10 August 2001, Volume
INTERNET: GLOBAL AND LOCAL.
Internet policy, reports the "San Francisco Chronicle," should be shaped on a local basis: policymakers need to overcome their lack of information on its key technical aspects and also need to "appreciate the critical role of competition, especially in the telecommunications market, as well as governmental accountability." Local users should also become involved in shaping Internet policies "to address the persistent problem of the digital divide" between the haves and the have-nots. While most countries are now connected to the Internet, it is still difficult to give citizens affordable and effective access. "The Internet -- architecturally open and decentralized, abundant, inexpensive, and user-controlled -- is a medium suited for the promotion of open, democratic societies and is increasingly central to economic growth and human development worldwide." See http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/07/10 /ED187218.DTL ("San Francisco Chronicle," 10 July)JOURNALISM PRIZE: DEVELOPMENT AND DEMOCRACY.
The International Federation of Journalists is seeking applicants for the Natali Prize for Journalism: Excellence in Reporting Human Rights, Democracy and Development. The prize is awarded to print journalists who have demonstrated a striking insight and particular dedication to the reporting of human rights issues within the context of the development process. Two prizes worth 10,000 euros ($8,950) each are awarded to outstanding reporting on human rights and development by print journalists from the European Union and from the developing world. Application deadline is 26 October. For more, contact: Bettina.firstname.lastname@example.org or Isabella.email@example.com or see http://www.ifj.org (International Federation of Journalists, 6 August)
NEW DECREE LIFTS SOME MEDIA CONTROLS.
On 6 August, Azerbaijan President Heidar Aliyev signed a decree that increases government involvement in the media. The decree abolished the 1992 law, which set up the Chief Office for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press and Other Mass Media under the Cabinet of Ministers, another law from that year which set up military censorship, as well as a 1993 law that introduced state control over distribution of all information. The new decree asserts that Azerbaijan will now follow international standards in its media law and freed all media from payment of VAT tax. (Azerbaijan Journalists' Trade Union, 7 August)
U.S. CONDEMNS OFFICIALS' SEIZURE OF EQUIPMENT.
The U.S. State Department said on 3 August that Belarusian authorities have seized American computer equipment being used by a nongovernmental organization and an independent newspaper, Reuters reported. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement that the equipment was taken by security forces from the newspaper "Volny Horad" in the town of Krichev and from a resource center under the terms of presidential decree No. 8, "imposed by the regime to limit foreign assistance to the democratic opposition." Boucher said Belarusian officials "have a duty either to return the equipment to its intended recipients, or to the U.S. -- and failing that, they are obligated to refund its value in dollars." He said the assistance was granted through a 1996 bilateral agreement. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August)MINISTRY WARNS PAPERS AGAINST PUBLISHING DATA ON UNREGISTERED GROUPS.
The Justice Ministry issued a statement on 3 August warning newspapers that publication of information about unregistered parties, trade unions, or other organizations constitutes a criminal offense, Belapan reported. The ministry said that on 25 and 27 July the newspaper "Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta" published articles about the formation of an organization called Nezavisimoye Nablyudeniye (Independent Observation). The ministry pointed out that this organization has not been registered, and that the Movement for Democratic and Free Elections also is not, though it too has been mentioned in the paper. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August)RFE/RL DOUBLES BROADCASTING.
RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine announced on 6 August that RFE/RL broadcasts to Belarus have expanded from four to eight hours per day on a variety of shortwave frequencies and from seven to ten hours on mediumwave via affiliate Radio Baltic Waves in Lithuania. RFE/RL's Belarus Service is also expanding the number of hours of original programming it produces, from three to five hours per day. Dine said that "the expanded broadcast schedule was launched today, one month in advance of Belarus' presidential election on 9 September, so that RFE/RL can better provide the citizens of Belarus with comprehensive, balanced news, and analyses they will need to make an informed choice when they go to the polls." The doubling of broadcasts to Belarus is currently scheduled to continue until 30 September. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 6 August)
PAPER TO BE CHARGED WITH INSULTING MACEDONIA?
As of 3 August, the public prosecutor of Croatia, Radovan Otrinski, has not yet approved initiation of criminal proceedings against four journalists of the daily "Nacional" for allegedly insulting Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and the state of Montenegro. According to his deputy, Dragan Novosel, permission from the state of Montenegro to carry out these legal proceedings before a Croatian court must first be obtained. Novosel also said that the uncertainty must be resolved whether Montenegro was the type of state to which the provisions of the Croatian law on Protection of the Reputation of a Foreign State and its President could be applied. The criminal charge was brought against the daily "Nacional" due to articles that refer to the Djukanovic in connection with cigarette smuggling in the Balkans. ("ANEM Media Update," 1-3 August)
OFFICIAL SAYS NO PROOF OF CLANDESTINE CHECHEN RADIO STATION EXISTS.
Georgian National Communications Control Commission official Temur Dzagnidze told Caucasus Press on 8 August that his agency has been unable to trace the Chechen radio station that Russian officials claim is broadcasting to Chechnya from the Georgian village of Duisi. Dzagnidze said either that radio station does not exist, or its signal is so weak that only local radio engineers in eastern Georgia could trace it. ("RFE/RL Newsline,"8 August)FBI ARRIVES TO ASSIST IN INVESTIGATION OF JOURNALIST'S MURDER.
An official from the FBI's office in Ankara has arrived in Tbilisi at the invitation of President Eduard Shevardnadze to assist in the investigation of the murder of Georgian TV journalist Georgi Sanaia, Caucasus Press reported on 1 August. After meeting the same day with Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze to hear an update on the investigation, Shevardnadze told journalists that if necessary more FBI agents will be invited to join the investigation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)JOURNALISTS' GROUP CONCERNED AT CENSORSHIP.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its concern about the 1 July decision not to broadcast the Rustavi 2 TV program "60 Minutes," particularly as it was about misappropriation of public funds within the Ministry of Health. (International Federation of Journalists, 3 August)
RUSSIAN TO GAIN CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE?
Meeting in Sochi at the CIS summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev said that the Kyrgyz parliament might soon amend the country's constitution to formally designate Russian as an official language, ITAR-TASS reported. In a bid to stem the outmigration of qualified Russian personnel from Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz parliament last year adopted legislation giving Russian the status of an official language. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)JAILED JOURNALIST IN HOSPITAL.
After being held in the regional prison of Jalal-Abad in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic for more than two months, Samagan Orozaliev, a freelance TV journalist facing extortion charges, was transferred to the regional hospital in Jalal-Abad on 31 July. He was suffering from severe heart problems. Orozaliev, a local TV journalist from Jalal-Abad, was arrested on 28 May. Police officers found $300 in his clothing, money that he allegedly received after blackmailing a local politician/businessman. The journalist claims that he was framed because he was preparing the publication of material critical of Ergesh Torobaev, a parliamentary deputy and the director of the Jalal-Abad electric utility. (Internews Kyrgyzstan, 2 August)INDEPENDENT MEDIA TRIES TO STAY THAT WAY.
Independent media and political organizations in Kyrgyzstan are opposed to a Ministry of Justice re-registration campaign, initiated on 5 April, considering it an effort to cut back on freedom of expression. On 30 July, a Bishkek city arbitration court turned down a lawsuit against the Ministry of Justice and legal wrangling is likely to go on for months. (Eurasianet.org, 3 August)
GOVERNMENT CLOSES DOWN PRESA.
On 30 July, the Moldovan government disbanded the Presa media concern that since 1997 had united a state news agency, a publishing house, and a newspaper office building. From now on, Universul publishing house, Moldpres news agency, and Casa Presei -- which houses the editorial offices of most Moldovan newspapers -- will function as separate state entities to be controlled directly by the State Chancellery. Valeriu Saharneanu, chairman of the Moldovan Journalists' Union, called the decision "an attempt by the government to gain more leverage over the news media." He called on the authorities to allow the publications currently renting space in Casa Presei to privatize their offices. ("Moldova Media News," 2 August)STATE NEWS AGENCY CHIEF AT WORK DESPITE STAFF PROTESTS.
Boris Marian took over as new director of the government news agency Moldpres on 30 July, despite staff protests. In July, most Moldpres reporters went on strike to protest the appointment of Marian whom they accused of "servility to the Communist authorities." Since then, four of seven Moldpres reporters have resigned. Marian said that all the reporters who had participated in the strike will have to pass a test, and only "the best" will be rehired. Marian is the former editor in chief of the government newspaper "Nezavisimaya Moldova." ("Moldova Media News," 2 August)MEDIA LEGISLATION AMENDED.
Four new amendments to Moldova's media legislation took effect in July. A new article was introduced in the administrative code, imposing fines of up to 2700 lei ($210) for violations of the Access to Information Law. A new criminal code article provides for prison sentences of up to three years for intentional failure to grant access to information that results in harm to the public interest, health, security, or environment. An amendment to the Press Law bans foreign financing of Moldovan publications. The Law on Advertising was modified to allow publication of advertisements in the language of the client's choice, rather than only in the state language. (Moldova Media News, 2 August)'MIRAGE OF TRANSPARENCY.'
On 27 July, a report titled "The Mirage of Transparency" was published by the Access-Info Center for Promotion of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information. The authors surveyed more than 200 central and local public authorities and analyzed their regulations and procedures for granting access to public information. Although some state institutions surveyed in the report have new mechanisms designed to ease public access to information, many officials do not know what legal provisions exist or simply ignore them. The report recommends that officials be educated on their responsibilities and the public should be informed about its rights. Free access to information, according to Access-Info, is a way of controlling the activities of authorities and public institutions. ("Moldova Media News," 2 August)
TV HEAD SUMS UP STATE OF MASS MEDIA.
In an interview published in "Obshchaya gazeta," No. 31, Oleg Poptsov, the president of TVTsentr, argues that since the fall of communism, four trends have emerged that threaten the development of Russia's independent mass media. First, the cohesiveness of the Russian media as a professional community has been destroyed over the last two years. Second, the mass media have lost their function as a means of expressing public opinion. Third, the mass media have become overcommercialized. And fourth, society itself has become de-intellectualized and degraded. As a result, Poptsov concludes, public opinion about Russia's mass media is that "the second oldest profession has now moved closer to the first oldest than ever before." ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 6 August)INFORMATION ON TV/RADIO LICENSING SYSTEM.
The European Audiovisual Observatory has just published a report in English, French, and German describing the Russian licensing system for radio and TV broadcasts, produced by the Moscow Media Law and Policy Center. For a copy, contact director Andrei Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or see http://www.obs.coe.int/online_publication/reports/ru_sklyarova.html. (Internews Russia, 8 August)HEAD OF LARGEST AD FIRM SAYS NTV CONFLICT HURT EVERYONE'S AD REVENUES.
In an interview with "Vedomosti" published on 6 August, Media Service-Video International (MSVI) General Director Sergei Vasilev said that the conflict over NTV has negatively affected the TV advertising market, in part because the conflict "severely hampered not only plans to increase advertising rates but also [slowed] the growth of the market overall." According to Vasilev, last year the TV advertising market should have totaled $1 billion, but it reached only $200 million. Vasilev added that the move by Yevgeni Kiselev and his team from NTV to TV-6 has not yet attracted new advertisers to TV-6. MSVI is a member of the Video International group of companies that provide advertising for ORT, RTR, and TV-6 and was formerly headed by current Media Minister Mikhail Lesin. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)MEDIA-MOST VETERANS RESURFACE WITH NEW PUBLICATIONS.
Former "Itogi" editor Sergei Parkhomenko and former "Segodnya" editor Mikhail Berger plan to launch new publications in the fall, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 August. According to the radio station, Parkhomenko's new publication will be called "Ezhenedelnyi zhurnal," while Berger's will be called "Delovaya khronika." Both publications have been registered at the Justice Ministry as being published by the "Taburet" publishing center (see below). Both Parkhomenko and Berger left their publications, which had been published by Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST Group, after Gazprom-Media assumed control of them. Meanwhile, the new management of NTV is trying to launch its own version of programs made popular by former NTV veterans such as Yevgeni Kiselev's "Itogi" and Svetlana Sorokina's "Glas Naroda," the website lenta.ru reported on 3 August. This fall, in the place of "Itogi" will be a new show hosted by Leonid Parfenov and in place of "Glas Naroda" a show called "Svoboda Slova" hosted by Savik Shuster. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August)GUSINSKY TO OWN STAKE IN NEW PUBLICATIONS.
"Kommersant-Daily" has provided more details about the Taburet media holding group that will be publishing former "Itogi" editor Sergei Parkhomenko's and former "Segodnya" editor Mikhail Berger's new weeklies. According to the daily, Parkhomenko and Berger, who are the founders of Taburet, want to maintain strict secrecy about the legal and financial details of their new project. But, according to unidentified sources, both Western and Russian investors, including Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky, will hold shares in the new publishing company. According to "Kommersant-Daily," Berger, whose new publication will be business-oriented, had asked for money from Gusinsky to start a new political newspaper, but Gusinsky declined. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)NEW BUYER EMERGES FOR EKHO MOSKVY SHARES?
The Russian Media Group, whose holdings include the radio stations Russian Radio, Dinamit FM, and Radio Monte-Carlo among others, has declared its intention to obtain a 9.5 percent package of shares in Ekho Moskvy from Gazprom-Media, "Vremya novostei" reported on 7 August. According to the daily, Ekho Moskvy General Director Yuri Fedutinov said his reaction to the news is extremely negative, and that the appearance of a new buyer could further complicate the already complicated negotiations taking place between the radio station and Gazprom-Media. Gazprom-Media, meanwhile, called the announcement a "PR action" and said that it will sell the 9.5 percent stake on offer only to former Economy Minister Yevgeni Yasin, upon conclusion of an agreement that is due shortly. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)JOURNAL EXPLAINS PUTIN'S INTEREST IN OPINION POLLS...
Writing in "Obshchaya gazeta" No. 31, analyst Dmitry Furman argues that the reason Vladimir Putin's administration is so interested in the president's personal approval rating is because they see the rating as a kind of index of political stability. According to Furman, Putin does not follow his approval rating in the same way European or U.S. political leaders do, since he is not overly concerned about winning re-election in 2004. Instead, "if Putin sees a high approval rating, he is reassured that society is calm, and hence that he is doing the right thing." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)...AND PREDICTS THAT POLLS MAY BE SUBJECTED TO MORE MANAGEMENT.
Furman also suggests that because Putin and his administration have such a tremendous influence over the approval ratings -- a result of their ability to "restrict or shut down any media outlets that 'lower' his rating," such as Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST outlets -- they do not mean what they do in more "uncontrolled democracies as the U.S. and France." Furman concludes that the next natural step in managing the president's approval rating will be that if the rating starts to decline, the administration will question not its own course but the accuracy of the polling agencies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER TO OPEN NEW BUREAUS ACROSS RUSSIA.
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" director Aleksandr Gorbenko told ITAR-TASS on 3 August that the government newspaper is planning to open new bureaus in 11 cities, including the capitals of the seven federal districts as well the cities of Krasnodar, Perm, and Novosibirsk. A new bureau was opened in Kaliningrad on 3 August. According to Gorbenko, a survey revealed that the Russian central media has practically been absent from Kaliningrad, and the new bureau will attempt to rectify that situation. The 10 other new bureaus are part of a regional restructuring of "Rossiiskaya gazeta," according to Gorbenko. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 8 August)THE JOURNALIST VERSUS THE CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION.
A Moscow city court on 6 August postponed proceedings in a slander suit filed by the Central Election Committee (TsIK) against journalist Aleksandr Minkin until 6 September due to Minkin's ill health, Interfax reported. Minkin is accused of defaming the reputation of the committee with an article he wrote last January for "Moskovskii komsomolets." In the article, Minkin suggests that the TsIK has transformed itself into a power ministry that can issue anticonstitutional directives, prevent politicians from running for office, and decide how many and which parties should take part in elections. Minkin writes, "TsIK is only pretending to serve the people, but, in fact, it is loyally working for authorities." The suit was initiated by TsIK Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, but Minkin's lawyer Geraldina Lyubarskaya said Minkin had in mind not Veshnyakov personally, but the defective electoral system as a whole. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)MORE PRESSURE ON MEDIA ALLEGED AS SECOND IRKUTSK ELECTION ROUND NEARS.
Irkutsk State Television and Radio has denied allegations that it is softening its news coverage in response to pressure from the oblast administration not to darken the mood of the electorate during the lead-up to the 19 August gubernatorial elections, the website strana.ru reported on 6 August. The allegations arose in connection with the lack of coverage by the station of the "sensational" finding by court medical experts that alcohol was found in the blood of the commander of a plane that crashed over Irkutsk on 3 July. The allegations are only the most recent in a series of accusations lodged against incumbent Irkutsk Governor Boris Govorin for pressure against the media. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 8 August)OMSK JEWISH COMMUNITY SUES PAPER FOR ANTI-SEMITIC JOKE.
Members of the Omsk city Jewish organization Shalom 21st Century have sent a complaint to the Prosecutor-General's Office of the central district of Omsk demanding that it investigate the publication of an anti-Semitic joke in a local newspaper, according to a 1 August report by the Inform-Region news agency. The plaintiffs named Vladimir Kem, the editor of the Omsk newspaper "Novoe Obozrenie," as responsible for the publication. The incitement of ethnic or religious hatred is illegal in Russia. (UCSJ, fsumonitor.com, 9 August)RUSSIA'S INTERNET LAGS.
A financial analyst who follows information and communications technology issues in Central and Eastern Europe says that Russia lacks a coherent government policy and national strategy to promote the Internet, and thus lags behind neighboring countries in its use of the Internet. Svetlana Issaeva, a senior analyst with Pyramid Research, a subsidiary of the Economist Intelligence Unit, told an RFE/RL audience that, before 1998, the Russian government largely ignored the Internet. This has changed over the past two years, as revenue levels for Internet service providers (ISP's) have increased and the government looked for ways to tax that revenue and control access to Internet content. Issaeva said that while Internet regulations are currently set by five national agencies, seven Duma committees, the president's office, and the federal security agency, the FSB, few legislative or regulatory proposals have in fact become law, and many of the adopted laws seem to be an attempt to "contain the natural, market-based development of the Internet." Issaeva expressed concern that Russia has not treated Internet development in a liberal fashion and that this could hinder future growth. She said that today there are 30 million users or potential users of the Internet in Russia, on the basis of a survey that found that 20 percent of adults in Russia had heard of the Internet. That survey further showed that 72 percent of Internet usage takes place in offices and only 28 percent in homes -- due to high local access costs for private citizens. Issaeva said that 35 percent of Internet users in Russia are looking for news online, and that e-mail and chat rooms are extremely popular. (RFE/RL, 3 August)SPRING MEDIA ANALYSIS.
The Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF) issued its spring 2001 media analysis, entitled "Primary Review of the Situation in the Russian Mass Media." The report is now available on GDF's website: http://www.gdf.ru/analitika/2001/obsor/ob02-01e.shtml For more, contact email@example.com. (Glasnost Defense Foundation, 3 August)
FORMER STATE BROADCASTING DIRECTOR CHARGED.
After a six-month investigation, the Belgrade district Prosecutor's Office on 3 August charged Dragoljub Milanovic, the former general director of Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), with criminally violating public safety during the night of 23- 24 April 1999, when NATO bombed RTS television headquarters, killing 16 RTS employees. If convicted, Milanovic faces a possible prison sentence of up to 15 years. ("ANEM Media Update," 1-3 August)MEDIA STILL UNDER POLITICAL PRESSURE.
Acting General Director of Television Novi Sad Aleksandar Kravic said on 3 August that the Democratic Opposition of Serbia had not kept their pre-election promise that the media would be freed from political pressure. "Radio Television of Serbia resembles a giant dying dinosaur, around which a battle is going on about who will be the one that will control it, although it is on the verge of being dead," Kravic told the Novi Sad daily "Dnevnik." ("ANEM Media Update," 1-3 August)STATE RADIO/TV TO RESTART SEARCH FOR NEW EDITORS.
RTS General Director Aleksandar Crkvenjakov told daily "Blic" on 30 July that the disputed search for candidates to become RTS's next editor of Radio Beograd Channel Two, and the next editor in chief of news programs, will be repeated. He also announced that candidate searches would be repeated for all positions at Radio Television Novi Sad, FoNet reported. ("ANEM Media Update," 30-31 July)VOJVODINA WANTS TWO TV AND THREE RADIO STATIONS.
The Executive Council of Vojvodina prepared a draft request on 28 July to demand that the Serbian government allocate two channels to Television of Novi Sad and three channels for Radio Novi Sad, the Vojvodina Information Secretary told "Magyar Szo." Vojvodina public TV needs two channels to allow it to devote one channel to Serbian-language broadcasts and the other channel for the languages of ethnic minorities. As for radio, there would be one station each for 24-hour Serbian and Hungarian, while the third station would be reserved for the languages of other national communities. ("ANEM Media Update," 30-31 July)STATE PRINTING HOUSE MANDATE CONTESTED.
On 28 July, the Democratic Party demanded that the federal administration examine the contested granting of the state printing house license to the Podgorica-based newspaper "Dan." The party claims that the Federal Directorate for Commodity Reserves had assigned a Solna printing press to "Dan" under the Momir Bulatovic administration, and that "Dan" also received newsprint free of charge at that time. Democratic Party officials claimed "Dan" never paid anything for rental of the printing press, and furthermore that it owed about 800,000 German marks for newsprint. "To make the scandal even worse, the paper 'Dan' is being published by the company 'Dan graf,' which is owned by three persons, of which two belong to Momir Bulatovic's new political party. Thus, it appears that the federal administration, that is, the citizens of Serbia, are providing funds for publishing a private newspaper from Podgorica," according to the statement. The Democratic Party called on the new government to annul the Bulatovic administration's decisions and enable private entrepreneurs from Podgorica to try their luck under market conditions. ("ANEM Media Update," 30-31 July)HEALTH MINISTER: 'I WILL SUE!'
Serbian Health Minister Obren Joksimovic told the daily "Vecernje novosti" on 31 July that he would bring criminal charges against the daily "Danas" and the FoNet news agency, because "Danas" identified him on 26 July in a 1998 FoNet archive photograph as one of those who had stood in line to get a signature from Mirjana Markovic at the Belgrade Book Fair. The "Danas" editorial committee said on 30 July that the man in the photo was not Joksimovic and apologized to Joksimovic. FoNet news agency, however, issued a statement that the photograph was authentic, and that it had not been edited. FoNet published the photo once, on 22 October 1998, with an note that said: "Yugoslav Left President Mirjana Markovic signing copies of 'Decathlon', her latest book, at the Prosveta stand during the 43rd International Book Fair." ("ANEM Media Update," 30-31 July)VISHNU COMMUNITY RIGHT TO REPLY DENIED.
Keston News Service has been repeatedly rebuffed in its attempts to ask two of Serbia's leading media organizations about charges by the local Vishnu faith community that they have been unable to gain the right to reply to what they regard as slanderous coverage of their community. A member of the board of the Independent Journalists� Association of Serbia told Keston that a media campaign against "so-called 'sects'" is underway, reflecting "rising nationalism and xenophobia" in Serbian society. (Keston News Service, 31 July)
JOURNALISTS COMPLAIN OF POLICE BEATING DURING PUTIN VISIT.
A group of Crimean journalists issued a joint statement on 6 August complaining of an attack on Yevhen Rybki, the editor of the Sevastopol daily "Melitopolskie Novosti," in the city during last week's visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, dpa reported. The statement said police beat Rybki "for no good reason" and then charged him with resisting arrest. He was detained by police and interrogated for six hours. Ukraine's Internal Affairs Ministry said it was not immediately aware of the incident. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August)
CLOSED URGENCH TV STATION EVICTED...
Following a 28 July session of the Interdepartmental Coordinating Commission headed by Vice Prime Minister Hamidullo Karomatov, the personnel of the closed ALC-TV were asked "kindly" to quit the building where the company had its offices. Before Uzbekistan's November 1999 parliamentary and presidential elections, the authorities shut down the private TV company ALC-TV in Urgench. Despite several court appeals, the decision to liquidate the company remained in force. (Union of Independent Journalists of Uzbekistan, 1 August)...FORMER DIRECTOR FLEES COUNTRY.
Former ALC-TV Director Shukhrat Babadjanov has reportedly fled Uzbekistan to escape government persecution, according to the BBC and Radio Liberty as reported by Internews and eurasianet.org on 8 August. Officials of the Tashkent prosecutor's office had told Babadjanov unofficially in late July that it had opened an investigation against him for falsification of documents. According to some independent journalists, the case against Babadjanov is linked to the Uzbekistan government's unwillingness to grant a license to ALC-TV. Babadjanov was due to appear at the prosecutor's office for an appointment on 6 August. After Babadjanov didn't appear for the interrogation, journalists began to look for him. (Union of Independent Journalists of Uzbekistan, 1 August; Eurasianet.org, 8 August)
AZERBAIJAN TRADE UNION: NEW WEB ADDRESS.
As of 1 August, the Azerbaijan Journalists Trade Union website has a new address: http://www.juhiaz.org. (Azerbaijan Journalists Trade Union, 1 August)