "produced on the orders of precisely those clans whom I bothered." He said that behind the three publications hide "those political formations that were utterly opposed to our attempt to make public the activities of the KGB as a political police." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February)
ELECTION CAMPAIGN MEDIA RULES AGREED.
The Montenegro parliament's working group on media regulations for elections agreed on 1 February to rules for election presentations in the media during the campaign for the extraordinary elections on 22 April. Candidates and parties will be given air-time on media controlled by the Montenegrin parliament. State media will provide information on the activities of parties in accordance with the regulations but will be barred from presenting promotional information in current affairs programs. Members of the working group emphasized that media must present information fairly and objectively in order to provide a democratic atmosphere for the elections. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 2 February)OSCE TO MONITOR MEDIA BEFORE ELECTIONS.
The OSCE will monitor the media in the pre-election period in Montenegro, the head of the OSCE Mission to Yugoslavia said on 27 January. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 28 January)
FOREIGN MINISTER TO BE FIRST TO LOOK INTO COMMUNIST SECRET SERVICE FILES.
Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has received the first application form to look into Poland's communist-era secret service archives, Polish media reported on 31 January. Under a bill on the National Remembrance Institute passed in 1999, all Poles are eligible to apply for their personal files, but the institute will open them only to people it considers victims of repression. They will be able to find out the names of people who informed on them. Bartoszewski, a 78-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp and a former prisoner of the communist regime, is among 20 Poles expected to get early access to their files because of old age and their prominent roles in the anti-Communist opposition. Bartoszewski said he is "not going to do anything" with any information he finds in his file, AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February)BROADCASTING SPHERE TO INCLUDE 'VOLUNTARY SECTOR.'
The parliament has amended the law on broadcasting by introducing the institution of a "voluntary sector" broadcaster, that is, non-commercial and non-private, PAP reported on 1 February. Under the amendment, a voluntary sector broadcaster promotes charity work and moral values, cultivates traditions, and "respects the Christian system of values, taking universal ethical values as the basis." Such broadcasters are not allowed to broadcast advertisements or receive payments for the dissemination of their programs. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February)
JOURNALISTS UNDER ATTACK.
The Glasnost Defense Fund reported that 16 journalists were killed in Russia in 2000, that there were 36 cases of censorship during that period, that 26 journalists were prosecuted, and that 11 journalists were illegally dismissed, "Versty" reported on 3 February. Meanwhile, "Izvestiya" reported on 5 February that the apartment of one of its photographers had been broken into last week in such a way as to suggest more than a simple robbery. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February)PASKO LEGAL DEFENSE FUND.
The Glasnost Defense Fund (GDF) reports that the second trial in Vladivostok of the embattled environmental journalist Grigorii Pasko will begin in the city's military court in late March or early April. His case materials consist of over 20 volumes; in the next few weeks, two lawyers and an assistant must prepare for his legal defense. During his first trial, a year and a half ago, the GDF paid for Pasko's four lawyers thanks in part to an Open Society Institute grant for legal protection of journalists. Since that grant has expired, the GDF is asking for $16,000 for the Pasko Legal Defense Fund. Contributions can be made to: "Charity Aid for Pasko's Defense," JCB Mass-Media Bank, Zubovski blvd, 4, Moscow, 119021 Russia. Name of account: Glasnost Defense Foundation 40703840600000040030 Correspondent bank information: Israel Discount Bank of New York, 511 Fifth Avenue New York, N.Y. 10017, USA SWIFT IDBYUS 33 XXX Bank's account number with correspondent bank: 00-7555-5. (Glasnost Defense Foundation, 5 February)MOSCOW MOVING AGAINST MEDIA FREEDOM.
President Vladimir Putin is imposing ever more severe restrictions on media freedom in Russia, thereby reversing a major achievement of the Yeltsin era, Ann Cooper, director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told RFE/RL this week that "whenever Putin talks about press freedom, it is clear to me that what he really wants to see is press censorship." Russian journalists' willingness to compromise integrity to support Yeltsin's re-election in 1996, damaged their popularity and today, CPJ finds that many Russians share Putin's belief that the state should restrict the media. Cooper said that CPJ was especially concerned about three issues: that the news agency Moscow set up to provide information on the Chechen war mainly hinders reporters from getting accurate news; that at least three Russian journalists were killed due to their work in 2000 and Russian officials seldom bring those responsible to justice, and that Kremlin pressure on Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky threaten the key independent media outlets in Russia. Cooper called on Western governments and human rights organizations to keep up the pressure on Russian authorities. (RFE/RL Press Release, 2 February)DIVIDED ON MEDIA FREEDOM.
According to a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Center, 42 percent of Russians think the media have sufficient freedom, 18 percent think media outlets have too much, while 33 percent think that the level of media freedom is not yet sufficient. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January)NEW MEDIA LEGISLATION SLAMMED AS REPRESSIVE.
A group of deputies from the Duma committee for information policy have introduced a series of amendments to the law on the media that immediately triggered criticisms from their own faction leaders. The proposed amendments would regulate the activities of news agencies and transfer the right to give out licenses for television and radio broadcasters to the federal Media Ministry, "Segodnya" reported on 29 January. According to "The Moscow Times" on 30 January, the amendments would also make it easier for prosecutors to construe criticism of authorities as open calls for riots. The amendments would also eliminate the section of the current law that allows journalists to protect their sources and gain access to areas closed to civilians. Deputy head of the Yabloko faction Sergei Ivanenko has harshly criticized the bill, charging that Russians "may one day wake up and find themselves in another country" as insignificant amendments, which reduce the rights of journalists and of free speech, are introduced one right after another, according to "Segodnya." Unity faction leader Boris Gryzlov distanced his group from the legislation despite the fact that two of the five deputies who introduced the amendments were members of his faction. He told reporters that most of the amendments "could be regarded as the promotion of narrow lobbying interests or as a technical mistake during the work on the legislation," according to "Vremya MN" on 27 January. ... ("RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 2 February)GOVERNMENT MOVES TO TAKE CONTROL OF ORT...
The government moved to take complete control of ORT television after acquiring it via a sale of 49 percent of its shares by Boris Berezovsky to Roman Abramovich, who was acting for the state, Russian agencies reported on 5 February. The government has nominated replacements for the five members of the ORT board it had not nominated. And it notified journalist Sergei Dorenko of his dismissal, who denied the legality of the move, saying he had been informed of it "two or three weeks ago." In another media move, the chairman of the TV-6 board, Eduard Sagalaev, announced that he has tendered his resignation, Interfax reported on 5 February. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February)...AS GUSINSKY DENOUNCES PUTIN.
In an interview in "Kommersant-Daily" on 5 February, media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky said that President Putin will suffer politically if he moves to close NTV. Gusinsky said "Putin believes that he is fooling everyone...But he is not so much fooling everyone as the West is pretending to believe him. Today, NTV amounts to only a drop in the bucket of overall deception, but a drop that could become critical for him when Western politicians stop deluding themselves." In other remarks, he said that Russians are unlikely to come to the defense of NTV as Czechs had of their television last month "because when tanks went into Prague [in 1968] people tried to stop them with their bodies. Because they didn't have a Stalin. Because they were Europe and we unfortunately were always Asia." And he concluded that "Putin will be remembered not as a man who united the Russian lands but as a destroyer. Not because he is a bad man, but because he simply does not understand." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February)GUSINSKY FIGHTS EXTRADITION.
Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky told a Spanish court on 31 January that he will fight extradition to Russia because he said he does not believe that "Russian justice is independent," Reuters reported. The case will now be heard before a panel of High Court justices in Madrid. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February)GUSINSKY FRAUD INVOLVED MORE THAN $1 BILLION.
Russian Prosecutor-General Ustinov said on ORT that Media-MOST head and current fugitive in Spain Vladimir Gusinsky had obtained more than $1 billion through fraud, AFP reported on 30 January. Ustinov said that the authorities had tracked more than $200 million to foreign banks and identified large sums given to employees as interest-free loans. During his talk on ORT, Ustinov denied that there is any political motive behind the investigation of Media-MOST's NTV station. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January)MOSCOW ASKS SPAIN TO SEIZE GUSINSKY'S PROPERTY.
Deputy Prosecutor General Kolmogorov said on 1 February that the Russian government has formally requested that the Spanish authorities seize the property of Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky, Russian agencies reported. Gusinsky currently faces an extradition hearing in Spain. But Media-MOST spokesman Dmitrii Ostalsky said that Gusinskii rents rather than owns the mansion in Sotogrande where he has been living and thus there is nothing to seize. Meanwhile, in Moscow, officials moved Media-MOST financial chief Anton Titov from the Butyrka prison to the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center so that he can receive medical treatment, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February)EU AMBASSADORS MEET WITH NTV REPORTERS.
The ambassadors of the European Union countries hosted a meeting on 31 January with journalists of embattled NTV, Reuters reported. NTV General-Director Yevgenii Kiselev said he viewed the meeting as a "gesture of support." In other comments, Kiselev said that "all NTV's leading journalists will leave if there is a hostile takeover [of the station] by the state." In other developments, a Russian broadcasting official said he expects that U.S. media magnate Ted Turner will in fact invest in NTV in the near future, possibly in conjunction with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Interfax reported. And the Moscow arbitration court on 31 January postponed by mutual consent a tax case against Media-MOST. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February)NTV PREPARES LAST DITCH DEFENSE.
In the face of mounting government pressure, the NTV board has threatened to issue more shares in order to prevent Gazprom from taking control, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 3 February. The paper said that Media Minister Mikhail Lesin had urged Gazprom to try to organize an extraordinary board meeting first. But on 5 February, NTV will hold a general shareholder meeting in Gibraltar to consider electing a new board, Interfax reported on 5 February. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February)MEDIA CASES CONTINUE.
A Moscow court on 2 February postponed until 28 February a hearing on Media Minister Mikhail Lesin's libel suit against NTV and Media-MOST deputy chief Igor Malashenko, Interfax reported. Another Moscow court delayed until 4 April its hearing on a suit by the tax inspectorate seeking to liquidate NTV. Meanwhile, a Media-MOST suit against Deutsche Bank and Gazprom continued in a London courtroom, ITAR-TASS reported. Media-MOST seeks to change an agreement between the bank and the Russian gas giant on sale of foreign shares. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February)COURT RULES AGAINST KISELEV.
A Moscow city court ordered NTV anchorman Yevgenii Kiselev to publicly retract his statement on the air that Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov had received a luxury apartment from Pavel Borodin as a bribe, according to RIA-Novosti on 30 January. But the court refused to order Kiselev to pay any damages to Ustinov. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 5 February)NTV LOSES IN COURT.
A Moscow court upheld a complaint by Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov that NTV had made unfair comments about Ustinov's relations with Union of Russia and Belarus Secretary Pavel Borodin, Russian and Western agencies reported. NTV General-Director Yevgenii Kiselev said he might appeal the case to the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. Meanwhile, Russian agencies reported, prosecutors continued to question Media-MOST chief accountant Mikhail Kalashnikov, even as they transferred arrested Media-MOST chief financial officer Anton Titov to another cell. More details continued to leak out about President Putin's 29 January meeting with NTV staffers. "Segodnya" reported that Putin had met with the chief prosecutor immediately before the session and that Putin had failed to convince his audience that his objections to the station are exclusively financial. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January)AUDIO, VIDEO, COMPUTER DISK DEALERS IN MOSCOW REQUIRED TO REGISTER.
According to the 30 January "Moskovskii komsomolets," all sellers of audio and video recordings and computer disks in the city of Moscow will now have to register with the city administration. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January)HOW JOURNALISTS GET PAID.
A well-known Russian journalist writing in "The Moscow Times" compared how salaries are paid at state TV (RTR) and at NTV. At RTR -- then presided over by the current Press Minister Mikhail Lesin and current Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi -- 90 percent of salaries were paid under the table, thereby avoiding taxes -- while at NTV the entire salary went by direct bank deposit and relevant taxes were paid. The writer said that RTR -- but not NTV -- had "a whole price list for preparing hidden advertising with separate rate scales for a simple story or a full interview." Interview "charges" "ranged from $10,000 to $22,000, depending on broadcast time and channel." "The Moscow Times" article concludes, "The message from the prosecutor and his Kremlin bosses, then, is clear enough. Use double accounting if necessary. Use all the 'envelopes' you want. Avoid taxes. But don't put anything on paper. You'll have no problems." ("The Moscow Times," 30 January)OBJECTIVE LOANS?
An opinion poll done by Ekho Moskvy radio station shows that 53 percent of 1,303 people interviewed think that journalists cannot be objective if they gets loans from employers, while 47 percent disagree. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 5 February)SPORTS REPORTER ATTACKED BY SPORTSMEN.
A Novosibirsk press conference was held on 5 February with Vitalii Didenko, sports reporter of the paper "Sport-Ataka," who had been attacked. According to Didenko, team members beat him after he wrote a sharp attack on the Novosibirsk hockey team Sibselmash, the Novosibirsk Press Club reported. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 5 February)MOSCOW IGNORES LONDON PROTEST ON SPY BOOK.
Moscow's Narodnyi variant publishing house printed a book by former MI-6 agent Richard Tomlinson despite requests not to do so from the British government. Tomlinson, who worked for the British agency in Iran, Moscow, and Kosova, in the 1990s, has compromised the operations of Western intelligence services and given the names of agents in his book. But many in London are especially outraged by his suggestion that MI-6 was involved in the death of Princess Diana. MI-6 officials claim that Russian Foreign Intelligence paid Tomlinson $50,000 for a book that could be used to retaliate for the revelations of KGB officer Vasilii Mitrokhin in a book published in Britain. Several Moscow papers, including "Komsomolskaya Pravda," have plans to serialize Tomlinson's memoirs. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 5 February)MEDIA AND MARKETING SEMINAR.
The Mass Media Center of St. Petersburg State University will hold its sixth summer seminar on media and marketing from 25 June to 6 July for scholars, educators, journalists, and students. The working languages are English and Russian; registration until 10 June 2001. For more information, contact ruschin@DR2709.spb.edu, mmc@DR2709.spb.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org.
INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS CONDEMN THREATS.
The Independent Journalist Association of Serbia on 30 January condemned threats from the head of the Radical Party of the Left on the reporting of the recent protest at the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry. The association especially condemned Sinisa Vucinic's threats to journalist Aleksandar Crkvenjakov. The association called on the judiciary and the police to put on trial those suspected of committing crimes. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 31 January)INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION DEMANDS ENQUIRY.
The International Federation of Journalists in Brussels requested on 26 January that Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica launch a public enquiry into the NATO bombing of the Serbian State Television premises in 1999, Tanjug reported. The journalist organization issued this request following Hague Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte's statements that the issue of NATO's responsibility for the bombing is not a closed file. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 27 January)FILIPOVIC TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MEDIA.
The daily "Danas" and AFP journalist and former political prisoner Miroslav Filipovic told the daily "Blic" on 27 January that he had accepted Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic's offer to be responsible for media in the Serbian government. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 28 January)DJINDJIC ANNOUNCES SHAKE-UP OF STATE TELEVISION.
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic announced today that he would soon deal with the problem of Radio Television Serbia. In the next parliament a bill will be introduced to impose a TV tax, Djindjic said, and people could choose which TV channel they would pay taxes for. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 31 January)STATIONS OPERATING WITHOUT LICENSES CANNOT TAKE PART IN TENDER.
The telecommunications law is currently being drafted, Federal Telecommunications Minister Boris Tadic said. Tadic repeated that another important law, on radio broadcasting, would be on June's agenda, adding it would be drafted in line with European standards. Tadic also stressed that "those television and radio stations that broadcast without having any licenses will disqualify themselves for the next tender, because they have proved themselves incapable of respecting basic rules," B92 reported. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 1 February)TV B92 SHOULD GET A NATIONAL LICENSE.
"I think the incumbent regime should secure greater independence, that is, competition, which would hence secure the independence of the media," National Bank of Yugoslavia Governor Mladjan Dinkic said. Dinkic spoke at an international conference titled "Where Is The Bulldozer Heading? Revolution, Transition, and Democracy in Serbia," held Wednesday in Belgrade. "I find it very unsatisfactory that, for example, television B92 has not been given a license for the national program, despite having fulfilled all the criteria set by the Ministry of Telecommunication some two or three months ago." ("ANEM Weekly Report," 1 February)
TEXT OF INTERNET LAW AVAILABLE.
The Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations obtained the text of the Turkmen law "On Electronic Document." To get this document send a request to CJES. (Center Journalism in Extreme Situations, 5 February)PRESIDENT CRITICIZES JOURNALISTS.
Addressing an expanded cabinet session, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has again complained that journalists devote too much time and energy to praising his person and achievements, while neglecting serious problems, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 30 January. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January)
PROTESTERS IN KYIV WANT PRESIDENT TO QUIT...
Some 5,000 people took part in an anti-presidential demonstration in Kyiv on 6 February, demanding that President Leonid Kuchma step down over allegations of complicity in the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Protesters from left- and right-wing parties and organizations marched in Kyiv, picketed the parliamentary building, and tried to storm the presidential administration building but were stopped by a police cordon and a high wall erected around the administration compound. The protesters adopted a resolution demanding the resignations of Kuchma, Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, and Security Service chief Leonid Derkach, whom they hold responsible for the alleged murder of Gongadze. "It is impossible to live in a country where they get rid of everybody who disagrees with Leonid Kuchma," Yuriy Lutsenko, a protest organizer, told the crowd. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February)...WHILE KUCHMA SHRUGS OFF OUSTER DEMAND.
"The president, who has been elected by the majority of Ukrainian residents, 16 million people, will not yield to the resignation demand of 2,000," presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko told the Ekho Moskvy radio station the same day. Lawmaker Serhiy Kurkin told Interfax that Kuchma voiced a similar argument the previous day during a meeting with Ukraine's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. According to Kurkin, Kuchma said the 16 million votes cast for him in 1999 constitute "the credit of trust on which I am leaning." Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz appealed to lawmakers in the parliament to pass legislation that would regulate the procedure for the president's impeachment. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February)PROSECUTOR-GENERAL'S OFFICE SAYS VOICES AUTHENTIC, TAPE FALSIFIED?
The Prosecutor-General's Office on 2 February passed to Interfax a rather enigmatic statement on the official investigation of the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and the audiotapes provided by Mykola Melnychenko, former bodyguard of President Leonid Kuchma. The office said all cases are being investigated professionally and objectively. According to the office, Melnychenko's tapes were "compiled from separate words and fragments, which is essentially a falsification." At the same time, the office said the tapes include Kuchma's authentic conversations with law enforcement officials on the country's crime situation, adding that some of those conversation were taped in secret. The Internet newsletter "Ukrayinskaya pravda" commented that this statement actually confirms the authenticity of Melnychenko's recordings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February)LAWMAKER SAYS MELNYCHENKO'S TAPE IS AUTHENTIC.
Taras Chornovil from the Rukh parliamentary caucus has recognized his voice on an audio tape provided by Mykola Melnychenko, President Leonid Kuchma's former bodyguard, Interfax reported on 1 February. Chornovil said the recording of his conversation with Kuchma last autumn could in no way have been faked. Last year, Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko voiced the official Kyiv opinion about the Melnychenko recordings, saying they were doctored. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February)WHOSE CORPSE IS IT?
Parliament deputy Serhiy Holovatyy on 30 January said the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) prevented him from receiving the results of an independent examination of the corpse believed to be that of missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. According to Holovatyy, he was to receive the results from his compatriot, Ihor Stelmakh, in Germany. Holovatyy said their meeting could not be arranged due to interference from the SBU, which was trying to find Stelmakh in order to question him as a witness in the Gongadze case. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January) Meanwhile, last month, "The Independent" reports the Ukrainian government denied Gongadze's death, postponed the conduct of laboratory work on the corpse that was found, although a local coroner identified the corpse as that of the missing journalist. "The [local] coroner's superiors were said to have told him to check into a hospital for stress disorder." By January, the procurator-general at last admitted to parliament that "DNA tests showed a 99.6 percent likelihood that the corpse was Mr. Gongadze." In addition, the corpse had a shrapnel wound on the wrist "similar to a mortar wound suffered by Mr. Gongadze" when he covered a war in Georgia. ("The Independent," 7 February)EU EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER MEDIA FREEDOM IN UKRAINE.
"The European Union wishes to repeat its concerns about the continuing problematic environment for the media in Ukraine and wants to stress to the Ukrainian authorities the need to ensure a safe, secure, and harassment-free environment for journalists to operate in," the EU's Swedish presidency said in a statement released on 6 February. The statement also called on the Ukrainian authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the disappearance of Heorhiy Gongadze. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ihor Hrushko reacted to the EU statement by saying that it is "a biased opinion, a hasty measure that does not agree quite fittingly with what the initiators of this statement actually have in mind," Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February)WESTERN ENVOYS CONCERNED OVER UKRAINE'S TENDER FOR RADIO FREQUENCY.
The U.S. and British ambassadors and the German charge d'affaires on 31 January told National Television and Radio Council head Borys Kholod that they are concerned about the fairness of a tender for an FM frequency used by Kyiv's Radio Kontinent, Interfax reported. Kontinent, which rebroadcasts programs from the BBC, Voice of America, and Deutsche Welle, is also known for its criticism of the Ukrainian authorities. Missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze was Kontinent's news editor. Kontinent director Serhiy Sholokh has accused the Ukrainian government of planning to shut down the station under the pretext of reviewing broadcasting licenses. Kholod told the envoys that there will be no problems with the retransmission of Western radio stations. Kholod added that Kontinent should apply for a new license as all other Ukrainian broadcasters have done. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 February)
CONDITIONS WORSEN FOR IMPRISONED UZBEK WRITER.
Internationally recognized Uzbek writer Mamadali Makhmudov was transferred in January to the Navoy Strict Regimen Prison Camp. Citing "deep concern for the well-being of Makhmudov, who has been detained since February 1999 and who has reportedly suffered severe torture," the International PEN Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) made another appeal for his release on 7 February. Three days after the 1999 bomb attacks in Tashkent, the writer was arrested on 19 February and charged with "threatening the president," Makhmudov was sentenced to 14 years in prison on 18 August 1999. The writer did pass a note about severe beatings, suffocations, and electric shocks he had suffered during three months of pretrial detention. The WiPC considers the actual reason charges were brought against Makhmudov and his five co-defendents was "their possession and distribution of the [Uzbekistan political opposition movement] "Erk" newspaper -- banned since 1993." The prosecutor claimed that the paper contained articles threatening to the president, WiPC reported. (International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, 7 February)BBC TAPE SEEN AS 'ANTI-STATE.'
Three members of the banned religious movement Khizbut Takhrir were put on trial in Khorezm Oblast. They were accused of distributing leaflets of this Islamic movement. One official charge against philologist Dzhamoliddin Babadzhanov was his audio-cassette with a recording of a BBC Uzbek-language program, part of a series on human rights. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 5 February)
'FRONT LINE' ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN TV LINK.
Last year, a series of TV programs between Azerbaijan and Armenia linked journalists Rauf Talyshinsky and Boris Navasardyan, jazz musicians Dzhavan Zeinalli and Armen Tutudzhyan, film directors Vagif Mustafaev and Ruben Gevorkyants, parliamentarian Isa Gambar and Vaan Ovanisyan, and seismologists Oktai Babazade and Sergei Balasanyan. In Moscow, Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists discussed their work with their Moscow colleagues, as well as "conflictologists," psychologists, and ethnographers. Internews in Azerbaijan and Armenia are preparing a cycle of 24 telebridges and would like to hear from people uninvolved in the situation about these broadcasts. Contact email@example.com or see http://www.gdf.ru (Digest of the Glasnost Defense Fund, 5 February)
NEW BALKANS MAGAZINE FOR REFUGEES.
"Our Response" center for information support has launched a magazine, "Adequate Response," devoted to refugees, the socially endangered, and the handicapped. Its editor in chief, Milka Ljubicic, said on 1 February that the journal will focus on Croatian and Bosnian refugees, the political and economic situation of their countries of origin, and on repatriation. The magazine will be published in Croatia and the Republic of Srpska as well as in Belgrade. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 2 February)