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Media Matters: June 8, 2001

8 June 2001, Volume 1, Number 18
NEWSPAPER GROWTH CONTINUES... Over a ten-year period, an annual World Association of Newspapers (WAN) survey published on 4 June reports, print circulation of daily newspapers has continued to increase or stabilize in many countries, as in Croatia (11 percent) and Bulgaria (almost 4 percent). In countries where the decline of print circulation of dailies has been sharpest, it has generally started to slow down: Czech Republic (over 3 percent) and Hungary (2 percent). Russian newspaper sales topped world charts with a total of 2,635 (including 171 national dailies), an increase of 5 percent last year. In addition, the newspaper industry around the world now has more print titles and circulation. For the second year, newspaper ad income showed very good growth; in many countries the press is winning back market share from other media, particularly TV. Over the last five years, newspapers in 20 countries have also increased their share of the ad market, including in the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Lithuania. Ad share fell over five years -- by as many as 14.9 points in Russia and 10.7 points in Hungary. Countries where newspapers had the lowest share of the ad market included Poland (10.8 percent) and Russia (11.4 percent). (World Association of Newspapers, 4 June)

...SPURRED BY INTERNET. Huge increases in online readership, as shown in the WAN survey, suggest that the combination of print and electronic news and information distribution is expanding the audience for newspapers. For 31 countries with comparable data for 1999 and 2000, two-thirds showed an increased number of daily newspaper websites; remained stable in almost a third and dropped in only one. In many countries, the difference in online readership between the leading newspapers bears no resemblance in size to the difference in the circulations of their print editions, suggesting an additional benefit to being online market champion. The World Press Trends 2001 edition is available at or via e-mail: (World Association of Newspapers, 4 June)

FAMILY-ORIENTED TV LAUNCHED. Since 1 June the Armenian TV channel Armenhakob, whose test broadcasting started in January 2001, will now broadcast regularly. The TV company was established last year on the basis of a culture center existing in Yerevan since 1996 and founded by composer Hakob Jambazian with TV journalist Armen Amirian. Initially, the station will air four programs produced in-house. Foreign newscasts are slated for September. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 26 May-1 June)

DAILY RESUMES PUBLICATION. After a four-month break, the "Zhamanak" daily renewed publication on 30 May after it met registration requirements. ("Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter," 26 May-1 June)

AUTHORITIES CLOSE TWO INDEPENDENT TV STATIONS. Police and Communications Ministry officials on 6 June formally ordered the closure of the Gutb and Hayal TV companies, both based in the town of Guba north of Baku, Turan reported. The reason cited for the order was that neither company has official permission to broadcast, although both are formally registered with the Justice Ministry and have applied to the State Committee for TV and Radio to be allotted a frequency. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

LEADING OPPOSITION PAPER TARGET OF STATE TAKEOVER? According to several sources, the Azerbaijani authorities want to take control of the influential opposition newspaper, "Azadlig." The paper's leadership says the closure is due to financial difficulties. By levying heavy fines against the independent press, according to the "Democratic Congress Bulletin," the Aliyev government is forcing the independent press into "financial crisis," thereby setting the groundwork "for later purchase." The "Bulletin" reports that "according to local media sources, state authorities [President Aliev's son, Ilhan, who is also vice president of the State Oil Company] wants to purchase 'Azadlig' and make it a government newspaper." ("Democratic Congress Bulletin," 5 June)

WRITERS APPEAL FOR UNITY ON KARABAKH. A dozen prominent Azerbaijani writers made public on 30 May an appeal to opposition parties to desist from using the debate over how to resolve the Karabakh conflict as an opportunity to criticize the policies of the present Azerbaijani leadership or in a bid to come to power, Turan reported. The writers appealed to the opposition to pledge their support for President Heidar Aliev's statement that he will never sign a Karabakh peace agreement that violates Azerbaijan's national interests. They abjured a military solution to the Karabakh conflict and proposed as the basic principles of a peace accord the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory, self-government for Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan, and a commitment by both Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect the other's territorial integrity. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

COMMUNISTS SEE STATE TELEVISION AS THEIR 'MAIN IDEOLOGICAL OPPONENT.' Syarhey Kalyakin, leader of the opposition Belarusian Party of Communists, has said Belarusian Television is the party's "main ideological opponent," Belapan reported on 1 June. Kalyakin made the statement while explaining to a Hrodna branch of his party why he signed a declaration to coordinate his activities in the presidential campaign with four other possible presidential candidates -- Mikhail Chyhir, Syamyon Domash, Uladzimir Hancharyk, and Pavel Kazlouski. Kalyakin noted that his cooperation with the four gives his party the possibility to increase its popularity. According to Kalyakin, 50 percent of Belarusians do not know about the existence of the party, while 65 percent have never heard his name. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)

WRITERS HOLD CONGRESS. Some 400 members of the Union of Belarusian Writers held a congress in Minsk on 29 May, Belapan reported. The congress elected Volha Ipatava as the union's new head. Ipatava will replace Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu, who in June 1999 decided to remain abroad after having gone to Warsaw, arguing that the authorities were fabricating a case against him on charges of financial misdeeds. Nyaklyayeu, who subsequently lived in Poland and Finland, has recently returned to Belarus. Nyaklyayeu urged the congress to adopt a resolution supporting the democratic opposition in Belarus and condemning Alyaksandr Lukashenka as an illegitimate president, but delegates refused to discuss the issue. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)

PRESIDENT VETOES LAWS ON RADIO, TV LICENSING. On 6 June, President Havel vetoed a law recently passed by the parliament on the registration and the prolongation of radio and television license broadcasts, saying the law is "unfair," CTK reported. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said the bill is formulated to make it nearly impossible for those wishing to enter the broadcasting market to do so, thus putting existing broadcasters at an advantage. Spacek also said provisions in the bill setting a fee of 200 million crowns (nearly $5 million) for the extension of existing licenses to 12 years are far too high and hinders fair competition, considering that the fee for registration is only 50,000 crowns. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

MEDIA COUNCIL ELECTS CHAIRMAN. The new Czech Television Council, nominated last week by the Chamber of Deputies, elected Jan Mrzena, a stage director from Ceske Budejovice, as its new chairman on 30 May, CTK reported. In related news, Czech Television Interim-Director Jiri Balvin on 30 May told the new council that an audit conducted at Czech TV shows the need for "greater centralization" and "more controls" by management. Balvin said that, in general, the audit's results indicate that things are "neither good, nor bad" at Czech TV. The audit was demanded by Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party, which alleged during the December-January crisis at Czech TV that the network had been misusing funds. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

REPORTER WINS AWARD. Czech Radio Free Europe (RSE) journalist Jana Blazkova was awarded the "Novinarska krepelka" Annual Award, the highest award given to young professional journalists. This annual journalism award for young journalists is presented by the Czech Literary Fund. She was given the award in recognition of her reporting on a notorious building industry corruption scheme, the so-called H-system. Her reports helped hundreds of small investors to gain justice. (Czech Radio Free Europe, 6 June)

FUTURE HOST OF EUROVISION. National television company ETV informed the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) on 29 May of its decision to stage next year's Eurovision song contest, BNS reported. ETV agreed to the decision only after receiving adequate financial promises from the government and other circles to stage the contest. It appointed the head of its foreign relations department, Juhan Paadam, liaison officer and one of whose first tasks will be to prepare a visit of an EBU working group to Tallinn in June. ("RFE/RL Baltic States Report," 6 June)

JOURNALISTS SEEK REVIEW OF CIVIL CODE AMENDMENTS. The National Board of the Association of Hungarian Journalists appealed on 30 May to President Ferenc Madl, asking him to request the Constitutional Court to review the amendments to the Civil Code passed by the parliament one day earlier. According to these amendments, newspapers would be obliged to publish individuals' responses to articles that infringe on their "privacy rights." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

NEW PAPER IN JALAL-ABAD. The first issue of the independent Kyrgyz-Russian language weekly "Ferghana" appeared in Jalal-Abad on 6 June. It has a print run of 5,000. There are also plans for the paper to be published in Uzbek and Tajik as well. The first issue includes articles on the state language issue, the country's border problems, plus congratulations from Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary speaker Abdygany Erkebaev, Director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Oleg Panfilov, and Chairman of the independent Union of Uzbek Journalists Ruslan Sharipov. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 6 June)

WOMAN�S VIEW ON WOMEN�S ISSUES. Although there are many Kyrgyz women reporters and editors, they rarely reach high-level jobs, particularly in the regional media. (Central Asian Media Electronic List at

MONOPOLY FOR STATE PRINTER? Kyrgyzstan's independent newspapers believe that the state-run printing house, Uchkun, working at the government's bidding, restricts freedom of speech. (Central Asian Media Electronic List at

JOURNALISM CENTER LAUNCHES MEDIA PORTAL. On 28 May, the Independent Journalism Center launched Moldova-Azi, a new online media publication, the first interactive news source in Moldova to appear in Romanian, Russian, and English. The site provides interviews with politicians, businessmen, and representatives of civil society from around the country. The project is a cooperative effort by the Center, DNT Association (a local ISP), and the Institute of Public Policy. The project, funded by Soros Foundation Moldova, has been in preparation for six months. To view the portal, visit ("Moldova Media News," 4 June)

TV BROADCASTS ON WOMEN TRAFFICKING LAUNCHED. A 25-minute program about the trafficking of women was broadcast on Moldovan national television in May. The broadcast is part of a series produced by the Open World House (OWH) TV studio. Each program will feature individual stories of women-trafficking victims, and present commentaries by specialists. The goal of the series is to alert public opinion about the phenomenon, which has become widespread in Moldova, said a representative of OWH. Financial support for the program has been provided by the Moldovan office of the United Nations Development Program and the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau. ("Moldova Media News," 4 June)

TRANSDNIESTER OFFICIAL PROPOSES STATE NEWS SOURCE. According to Boris Akulov, the information minister of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic, the state budget cannot afford to subsidize up to fifteen regional periodicals. Instead, he proposed on 29 May, the creation of a single, comprehensive news source, to meet "all the information demands of Transdniestrians." According to unofficial sources, state officials have the authority before the end of the year -- when Transdniester presidential elections are slated -- to ban the publication of any periodical with a print run of under 1,000 copies. For more, see ("Moldova Media News," 4 June)

FIBER-OPTIC CABLE CASE. The district Prosecutors' Office in Gdansk has charged former Industry and Trade Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski with exceeding his powers and harming the public interest, PAP reported on 30 May. Niewiarowski served in the Solidarity-led cabinet of Hanna Suchocka in 1993. The former minister's case is linked with another investigation into the high-tech fiber-optic cable that was laid along the Polish stretch of [an oil] pipeline. The "Gazeta Wyborcza" daily disclosed last year that the potentially profitable cable -- not controlled by the Polish government -- has enough capacity to handle most of Russia's telecommunications traffic with the West. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

BAN ON FOREIGN CONTROL OF MEDIA COMPANIES TO APPLY ONLY TO NATIONAL TV CHANNELS, NEW AMENDMENT SAYS. According to an article in "Vedomosti" on 6 June, the bill on media has been amended by the Duma Information Policy Committee prior to its upcoming second reading to specify that foreigners will be prevented from owning a controlling interest only in television companies that broadcast to more than half of Russia's regions. That ban, which reflects statements by President Putin, would thus apply only to ORT, RTR, NTV, TV-6, and TNT. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

GLASNOST DEFENSE FUND SAYS RUSSIA DOES NOT HAVE FREE MEDIA. Speaking at a conference on the 10th anniversary of the Glasnost Defense Fund, that body's president, Aleksei Simonov, said that "the state monopoly on the mass media is moving toward its apogee and...the press itself acknowledges that it has sold out," Interfax reported on 1 June. As a result, Simonov said, public trust in the media has fallen four to five times from what it was a decade ago. He said that Russia lacks "the laws, traditions, and even the societal demand" for freedom of speech and of the press. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)

LESIN SAYS PROCESS OF ESTABLISHING FREE MEDIA DIFFICULT. In an interview published in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 5 June, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin said that the process of establishing media freedom has never been a simple matter in any country. Instead, "it is always accompanied by problems, unfortunately. And this, in our view, is a natural process." Lesin repeated that Moscow views the decision of the U.S. Congress to have RFE/RL begin broadcasting in Chechen as incorrect. "If tomorrow our Duma took a decision to broadcast in some dialect of local Indians and assigned Radio Russia to carry it out, I do not think that the Americans would consider this a correct step," Lesin said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June)

YASTRZHEMBSKII URGES JOURNALISTS TO SHOW 'GOOD SENSE' IN 'KURSK' COVERAGE. Presidential assistant Sergei Yastrzhembskii said on 30 May that journalists covering the raising of the "Kursk" submarine should balance good sense, a concern with secrecy, and openness, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

JAPANESE JOURNALIST DETAINED ON SUSPICION OF SPYING... The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk branch of the FSB detained at the airport there Ando Takasi, an NHK journalist, and confiscated his videotape, the RBK agency reported on 30 May. The FSB said that he had been photographing a secret military installation, but Takasi replied that he had not done so, at least not intentionally. The Russian Foreign Ministry reportedly has asked that Takasi be deported to Japan and barred from ever reentering Russia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

...WHILE TRIAL OF JOURNALIST ACCUSED OF SPYING POSTPONED. The third espionage trial of Pacific fleet environmental journalist Grigory Pasko was postponed from 4 to 20 June. Military authorities have been pursuing the investigative reporter for nearly four years on charges of espionage and revealing state secrets. Contrary to Russian law, prosecutors failed to appear at court to request the postponement, reported the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on 4 June. Instead, a printed notice on an inner door of the courthouse announced that the case was postponed until 20 June and military police blocking the court entrance told CPJ that the postponement was "for family reasons." In violation of the Russian Constitution, the charges against Pasko are based on a secret Ministry of Defense directive, according to another of Pasko's defense lawyers, reported the Bellona Institute of Norway. For more, see: (Center for Civil Society International, 5 June)

'NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA' EDITOR QUITS. Vitalii Tretyakov has quit as editor in chief and general director of "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Russian agencies reported on 6 June. Tretyakov told Interfax that he did so at the request of Berezovsky, who owns the paper. Tretyakov said that Berezovsky wants to refocus the paper to attract a broader audience instead of its current elite readership. Rumors circulated in Moscow on the same day that Tretyakov would be replaced by Tatyana Koshkareva, who earlier headed the information service at ORT, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

BEREZOVSKY SAYS ADS KEY TO FREE PRESS. In a letter published in "The Washington Post" on 6 June, embattled oligarch Boris Berezovsky said that "the main obstacle to a free press [in Russia] is that commercial advertising is too weak to pay for operating expenses of the media, particularly in the provinces. As a result, the press is squeezed between" the government and private owners. Berezovsky said that the cost of making the local press in Russian financially sustainable is "only about $30 million a year" and that he plans to help promote such aid to these media outlets. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

GUSINSKY PLEDGES TO FIGHT ON... Embattled media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky said that he will continue to play a role on the Russian media scene for a long time to come because the process of liquidating Media-MOST will be long and difficult, Interfax reported on 30 May. One indication of that was a decision announced by the Moscow city court on the same day that found that a lower court had failed to inform Media-MOST lawyers in a timely fashion about a hearing date. The Moscow City Court ordered that the lower court rehear the case involving the transfer of shares held by Media-MOST into other hands. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

...GIVES AWAY EKHO MOSKVY SHARES BEFORE COURT ORDER... Aleksei Venediktov, the editor in chief of Ekho Moskvy radio, said on 1 June that Vladimir Gusinsky has given the journalists at that station his 14.5 percent share in Ekho Moskvy in advance of a court decision liquidating the Media-MOST holding company, Russian and Western agencies reported. As a result, the station's journalists now control 42.6 percent of the station's shares, with Gazprom having only 25 percent plus one share. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)

...WHILE FEW CHANGE VIEWING HABITS AFTER NTV TAKEOVER. A poll conducted by ROMIR-Gallup International and reported by Interfax on 6 June shows that 63.7 percent of Russians said that the change in the leadership and staff at NTV has not had an impact on their viewing habits. Just under 10 percent said they now watch NTV somewhat less often, and only 4.3 percent said they will no longer watch NTV. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

LACK OF MONEY STOPS OSTANKINO TOWER RECONSTRUCTION. Anvar Shamuzafarov, the president of Gosstroi, the state construction committee, told Interfax on 6 June that restoration of the Ostankino television tower that was damaged by fire last year has stopped because there is no money to pay for it. He said that Gosstroi had hoped for assistance from the government or a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development but that neither has been forthcoming. Meanwhile, a 200-meter radio mast collapsed in Angarsk near Irkutsk on 6 June, ITAR-TASS reported. That mast, which was constructed in 1938, beamed much of the radio broadcasts to eastern Siberia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June)

REGIONAL MEDIA UNDER THREAT. Even more than in Moscow, the media in Russia's regions are now under threat as a result of official pressure and legal cases that frequently drive recalcitrant editors out of business, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 1 June. The Moscow paper pointed to a recent case in Tomsk where an editor was sentenced to pay 220,000 rubles ($7,300) -- far more than he or his paper could afford. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)

NEWSPAPERS JOIN WAHHABI WITCH-HUNT. Local newspapers in Kabardino-Balkaria are finding it impossible to remain impartial in the face of mounting religious conflict across the North Caucasus. They are gradually giving voice to state propaganda which blames extremist Wahhabi groups for anything from unemployment to matricide. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 6 June)

RUSSIA PLANS TO RAISE AT G-8 HATE GROUPS' USE OF INTERNET. "Diplomatic sources" told Interfax on 5 June that Moscow plans to urge the G-8 at the Genoa summit to issue a statement condemning the use of the Internet by hate groups to incite racial, ethnic, and religious animosities. The sources noted that the number of such pages has increased 10 times over the past three years alone, from 80 such pages in 1997 to some 800 in 2000. The sources indicated that they included sites sponsored by Chechen groups in this list. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June)

INTERNET FILLED WITH ILLEGAL ANTI-SEMITIC SITES. In violation of the Russian criminal code, dozens of Russian websites propagate anti-Semitism and racial hatred, according to a new report "Anti-Semitism on the Russian Internet" which finds that the sites "represent a broad range of political orientations and social backgrounds...[including] Orthodox Christian groups, pagans, leftists, pseudo-intellectuals, and monarchists." The UCSJ report is available at (Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry, 6 June)

RUSSIAN MAY BE LATINIZED EVENTUALLY. Several scholars suggested that Russia itself may be forced to introduce a Latin script in place of Cyrillic for Russian just as Tatarstan is now planning to do with Tatar, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 31 May. The scholars said that the Internet and other communications technologies will likely push Moscow to do that sometime in the next several decades. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)

GUILD OF JOURNALISTS COVERING RELIGION SET UP. "Nezavisimaya gazeta-religii" reported on 30 May that a Guild of Journalists Covering Religion has been set up within the Media Union headed by television journalist Aleksandr Lyubimov. The new group will seek to promote professional journalistic standards in covering religious questions and protect journalists from arbitrary actions by religious groups or the state. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)

MINISTER ON NEW BROADCASTING ACT. The new Broadcasting Act will be introduced in parliament in 15 to 20 days, Federal Telecommunications Minister Boris Tadic told Radio B92 on 25 May. "After the law has been passed, within about two months the Broadcasting Council of Serbia, an independent regulatory body, will be established, which will invite tenders for frequency allocation," Tadic said. ("ANEM Media Update," 19-25 May)

POLICE DETAIN MILOSEVIC MEDIA CRONY. Police detained Zoran Jevdjevic in Belgrade on 31 May on a court order after the former director of the state-run Tanjug news agency ignored 11 summons to appear in court in conjunction with a lawsuit by several of his former subordinates, "Danas" reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)

FORMER MINISTER ARRESTED FOR MISUSE OF TV EQUIPMENT. Former Serbian Finance Minister Borislav Milacic and two others have been arrested on 19 May, B92 reported, on accusations of theft and customs fraud concerning importing technical equipment worth some $2.5 million for eight TV stations in Serbia founded by the Socialist Party of Serbia. ("ANEM Media Update," 19-25 May)

DHL SUES MAGAZINE EDITOR, JOURNALIST FOR DEFAMATION. DHL International Beograd brought charges and demanded payment of fines on 22 May against the editor of the weekly magazine "Reporter" and a staff journalist for damages through defamation, Belgrade daily "Blic" reported. The charge alleges that a 28 March "Reporter" article which "implied political connections between" DHL with the "former regime represented by Mira Markovic," clearly intending, in the opinion of the plaintiff, to impair the reputation and business activities of DHL. ("ANEM Media Update," 19-25 May)

JOURNALISTS SHOULD MAKE UP THEIR OWN MIND ON GENDER ISSUES. Despite the presence of around 70 women�s NGOs in the country, Tajik male journalists show little interest or understanding of gender issues. (Central Asian Media Electronic List at

GONGADZE'S MOTHER DEMANDS FINAL AUTOPSY. In a letter to President Leonid Kuchma, the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) expressed indignation over measures taken by the Ukrainian judicial authorities to compel the mother of murdered journalist Heorhiy Gongadze to bury her son's corpse. RSF also asked the Prosecutor-General's Office to fulfil Alexandra Gongadze's request that a final autopsy on the body be conducted in the presence of European experts, before the burial of the remains. According to RSF, Mrs. Gongadze's lawyer said on 31 May 2001 that the Prosecutor-General's Office has ordered the transfer of the body definitively identified as Gongadze's to the Kyiv mayor's office "for them to deal with." If Mrs. Gongadze does not soon claim the body for burial in her son's hometown of Lviv, it will be buried by the Kyiv mayor's office. Mrs. Gongadze sent a letter to the Prosecutor-General's Office, stating that she was not refusing to bury her son, but requested a final expert evaluation be made by European experts. (Reporters Without Borders, 5 June)

WOMEN�S EDITIONS: A CITADEL OF TRADITIONALISM. Traditional views on social roles of men and women where the woman is fully responsible for children and family predominate in the media. (Central Asian Media Electronic List at

FIRST PROTEST AT CENSORSHIP? An article with blank spaces instead of words prohibited by censorship has appeared in a Samarkand newspaper. (Central Asian Media Electronic List at

'MEMORIAL'S' NORTH CAUCASUS WEBSITE. The veteran Russian human rights organization "Memorial" has organized a new website with extensive information on the North Caucasus region, "Kavkazskiy Uzel." E-mail: or see

EUROPEAN MEDIA INSTITUTE LAUNCHES UKRAINIAN MEDIA BULLETIN. The European Institute for the Media (EIM) has started publication of the online "Ukrainian Media Bulletin." It is divided into the following categories: media news; media and government; media law; media conferences; and new media technology. The new bulletin is based on information from the EIM Ukrainian Bureau and a network of Ukrainian correspondents. The "Ukrainian Media Bulletin" is part of the EIM program, partly funded by the Commission of the European Union. The "Ukrainian Media Bulletin" will be published in English, Russian, and Ukrainian. Contact Ljudmila von Berg at (European Institute for the Media, 30 May)

'THREE COUNTRIES -- ONE PEOPLE'? According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 5 June, the Congress of Slavic Peoples that took place in Moscow on 1-2 June assembled under the slogan "Three Countries -- One People." But the paper said that it remains uncertain whether that is accurate. It noted that the congress was really about reestablishing the common "psychological space" broken at the time of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. That collapse of a common space has been intensified by the rise of national media that often ignore one another and create separate identities where they had not existed or been very strong before, the paper suggested. The paper said that for many countries, Russia is now an unknown quantity and "for Russia, contemporary Ukraine and Belarus are also terra incognita." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June)