7 May 2001, Volume
WORLD BANK PROPOSALS: 'MORE PUBLIC DISCLOSURE.'
As the World Bank revises its 1993 Information Disclosure policy, 500 NGOs from over 100 countries wrote a 30 April letter calling on it to increase public access to information. The diverse organizations -- environment and development groups, labor unions, and various political networks plus journalist associations -- expressed concern that billions of people affected by World Bank lending continue to be denied important information. For more, see http://www.bicusa.org/mdbs/wbg/info.htm. (Article 19, 30 April)'SERIOUS ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION' IN EUROPEAN MEDIA.
At a 24 April session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a major report was made by Hungarian Deputy Gyula Hegyi of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science, and Education, which expressed concern over the fact that in four PACE member-states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Romania, and Ukraine) journalists can still be sent to prison under existing laws for expression of opinion. ("Yerevan Press Club Newsletter," 21-24 April)CPJ NAMES TEN ENEMIES OF THE PRESS ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on 3 May named the Ten Worst Enemies of the Press for 2001, focusing attention on individual leaders who are responsible for the world's worst abuses against the media. President Vladimir Putin of Russia debuted on the list, while Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was put back on the CPJ list (he last appeared in 1999). (Committee to Protect Journalists Press Release, 3 May)FREE SPEECH: A BALANCING ACT?
The World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), which brings together 44 journalistic organizations on six continents, on 25 April wrote to Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to express concern over a statement recently submitted to her by three international rapporteurs on freedom of expression in relation to the forthcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The rapporteurs, named by the UN Human Rights Commission, OSCE, and OAS, spoke of the media's "moral and social obligation...to make a positive contribution to the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance." They also alleged that there is a need for a "balance" between efforts to combat intolerance and "protection of the right to freedom of expression." Freedom of speech cannot be forced into "balance" without being restricted. Similar statements of obligations or roles assigned to the media by others have been exploited to curb free speech, notably in the case in the former Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc and continues to be the case in a number of their successor states. (WPFC, 26 April)
MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS PASSED.
On 26 April, Armenian President Robert Kocharian signed into law media law amendments which stipulate that only legal entities -- not, as previously, individuals -- can set up media outlets. ("Yerevan Press Club Newsletter," 21-27 April)NTV OFF AIR, BRIEFLY.
On 24 April, NTV broadcasts in Armenia were dropped. As the Yerevan Press Club was told by the Paradise ad agency, which rebroadcasts NTV in Armenia, a faulty transmitter was to blame. NTV broadcasting resumed in the afternoon of 25 April. ("Yerevan Press Club Newsletter," 21-27 April)PACE: 'TOO MUCH [BROADCAST] POWER' FOR PRESIDENT.
At a 24 April session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a major report was made by Hungarian Deputy Gyula Hegyi of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science, and Education. It was critical of the Armenian broadcast media law, passed last October, because it gives the president too much power: he alone can name the members of the State Broadcast Council and of the National Commission on Television and Radio which also regulates the private broadcast sector. ("Yerevan Press Club Newsletter," 21-27 April)
LAST YEAR, FIVE JOURNALISTS FACED CRIMINAL CHARGES.
The chairman of the journalists' union, Rukh, reported that last year in Azerbaijan 65 journalists were beaten, 25 stood trial, five journalists faced criminal charges due to their work, and editors and staff paid a total of 800 million manats in fines. ("Impulse," 27 April)AUTHORITIES PRESSURING FOR TV TAKEOVERS.
Internews Azerbaijan sent a letter to all embassies accredited in Azerbaijan on 3 May, informing them of "an alarming campaign against regional TV stations," including two stations in Guba and one in Zakatala. After years of denying operating licenses to these stations, local governors are now attempting to seize controlling shares of broadcast companies. In addition, the Ministry of Communications is using a Soviet-era jamming device to interrupt a regional station's transmissions in Mingechevir, reducing broadcasts from a 12-mile radius to half a mile. (Internews Azerbaijan, 3 May)TV STATION THREATENED WITH SHUTDOWN.
In Sumgayit, four Ministry of Communication officials came to an independent TV station this week warning that it would be shut down because it lacks an official broadcast license. The station has continued broadcasting despite the warning. The Sumgayit station is one of six TV stations outside Baku which has consistently and for many years been denied broadcast licenses by the relevant authorities. (Internews Azerbaijan, 2 May)JOURNALISTS' RALLY BANNED.
The Journalists' Trade Union planned to conduct a street rally and meeting on 3 May 2001 for World Press Freedom Day to commemorate journalists killed in the line of duty and had requested a permit from Baku city authorities. On 30 April, Baku officials denied the rally permit "because the streets will be very busy." For more, contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Journalists' Trade Union, 1 May)BAKU MAYOR FILES SUIT AGAINST 'DOZENS' OF PAPERS.
The "Azerbaijan Bulletin" reports that the new Baku mayor, Hajibala Abutalibov, has filed charges against "dozens of newspapers during the past month." As a result, last week, a Baku district court ordered that the paper "Millatin Sesi" no longer be printed, while another Baku court has initiated proceeding against the paper 'Ulus." The bulletin speculated that the motivation behind the new mayor's anti-press drive is to curtail press criticism; without waiting for a court decision, some 25,000 buildings in Baku have been destroyed on his orders. ("Azerbaijan Bulletin," 26 April)DOZENS OF NEWSPAPER KIOSKS DESTROYED IN BAKU.
Dozens of newspaper kiosks of the Gaya press distribution company were destroyed by order of Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov, reports the "Azerbaijan Bulletin." The Gaya director said that these kiosks had been built with the mayor's approval and with the necessary permit, but that the mayor then changed his mind. Destruction of the kiosks was later halted while the issue was being resolved. ("Azerbaijan Bulletin, 26 April)IRANIAN TV DENIES BROADCASTING ANTI-AZERBAIJANI PROGRAMS.
Amin Sadiqi, the editor in chief of Iran's Sahar TV, has denied broadcasting anti-Azerbaijani programs, "525 gazet" reported on 26 April. Meanwhile, on the same day, Turan reported that several Iranian newspapers have criticized Tehran's harsh policies toward provinces in which Azerbaijanis live. And in a shoot-out at the Azerbaijani-Iranian border on 24 April, an Azerbaijani border guard died when armed Iranians attempted to cross the border illegally, ANS television reported on 26 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)
CHRISTIAN PAPER EDITOR AND DISTRIBUTORS DUE IN COURT.
Efforts by an interdenominational Protestant newspaper, "Slovo," on the streets of Minsk to get new subscribers have resulted in over twenty people facing charges. The official responsible for religious affairs in Minsk told Keston News Service that leaflets distributed along with the paper caused the problem, because they were "issued by a religious organization [Jews for Jesus] that is not registered and its activity is therefore banned." When asked why "Slovo" was confiscated and why the editor is facing court proceedings, however, she hung up the phone. (Keston News Service, 3 May)
CZECH JOURNALIST ACCUSED OF ATTACKING POLICE CLEARED BY COURT.
Lenka Kucerova, a photographer and journalist, was found not guilty in Prague City Court on 2 May of assaulting a police officer while covering a May Day demonstration last year, CTK reported. Police and prosecutors alleged that she attacked an officer as he was arresting a demonstrator. The court ruled that, while Kucerova behaved inappropriately in pulling at the officer's jacket and striking his back, it did not qualify as assaulting a public official. Kucerova insisted that she had not had any physical contact with the officer, and that the charges were an attempt by the police to discredit her and discourage her from reporting on police actions against demonstrators. Police witnesses said they saw Kucerova striking the officer, while other witnesses, including ex-government human rights official Petr Uhl, said they saw no such incident. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
ANTI-GOVERNMENT EDITOR FIRED FROM CROATIAN PAPER.
Josip Jovic, editor in chief of Croatia's third-largest daily, "Slobodna Dalmacija," was dismissed from his position by the board of the primarily state-owned newspaper after leading the paper's attacks on the reformist government that took power in January 2000, AP reported on 2 May. The daily, based in Split, had regularly labeled President Stipe Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan "traitors" for their cooperation with The Hague war crimes tribunal. The move enraged veterans' groups and the former ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), who called it an attack on press freedom and promised to hold protest rallies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)CROATIAN JOURNALISTS STRIKE TO MARK WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY.
Croatian journalists went on strike on 3 May to protest unpaid wages and call attention to the media's role in preserving democracy, dpa reported. They said many journalists go months without being paid. "Many of our members are actually facing poverty. The employers even refuse to pay for health and social insurance," said Jasmina Popovic, the head of the Union of Croatian Journalists. She added that "political pressures on journalists have also continued after the political changes" that brought in the reformist government of Prime Minister Ivica Racan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
PUBLIC FIGURES OUTRAGED AT COMMERCIAL TV REPORT.
Several Hungarian public personalities called on public opinion-makers to dissociate themselves from the RTL Klub commercial television station after the network aired a program on 23 April in which reporter Tamas Frei asked a Russian paid hitman the price he would ask to assassinate Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The hitman said for $1 million he would be prepared to murder Orban. RTL Klub Communications Director Imre Szabo Stein on 27 April apologized to the prime minister on screen. "Nepszabadsag" reported that two or three top executives at RTL Klub will be forced to leave their posts as a result of the broadcast. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)
BILL ON ADVERTISING: STATE CONTROL?
The "Internews Kazakhstan" bulletin has a commentary by its lawyer on the draft law "On advertising," noting that along with some positive aspects, the new draft law demonstrates the state's aspiration for tight control over the entire advertising sphere. ("Internews Kazakhstan," 4 May)
SENIOR OSCE OFFICIAL VISITS KYRGYZSTAN.
Visiting OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Chairman Adrian Severin held talks in Bishkek on 2 May with President Askar Akaev, Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev and the speakers of both chambers of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Severin informed Akaev that the OSCE plans to create a Trans-Asian Parliamentary Forum that will meet yearly. He also said that the OSCE Economic Forum in Prague later this month will discuss financial aid for Kyrgyzstan. Altai Borubaev, speaker of the legislature's upper chamber, told Severin that Western organizations and government agencies, especially the U.S. State Department, exaggerate the pressures on the independent media in Kyrgyzstan. Severin also met late on 2 May with representatives of four opposition and four pro-government political parties to discuss press freedom, the relations between the Kyrgyz leadership and opposition, and the plight of jailed Kyrgyz opposition leaders, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
AUTHORITIES TAKE ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE BROADCAST OFF THE AIR.
Ljupce Jakimovski, who heads Macedonian state-run television, said on 30 April that he has "suspended" a late-night Albanian-language news program, dpa reported. Jakimovski added that he was "unable to control the program...that has incited ethnic intolerance and encouraged Albanian militant extremists since the crisis began." He stressed that the broadcast "worked against the interests of the Macedonian state." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April)
POLL: FIFTY PERCENT 'CAN DO WITHOUT' PRINT MEDIA...
Only eight percent of those polled by the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), read serious news publications and half 'can do without' newspapers and magazines. The tabloids, or purely entertainment publications, have more readers. For example, "Moskovsky Komsomolets" is the paper of preference for ten percent, while almost half the women polled and twenty percent of the men regularly read women's periodicals....AND OVER HALF 'NEVER READ POLITICAL ARTICLES.'
The VTsIOM poll also showed that 65 percent of those polled never read political articles in newspapers, and 44 percent say they try to not to talk about politics. ("Versty," 28 April)'YES' TO BILL TO LIMIT FOREIGN MEDIA OWNERSHIP?
The Duma, the lower house of parliament, approved by an overwhelming margin (332 to 22 with three abstentions) a bill barring foreign ownership of controlling interest in both print and broadcast companies, reported "The Wall Street Journal." Analysts say the bill faces numerous obstacles, however, before it can be signed into law -- or be effectively enforced if it is. The bill needs two more Duma votes and one in the upper house of parliament before it goes to President Putin for signing. According to the paper, many Western countries restrict foreign ownership of broadcast media, and bar foreign citizens from holding broadcast licenses, few states limit foreign ownership of print outlets -- especially at the 50% level. "Russia would be the first large country that I can think of that would have restrictions on foreign ownership of printed press," said Andrei Richter, director of the Moscow Media Law and Policy Institute. The chief executive of Dutch-owned Independent Media (which produces "The Moscow Times"), said a likely result of such a law would be less transparency in the Russian media business by encouraging offshore structures and intermediate companies. ("The Wall Street Journal," 27 April)...WHILE SWEDES BUY DARIAL TV.
The Swedish company Modern Times bought 75 percent of Darial TV, an all-Russian television channel broadcasting news and entertainment to an estimated 20 million people. ("The Wall Street Journal," 27 April)ATTACKS ON FREE PRESS SAID INTENSIFYING...
On the occasion of International Journalists Solidarity Day, the Russian Journalists' Union issued a statement saying that "attacks against freedom of speech are becoming more and more persistent and well-prepared. We are being persuaded that certain things are more important than freedom. We are being urged to perceive the press as an enemy," Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 May. In an indication that journalists are facing ever more obstacles to doing their jobs, Interfax-Eurasia reported the same day that one of its reporters was denied access to a courtroom in Vladivostok where a suit against former First Deputy Governor Konstantin Tolstoshein is being heard. Meanwhile, the Glasnost Defense Fund noted that 117 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1991, Interfax reported on 3 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)OPINION POLL ON 'ALTERNATIVE' JOURNALISTS TRADE UNION.
Six months after Aleksandr Lyubimov, ORT deputy general director, formed an alternative journalists' association, MediaSoyuz, the Glasnost Defense Foundation asked some leading journalists their opinions about why the new organization had been formed. Ekho Moskvy commentator Andrei Cherkizov: "The Kremlin wants to split the journalistic community." Dean of the Moscow State University Journalism Faculty, Yasen Zasursky: "To tell the truth, I simply do not see any reason for the creation of such an organization. This is my answer." RENTV General Director Irena Lesnevskaya: "It is a Bolshevik habit: rather than taking an evolutionary approach, the old is razed to create the new. It is PR for Lyubimov." TV-6 Chairman of the Board Igor Shabdurasulov: "I do not know the answer to this question because I have never discussed it with the Union of Journalists of Russia management, nor with the Media-Union management." Internews Russia Director Manana Aslamasian: "I have the feeling that...this shows that young managers think that they will be able to more easily find a common language with the authorities. This organization will be based on the new rules of the game. Real protection of the interests of freedom of speech is not playing these games." Professor Michael Fedotov, secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists: "It is connected with certain people's desire to create an obedient body to work in the journalists' community as a fifth column for the authorities. And at the same time it is, certainly, a commercial project." Professor Boris Lozovsky, dean of the Ural State University Faculty of Journalism: "Now the process 'PR-ization' of journalism is taking place, the subject of which is the state. I think, that the Media-Union is a part of a major program to governmentalize the mass media." (Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest, 23 April)'JOURNALISTS: BE PROFESSIONAL AND HONEST.'
Ekho Moskvy reports that the Russian Journalists' Union issued a 3 May statement on international media freedom day. "It is not just we [journalists] who need to struggle for freedom of information, press independence and the right to perform our duties in a dignified and honest manner. This is a prime condition for the free development of society." The statement concludes, "We have only one course of action -- to be professional and honest, not to lie on the pages of our newspapers or in front of TV cameras and radio microphones." (Ekho Moskvy, 3 May)AN ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT EDITOR AT 'LITERATURNAYA GAZETA.'
The board at "Literaturnaya gazeta" elected Yurii Polyakov as the weekly's new chief editor, Interfax reported on 21 April. Polyakov made his name with satirical works about the so-called "new Russians," including scenarios for a variety of films. "Literaturnaya gazeta" is 70 percent owned by Rosprom-Yukos, which in turn is controlled by oligarch Vladimir Potanin. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 30 April)MOSCOW ANGRY THAT PUTIN CALLED 'ENEMY OF THE FREE PRESS.'
Pro-Kremlin media officials and politicians ranging from the Communists to the People's Deputy faction to Unity expressed outrage that the Committee to Protect Journalists included President Putin in its annual list of enemies of the free press, Interfax reported on 3 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)MOSKOVIA TV FIGHT OVER CONTROL, BRINGS IN POLICE.
A conflict at Moskovia TV has led to the former owners of the station calling police to block the entry of the new owners, Interfax reported on 27 April. The Moscow regional government, which holds a 44 percent stake in the company plans to appeal the takeover. In another media matter, Russian prosecutors formally indicted TV journalist Sergei Dorenko on charges of hooliganism for allegedly running down a navy officer while riding a motorcycle, the news agency said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April)POLITKOVSKAYA GIVEN FIRST BOROVIK AWARD...
The New York-based Overseas Press Club presented the first Artem Borovik Award to Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter for the Moscow newspaper "Novaya gazeta" who ran afoul of the Russian authorities for her coverage of the Chechen war, AP reported on 27 April. The award itself is named after a Russian print and television reporter who died in a still-mysterious airplane crash in March 1999. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April)...DESCRIBES 'THREE SIDES' OF CHECHEN WAR...
Journalists covering the Chechen conflict should try to report three sides of the story, according to "Novaya gazeta" correspondent Anna Politkovskaya, but those who do so soon run afoul of the Russian authorities. Speaking in London at a 2 May event organized by the Amnesty International UK Journalists' Network, Article 19, and the Freedom Forum, Politkovskaya emphasized that in addition to Russian and Chechen fighters, the civilian population represents a crucial "third side" to the conflict. However, the Russian authorities seek to suppress coverage of the impact of the war on the civilian population just as strongly as reporting on the Chechen fighters' points of view, she added. Politkovskaya received an award last year from the Russian Union of Journalists for her coverage of Chechnya, but Russian officials have characterized her reports as "fantasies." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)...AND FORMS OF PRESSURE ON 'NOVAYA GAZETA.'
Speaking at the same event to mark World Press Freedom Day, Politkovskaya said that tax inspectors are a near-constant presence at the editorial offices of "Novaya gazeta." She also charged that because "Novaya gazeta" relies on advertising for most of its revenue, the presidential administration has sought to intimidate advertisers behind the scenes, threatening to close down companies that continue to place advertisements in the newspaper. Politkovskaya said the staff of "Novaya gazeta" are "living one day at a time" and do not know what the future holds, but will "fight to the last day" against any efforts to drive the newspaper out of business or close it down. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)TWO JOURNALISTS RETURN TO NTV...
Interfax reported on 3 May that two television journalists, Lev Novozhenov and Pavel Lobkov, have announced that they will return to work at NTV under its new ownership. The news service said that 120 of the 1,200 people on the staff of that station resigned when Gazprom took it over from Media-MOST. Meanwhile, the Yabloko party announced the same day that it is launching an Internet action to support journalists who resigned from NTV and those who lost their jobs at "Segodnya" and "Itogi," Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)...BUT GUSINSKY DOESN'T SHOW UP FOR QUESTIONING...
The Prosecutor-General's Office announced on 3 May that media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, now in Israel, did not show up that day to answer questions and that the office has issued a new summons for 10 May, Russian and Western agencies reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)GUSINSKY COMPARES RUSSIA TO CONCENTRATION CAMP, PUTIN TO MILOSEVIC.
Before flying to Israel, embattled Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky compared Russia to a concentration camp and President Putin to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, "Izvestiya" reported on 26 April. On the same day in an "Obshchaya gazeta" interview, media magnate Boris Berezovsky said that he believes Russian security services were behind the NTV attack. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)BONNER SCOFFS AT KREMLIN DIVERSIONARY TACTICS...
Writing on the Andrei Sakharov Foundation website, Elena Bonner scoffed at Kremlin efforts to convince the Russian public of the current criminal activities of media moguls. She wrote, "[The Russian people] were told that the valiant organs [of state power] prevented the prison escape of a horrible Aeroflot criminal [Nikolai Glushkov]. The main thing is that the organs already know who the organizers are -- Boris [Berezovsky, TV-6 owner] and Badri [Patarkatsishvili, TV-6 general director].... [The alleged organizers] showed their true colors and allowed the NTV staff to work at their channel, TV-6. This is something any investigator should understand -- that they have organized the [purported] escape...although they [Boris and Badri] are hanging around in London." (http://www.wdn.com/asf/, 14 April)...LAMENTS RUSSIAN PUBLIC(S) RESPONSE TO NTV CLOSURE...
Bonner observed that although most Russians seem to have reacted passively to the Kremlin's NTV takeover, she noted various responses: "[L]et�s thank the guys from the 'apparat' who did not help the [OMON] invaders [of NTV]. Let�s thank the journalists who did not betray themselves or us. But one is moved to tears. In order to please its president, our All-Russian Great People will swallow all this [Gazprom Media Director Alfred] Kokh-Jordan shit. You see, all these thugs suit him [Putin] very well -- and he has a strong dislike for [NTV owner Vladimir] Gusinsky. And our leading intelligentsia -- which has been singing its own praises for almost a century -- will help the people digest this." (http://www.wdn.com/asf/, 14 April)...AND SUMMONS 'SAMIZDAT' CIRCLES.
"So, my dear old friends, writers and readers of samizdat, [uncensored, self-published, and informally distributed literature] prepare your simple instrument. Prepare others to follow in your footsteps. You see, always and forever, someone must speak the truth. As our mothers and grandmothers blessed us before our journeys, 'May God be with You!'" (http://www.wdn.com/asf/, 14 April)CAMPAIGN AGAINST GUSINSKY GOES ONLINE.
The Communications Ministry has cut off the website of Ekho Moskvy and NTV.ru as part of the more general campaign against media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky. RosTelekon spokesmen said that the sites had been shut down because of "unpaid debts." ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 30 April)CHECHEN JOURNALIST SAYS HE SPIED FOR FRANCE.
A 30-year-old Chechen journalist who worked both in Chechnya and Moscow but who lived for four years in France, has confessed to working for the French intelligence services, NTV reported on 30 April. The television network said that the Chechen, who was not named, will not be punished because he confessed voluntarily. Meanwhile, the Federal Security Service (FSB) announced on 29 April that it has lodged the additional charge of fraud against Valentin Danilov, a Krasnoyarsk researcher who is already accused of spying for China, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)FSB SAYS IT CAN DISTINGUISH ANALYSTS FROM SPIES.
Lieutenant General Sergei Diakov, the former head of the FSB's legal department, said that the agency had acted correctly when it charged journalist Grigorii Pashko, scientist Igor Sutyagin, and others of "divulging state secrets," even if the information they had in hand was unclassified or even had been published, according to "Nezavismoe voennoe obozrenie" No. 16. According to Diakov, even publication of unclassified information may be a crime if it leads to the compromising of state secrets. In other comments, Diakov said that revealing state secrets through negligence or preparing to disclose state secrets are actions falling under the terms of espionage statutes. And any journalist who obtains information that turns out to be secret can be charged as well, Diakov added. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 30 April)JOURNALIST, OTHERS SUSPECTED OF LEAKING STATE SECRETS.
Andrei Luchenko, a spokesman for the Military Procuracy, said on 25 April that officers of his agency had searched the apartment of Valerii Shiraev, the deputy chief editor of "Novaya gazeta," gazeta.ru reported. Luchenko said that the search was not connected with Shiraev's journalistic activity but because he had worked for the FSB. He said that military prosecutors have opened a criminal case against him and several other Media-MOST security officers who have intelligence backgrounds for "divulging state secrets." ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 30 April)'FSB DOES NOT HIRE HACKERS'...
Of late, foreign intelligence services have often been trying to test the strength of the official sites of the Russian security services on the Internet. Cracking a site will reveal no secret information, of course, but it can damage software and weaken protection. In October 1998, the Department for Computer and Information Security was established in Russia's Federal Security Service. Protection of the FSB official site is the smallest and perhaps the simplest task of this department, its main work being counter-intelligence and computer and information security. Department head Vladimir Nepomnyashchiy uncovers his department's operations for the first time in an interview with Strana.ru. (strana.ru, 27 April)...BUT FACES TECHNICAL PROBLEMS IN ELECTRONIC WARFARE.
Lieutenant General Valeri Volodin, the chief of the GRU's Electronic Warfare Directorate, said that his service is well-prepared for penetrating the information systems of enemies but suffers from some problems because of technological shortcomings, "Krasnaya zvezda" reported on 14 April. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 30 April)BURYING A COMPUTER TOO OLD TO GO ONLINE.
Moscow computer students last week staged a symbolic funeral for a 286 model PC too old to go online, "Izvestiya" reported on 29 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)'SEGODNYA,' 'ITOGI' AVAILABLE ONLINE.
The old journalist collectives of "Segodnya" and "Itogi" have issued their publications online on the lenta.ru portal, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 26 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)KAZANTSEV GOES ONLINE.
Following the lead of President Putin, Viktor Kazantsev, the presidential envoy for the Southern federal district, has conducted his first Internet press conference, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 April. Those who participated on the web or via a local radio broadcast asked about Chechnya, media freedom, and the government, and Kazantsev's personal life. The outspoken Kazantsev refused to answer only the last type of question. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)PAVLOVSKII SEEN PROMOTING CHUBAIS.
Presidential media adviser Gleb Pavlovskii is promoting Anatolii Chubais as a "tame" opposition leader, "Novye Izvestiya" reported on 26 April. But Pavlovskii is doing so, the paper said, only as part of a broader strategy in which he seeks to have himself named head of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) in place of Chubais. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)LIMONOVITES WANT FREEDOM TO AGITATE FOR STALIN, GULAG.
A group of supporters of Limonov on 25 April demanded at a press conference the release of their boss, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. The paper said that one journalist in attendance remarked that "You shout at all your meetings: 'Stalin! Beria! Gulag!' Now a Gulag is being organized in the country. Why are you upset?" The Limonovites responded that they in no way support a Gulag, but rather for the freedom to be able to call for "Stalin! Beria! Gulag!'" ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)NO SANCTIONS FOR FALSE ADS.
The Anti-Monopoly Policy Ministry on 25 April said that it will not impose any sanctions on newspapers that published a false advertisement in February about a nonexistent store, nor on the public relations firm that placed them, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. The ads had been placed by the Promaco PR agency both to attract attention to itself and to demonstrate the lack of checking at many media outlets. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)TOMSK JOURNALISTS TO DEVELOP ELECTORAL CODE OF ETHICS.
The Tomsk regional election commission and the local branch of the Union of Journalists on 23 April held a roundtable on "The Legal and Moral Position of Journalists During Elective Campaigns" according to regions.ru. It was decided that a code of ethics for journalists should be drafted by the regional election commission, the Union of Journalists in Tomsk, and Faculty of Journalism of Tomsk State University. ("Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest", 28 April)TATAR LEADER CRITICAL OF BASHKORTOSTAN CLOSURE OF PAPER.
The leader of a moderate Tatar nationalist group in Ufa, Ayrat Giniyatullin, head of the Tatar Public Center, told RFE/RL on 27 April that the lack of a Tatar newspaper in the region is a "major problem" for Tatars living in Bashkortostan, but a new newspaper has now emerged. That newspaper, with a print run of 50,000, is printed in Chelyabinsk in place of the closed Idel-Ural newspaper that had been subjected to pressure from local authorities. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April)ELECTRICITY SUPPLIER CURBS TV.
Dalenergo, the local electric utility, cut its supply of electricity for Vladivostok on 26 April cut its electricity supplies to the local television and radio transmission center, causing the national television channels ORT, NTV, and RTR to go off the air. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April)YAVLINSKY BOOK, ALREADY PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH, TO BE RELEASED IN RUSSIAN.
Yabloko party leader Grigorii Yavlinsky's book on economic and political change, which sold 20,000 copies when it was released in English in 2000, will be translated and published in Russian, Interfax reported on 26 April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April)MOSCOW CONSIDERING RUSSIAN SPELLING REFORM.
According to a report in "Argumenty i fakty," No. 17, Russian officials are considering the introduction of new spelling rules that would lead to the replacement of the letter "yu" with the letter "u" in words like "broshyura" (brochure) and "parashyut" (parachute). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)RUSSIAN TV MARKS SEVENTY YEARS.
Russian television marked the seventieth anniversary of first experimental broadcast on 29 April, NTV reported. Broadcast from a TV lab of an electrical engineering institute, the first TV set Dalnovidets (long-distance vision), looked like a matchbox and 30 were produced. In order to see the faces of Soviet political leaders -- which was the only show in town -- delegations of workers and Red Army soldiers had to peer through the apparatus with one eye. Mass production of television sets began in 1934; TV programs, mainly dance productions and documentaries, were shown after midnight in five-day cycles. The Ostankino TV center opened in 1967 with a concert conducted by Gennadiy Rozhdestvensky. (NTV, 29 April)
OUTSPOKEN ALBANIAN POLITICIAN KIDNAPPED.
Prominent Kosova Albanian politician Behljulji Nasufi was kidnapped by rebels in south Serbia on 24 April in what his family see as an attempt to silence his recent "inappropriate statements." The Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac seized the Party for Democratic Action vice-president in the village of Konculj. Nasufi is director of the Abdul Krasnici culture center in the south Serbian town of Presevo, and main editor of the soon-to-be-launched Radio Presevo. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)INCONSISTENT TELECOMMUNICATIONS MINISTER?
Federal Telecommunications Minister Boris Tadic prohibited the further operation of Radio Mega one month ago, in reaction to its broadcasting without a license. In addition, its broadcasts interfere with the Radio B92 frequency, "Danas" reported on 24 April. Despite the official ban, however, this station again began broadcasting on the same frequency. The director of Radio Indjija told "Danas" that the minister acts "inconsistently," and ignores his own decision on the allocation of frequencies moratorium and went on to say that today there is even more chaos than under the old regime. "Now, a radio station can be established by anyone, even without the broadcast license, and they are allowed to make a profit from it, without paying taxes." Radio Mega is not the only such case, as can be seen in the new broadcasts of the first private TV outlet Sveti Djordje, partly owned by Brazda-coop, which prospered during the Milosevic era, "Danas" added. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)SOCIALIST PARTY OF SERBIA TO FOUND TV AND NEWS AGENCY.
Top management of the daily newspaper "24 hours", which was founded by the company S grup, owned by the Socialist Party of Serbia, denied on 24 April that they had been doing business illegally during the last several months and announced that they plan to establish a news agency and a television outlet. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)MILANOVIC RELEASED FROM CUSTODY...
Former Radio Television Serbia Director Dragoljub Milanovic was released from custody on 23 April. He had been kept in custody on charges that he was accountable for the death of sixteen Radio Television Serbia employees during the NATO bombing campaign. The acting Serbian public prosecutor told B92 that he was not informed about Milanovic's release from custody. The criminal tribunal reached a decision to release Milanovic from custody because the term of custody for Milanovic had expired, anonymous court sources told B92. The decision to release him on the second anniversary of the bombing of the building of the RTS was purely coincidental, they added. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)...WHILE STATE TV BLANKS SCREENS IN PROTEST.
State TV blacked out its broadcasts on 22 April for 30 seconds at the start of the news program Dnevnik to protest the court decision to release its former general director, Dragoljub Milanovic, from custody on the second anniversary of NATO's bombing of its headquarters. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)RTS BUILDING ORDERED EVACUATED 20 MINUTES BEFORE AIR RAID?
Radio Television Serbia cameraman Dusan Ilic announced that state and military intelligence officers told him a day after the NATO bombing that they were told to evacuate the building twenty minutes before the event. Ilic spoke on the RTS news program "Dnevnik II" on 22 April, Sixteen people were killed during the NATO air raid on the Aberdareva Street building. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)RODIC: DEATH THREATS FROM YUGOSLAV LEFT.
ABC produkt company founder Radisav Rodic claimed that ex-state officials of the Yugoslav left had threatened to kill him two years ago unless he handed over the daily "Glas javnosti," part of the company ABC, "Glas javnosti" reported. These threats allegedly occurred in 1999 when Zeljko Arkan and the journalist Slavko Curuvija were murdered, Rodic said. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)MEDIA BLAMED FOR RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE.
Vojvodina Evangelist church president Aleksandar Mitrovic accused the media of creating an unfavorable environment for small religious communities by habitually grouping them with satanic cults. Mitrovic spoke with the daily "Danas" after the Baptist church in Novi Sad was stoned last week immediately before a Philosophy Faculty discussion on introducing catechism in schools. The Protestant leader claimed that BK Television is especially "dexterous" in its negative references to religious minorities. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)WORKING GROUPS ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND MEDIA FOUNDED.
The federal Yugoslav government has founded working groups for human rights, national minorities, media, and on refugees and the displaced, the Yugoslav Information Ministry announced. These working groups were founded within the framework of development of the Yugoslav official structures for cooperation with the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The coordinator of the first working roundtable in Yugoslavia, Jovan Ratkovic, will present the activities of these working groups during the 14 May meeting in Portoroz. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)GET FACTS STRAIGHT, COURT ASKS.
No one is guilty unless confirmed by a legitimate court decision, the Belgrade district attorney along with the five Belgrade public prosecutors announced on 20 April. The Belgrade district attorney then appealed to media and politicians to act with greater restraint and accountability when they refer to pending criminal cases. ("ANEM Update," 21-27 April)
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT GREETS JOURNALISTS ON PRESS FREEDOM DAY...
President Leonid Kuchma sent greetings to Ukrainian journalists on World Press Freedom Day, Interfax reported on 3 May, quoting the presidential press service. Kuchma said in his message that "for Ukraine, where the building of democratic society values is under way, press freedom is of special importance." Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a U.S.-based human rights group, included Kuchma in its annual list of top "Enemies of the Press." The CPJ accused Kuchma of increasing the "habitual censorship of opposition newspapers," as well as attacks and threats against independent journalists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)PRO-RUSSIAN MEDIA MAGNATE?
"The Baltimore Sun" reports that Viktor Pinchuk, "a suave member of parliament who controls a television and industrial empire and is the common-law husband of [Ukrainian President Leonid] Kuchma's daughter," reportedly claims that Western organizations are following an anti-Ukrainian plan, although he offered no proof. The Ukrainian media, almost totally run by the government or by media magnates such as Victor Pinchuk "has been vilifying the United States recently where once America could hardly do any wrong, " reports the paper. ("Baltimore Sun," 29 April)GLOBAL SURVEY OF PRESS FREEDOM.
The entire Freedom House Survey of Press Freedom, with country-by-country reports and an interactive press freedom map, are at http://www.freedomhouse.org/pfs2001/pfs2001.pdf. (Freedom House Press Release, 30 April)GLOBAL SURVEY FINDS INTERNET FREER THAN TRADITIONAL MEDIA.
In a 30 April report, Freedom House, a New York-based NGO, finds that Internet freedom exceeds press freedom in most countries, including some closed societies. Countries were rated based on levels of Internet use, regulatory environment, and access cost. (Freedom House Press Release, 30 April)...AND A MEDIA CORPORATION 'CULTURE OF GREED.'
The IFJ also warns that media concentration, globalization, and a culture of greed within media pose a range of new threats to freedom of expression. "Today a handful of media conglomerates control much of the information across the globe. They pose a significant threat to quality journalism, they undermine standards of media pluralism, and they operate outside the orbit of democratic accountability," says the IFJ. "These companies invest millions in lobbying in Brussels and Washington for deregulation aimed at killing off public service media, wrenching control of authors' rights away from creators, and converting the public information space into a cash cow for advertisers and sponsors," says the IFJ. The IFJ says that at the same time media owners impose poor working conditions, job insecurity, and have less respect for ethical standards. "The future of journalism and democracy is in the balance when media organizations lose their sense of public mission and follow an agenda based exclusively upon the commercial exploitation of information," says the IFJ. (International Federation of Journalists, 3 May)A DECADE OF DEATHS FOR JOURNALISTS...
The world's largest journalists' organization, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a report on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. The IFJ reports says that in the past ten years over 1,000 journalists and media workers have been killed or suffered violent deaths in the exercise of their profession and that it plans to publish a ten-year dossier on the subject next month. The IFJ said that "more pressure must be put on governments to end the culture of impunity which means many of those responsible for killing journalists are getting away with murder." (International Federation of Journalists, 3 May)
A TECTONIC SHIFT
By Paul Goble
The countries of the Asia-Pacific region in 2005 will pass the United States in terms of the number of Internet users, a shift that will change both the nature of the Internet itself and its impact on both the countries of Asia and others as well.
That is the conclusion of a report released on 3 May by the International Data Corporation, an Internet monitoring group. The report found that the number of Asia-Pacific web users, excluding those in Japan, will rise from 64 million at the end of 2000 to 240 million in 2005. Users in just three countries -- China, South Korea, and India --will account for almost three-quarters of that total.
For most of its existence, the Internet was invented and has remained a largely U.S. institution, with the United States setting the standards, responsible for most innovations, and ensuring that the dominant language on the web has remained English. And even the rise of Internet use in Western Europe has done little to challenge this U.S. dominance.
But the rise of Asia on the web seems certain to have three major consequences for the Internet that will affect not only that region but the entire international environment.
First, most Asian web users connect to the web wirelessly -- via cellular phone technology -- and their growing number is likely to follow that pattern. Indeed, the IDC report predicts that new Asian websurfers will increase the percentage of wireless web users from the 2.6 percent now to nearly 40 percent in only four years.
This shift to wireless operation in Asia will undoubtedly contribute to lowering the price of such access worldwide and thereby promote the use of wireless Internet access elsewhere as well, including in the United States. And that in turn will likely promote still more frequent use of the Internet as the communications tool of choice.
Second, because Asian markets are so fragmented and the cost of gaining market access in any particular one so high, the rise of the Internet in that area almost certainly will make it an even more important conduit for trade and economic activity across that region than the web plays now in the West. As corporations adjust to that new reality in Asia, they are likely to try to promote the same ideas in other regions of the world.
If that proves to be the case, the current skepticism in the United States and Western Europe about the role of the Internet in commerce may give way to a new wave of optimism and renewed expansion. That too would likely change the economies not only of Asia which forms a third of the world's population but other regions as well.
And third, to the extent that Asian users come to dominate the web, they are likely to insist that their own languages occupy a more prominent place on the web than those languages do now. And that could prove to be the most important consequence of all from the rise of Asia on the Internet.
That is because the new Asian users will be entering a domain where their languages will be in direct competition with English. Many of the new users will learn English as a result, but both they and the users who choose not to do so are likely to find their own sense of nationhood simultaneously challenged and intensified.
Their sense of nationhood will be challenged because they will be forced to make comparisons between their own language-defined world and the broader world defined on the Internet so far in English.
And their national identities will be intensified because this comparison, like the earlier comparisons between vernacular languages and Latin and between native languages and European tongues, will almost certainly make them more aware of who they are and who they are not.
Indeed, the Internet's conquest of an enormous new region may contribute to the rise of new nationalisms, which will be expressed both in English and in the native languages, across a medium that has now swept across the world.
And that, more than the economic or linguistic impact, is likely to be the most important result of the trend the International Data Corporation has reported this week.