22 October 2001, Volume
NEW CENTER FOR JOURNALISTS IN 'DANGEROUS REGIONS.'
The International Federation of Journalists, which represents over 500,000 journalists in 100 countries, has announced the launch of a special help and advice center for journalists working in dangerous regions. The project was realized in cooperation with foreign correspondents in Brussels and the Belgian Journalists Association. For information, contact Journalists @ Your Service, email: email@example.com (IFJ Press Release, 12 October)SEPTEMBER MEDIA SURVEY ISSUED.
The September 2001 issue of the European Institute for the Media Newsletter on media developments in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has been issued. It includes information in five categories for each country: media news; media and government; media law; media conferences; and new media technology. Data is provided by EIM reporters in 12 countries of the former Soviet Union that are now members of the CIS. The EIM bears sole responsibility for the content. The project is partly funded by the European Commission. (European Institute for the Media, 12 October)
OSCE OFFICIAL, U.S. DIPLOMAT EXPRESS CONCERN OVER HARASSMENT OF JOURNALISTS...
Speaking at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 4 October, the OSCE's representative for media freedom, Freimut Duve, said that "it appears more journalists are in prison" now in Azerbaijan than at any time since that country declared its independence 10 years ago," Turan reported on 10 October. Duve said the situation has deteriorated "dramatically" since mid-September, adding, "We have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of journalists who have been targets of the government's most recent crackdown." At the same session, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE David T. Johnson endorsed Duve's assessment of the situation and said the U.S. "will continue to stress to the government of Azerbaijan...the vital importance of respecting the freedom and independence of non-governmental print and electronic media." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)...WHILE POLICE IN BAKU DISPERSE JOURNALISTS' PROTEST.
On 10 October, police in Baku used force to disperse an unsanctioned demonstration against government pressure on the media by some 40 journalists, Turan reported. The same day, the Azerbaijani Council of Editors, which is made up of the heads of leading media outlets, addressed an appeal to Azerbaijan's president, Heidar Aliev, to release imprisoned journalists on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence. Meanwhile, the independent newspaper "Azadlyg" on 10 October quoted Eldar Ibragimov, a parliamentary deputy representing the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party, as saying that both "Azadlyg" and the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" should be closed down. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)TWO JAILED JOURNALISTS PARDONED.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) hailed the release from prison of Elmar Guseynov, founder of the independent Russian-language weekly "Bakinskii Bulvar," and Shahbaz Huduoglu, editor-in-chief of the independent weekly "Milletin Sesi." The Court of Appeals in Baku had been set to hear Guseynov and Huduoglu's cases on 17 October. Instead, President Aliyev pardoned both, citing the tenth anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence. The pardons came in response to numerous appeals for the journalists' release received by his office, according to Leyla Yunus, chairperson of the Azerbaijani press group the Committee to Protect Imprisoned Journalists and Freedom of Expression. The pardons do not reverse the guilty verdict against Guseynov and Huduoglu, and both their newspapers remain closed. Guseynov told CPJ, "We will start [fighting to reopen our papers] tomorrow because journalists that worked for us are now jobless." (Committee to Protect Journalists Press Release, 17 October)
LUKASHENKA URGES BROADCAST COMPANY TO ACHIEVE WORLD-CLASS LEVEL...
"Information pressure from outside and the battle for the control of minds have not ended. There are no breaks in this confrontation, and in order to win tomorrow we have to reach a world level today," President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told the staff of the National Broadcasting Company on 13 October. He added that Belarus should have "a [qualitatively] new television" beginning on 1 January 2002. Lukashenka promised technical support to the company and a new manager, following the unexpected death of National Broadcasting Company Chairman Valery Skvartsou in September. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October)...AND BLAMES RUSSIA, U.S. FOR SMUGGLING OUT KGB DEFECTOR.
On 10 October, President Lukashenka alleged Russian and U.S. involvement in smuggling KGB officer Henadz Uhlyanitsa and Andrey Zharnasek, the authors of a video implicating the Belarusian regime in political murders, out of Belarus, Belapan reported. Uhlyanitsa and Zharnasek accused an Interior Ministry special task force of kidnapping and killing opposition leader Viktar Hanchar and his friend Anatol Krasouski. According to Lukashenka, it was "through the Americans, with assistance from Russia" that Uhlyanitsa and Zharnasek left Belarus. Lukashenka also alleged that a representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees helped both men get to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and later out of CIS territory. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)
BOSNIAN-CROATIAN JOURNALISTS ORGANIZATION CONDEMNS ATTACK ON REPORTER.
The Bosnian Croatian Journalists Association has strongly condemned a 15 October attack on a reporter, allegedly by Ivica Artmagic, a former leader of the Mostar branch of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina (HDZ) party, Hina reported on 16 October. The group urged the appropriate authorities to punish the assailant, who physically assaulted Boro Jelic, a reporter for the Usora radio station and a correspondent for the Croatian daily "Slobodna Dalmacija," the agency added. A source at Jelic's radio station said Artmagic had previously threatened the station's workers as they reported local police statements regarding Artmagic's activities. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October)MEDIA SHUFFLE WILL 'TERMINATE' HRT TERRESTRIAL TV PRESENCE.
A spokesman for the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to Bosnia said on 11 October that ongoing efforts to reorganize radio and television in Bosnia will put an end to Croatian Radio Television's (HRT) terrestrial broadcasts in that country, Hina reported. Croat-Muslim federal authorities have frequently objected to aspects of reforms aimed at convergence with international standards, and HRT has reached a significant part of the population in recent years. Croatian and international representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina are considering ways to ensure broadcasts to the Croat population via the future federal Radio and Television and the state Public Broadcasting Service, the OHR spokesman added, according to Hina. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)
SOCIALIST DAILY TO RESUME PUBLICATION.
The left-wing daily "Duma," which stopped publication in early July due to financial problems, will re-appear by the end of this month, BTA reported on 15 October, citing Editor-in-Chief Vyacheslav Tunev. Tunev said the daily will not, however, be a successor to the former "Duma." He said it will have a "Balkan orientation" and will be "independent." The daily was first issued in April 1990, as a successor to the communist "Rabotnichesko delo." Subscribers are to receive it together with "Republika," which was launched on 14 July by a publishing trust close to the Bulgarian Socialist Party after "Duma" suspended publication. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)
'LE FIGARO' PUBLISHES FAKE HAVEL ARTICLE...
Czech President Vaclav Havel on 11 October strongly protested and demanded that a public apology be made after the French daily "Le Figaro" the same day published an article Havel said he never wrote, CTK reported. The article was published under the title "Why [Italian Premier Silvio] Berlusconi Is Wrong." Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Havel never wrote the beginning of the article, in which he allegedly calls for elucidating what is meant by "West" when used as a contrast to other civilizations. He said the following text was taken out of a speech Havel delivered in Bratislava on 11 May and was reprinted without permission. Spacek said "Le Figaro" has "seriously breached ethics" by attributing to Havel things he never wrote and by presenting a speech made six months ago as a new article. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)...AND APOLOGIZES.
"Le Figaro" on 13 October apologized to President Havel for having published an article attributed to Havel that he did not author. The daily said the article had been sent to its editorial offices by the Prague branch of the Project Syndicate agency and that "Le Figaro" had no reason to doubt its authenticity, as Project Syndicate has in the past provided articles that created no problems. Project Syndicate has not commented on the affair. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October)EXPELLED IRAQI DIPLOMAT IMPLICATED IN BOMB PLOT ON U.S.-BASED RADIO...
An Iraqi diplomat stationed in Prague held a number of clandestine meetings with Mohammed Atta, one of the suspected hijackers involved in the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, AP reported on 11 October, citing a senior Czech government official. The official said the diplomat, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samil Al-Ani, had been observed by Czech security services because they suspected he might have been involved in plotting attacks on the RFE/RL headquarters in Prague. The diplomat was subsequently expelled in April. The official said Czech authorities do not know what was discussed at those meetings and called this "the $64,000 question." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)...AND HAVEL CONVEYS SALUTE TO CENTRAL ASIAN COUNTRIES VIA RFE/RL.
On 8 October, President Havel paid a visit to RFE/RL headquarters in Prague. He said he wanted to express his appreciation of RFE/RL's continuing broadcasts and to especially convey via RFE/RL greetings to listeners in Central Asian countries that "in today's difficult situation, show solidarity" with the struggle against terrorism. Havel said displaying solidarity is important and added that if it were not for the "solidarity, support and publicity" RFE/RL displayed toward him in his dissident days, he would have spent more time in communist prisons. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October)
OFFICIAL RESPONDS TO STORY ON TERRORIST LINK.
Contrary to a report published by the Spanish daily "El Mundo," it was not members of the Basque terrorist organization ETA but rather members of the IRA who visited Hungary last summer, presumably in an attempt to procure weapons from the Russian mafia, Secret Services Minister Ervin Demeter told "Nepszabadsag" on 15 October. The newspaper also says the deal fell through after authorities in Slovakia captured the IRA members, who have since been put on trial in the U.K. Meanwhile, the TV2 commercial television station reported that the secret services alerted Hungary's top leadership on 28 August that some kind of terrorist attacks were planned against an undetermined country. Demeter said he has ordered his subordinates to find out how the TV network acquired documents that were given a 30-year secret classification. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)POLICE SEARCH MIEP PAPER'S EDITORIAL OFFICE.
Police detectives on 5 October searched the editorial office of "Ebreszto," a newspaper published by a branch of the extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), in Budapest's 16th district. The search was part of an ongoing investigation regarding an allegedly anti-Semitic article published recently in the newspaper by MIEP Deputy Chairman Lorant Hegedus Jr. The Prosecutor's Office has also questioned the newspaper's editor on suspicion of incitement against a community. Hegedus himself may be questioned by authorities if his parliamentary immunity is lifted, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October)RADIO CHIEF SAYS SOCIALISTS THREATENED STAFF.
An internal inquiry at Hungarian Radio claims that the station did not censor the statements of opposition Socialist Party (MSZP) politicians, as charged by the Socialist Party. Karoly Szadai, the FIDESZ chairman of the station's board of trustees, on 10 October told parliament's Budget Committee that to the contrary, the MSZP had threatened radio staffers that unless their comments were featured on the "Kronika" news program, the staffers would be sacked if the Socialists won next year's elections. MSZP press chief Andras Dekany rejected Szadai's statements as baseless and slanderous. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)
TV STATION DENIES PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW CONTROLS MEDIA EMPIRE...
Editors from KTK TV convened a press conference in Almaty on 11 October at which they denied that the station is owned by President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law, Rakhat Aliev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. They rejected as "groundless and politically motivated" claims made by parliament deputy Tolen Toqtasynov in an open letter to Nazarbaev made public the previous day that Aliyev and his wife, Nazarbaev's daughter Dariga, between them control the majority of both print and electronic media outlets in Kazakhstan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)...WHILE OPPOSITION PARTY SAYS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW ARE TRUE.
Amirzhan Qosanov, the chairman of the executive committee of the opposition Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, on 12 October confirmed that President Nazarbaev's son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev controls numerous media outlets and is guilty of abuse of his official position as deputy head of the Committee for National Security (the former KGB), RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. On 11 October staff members of one of the TV companies said to be controlled by Aliyev denied that he owns the company. The original charges against Aliyev were made in an open letter addressed to President Nazarbaev by parliament deputy Tolen Toqtasynov. Qosanov said his party plans to make public a "White Book" containing details of Aliev's repressive actions against it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October)'SOLDAT' PAPER REAPPEARS.
Ermurat Bapi, editor-in-chief of "SolDat" newspaper, told journalists in Almaty on 17 October that the 54th issue of his paper had been printed this week. Under the verdict of the Almaty City Court earlier this year -- for insulting the dignity and honor of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev -- the paper might have faced permanent closure if it had not reappeared within six months; the paper made the deadline with just two days to spare. Journalists were also informed by a "SolDat" staff member that at least five Almaty printers had refused to print the paper this week. (RFE/RL Kazakh News, 17 October)INTERNET COSTS TO GO DOWN?
On October 17, a KazakhTeleCom official told journalists at the official opening of the international "Astana-KILTEL" show that in the "nearest future the maximum fee for Internet usage would be $40-50 per month." The IT exhibition is the third held in Astana since 1998. (RFE/RL Kazakh News, 17 October)
The October issue of "Communication" includes items on: the Bishkek Arbitration Court's rejection in a law suit of the local newspaper "Moya Stolitsa"; the situation of the "Osh Djanyrygy" newspaper; a guide for journalists on coverage of terrorist actions; possible changes in media laws; and a working group on advertising law. The full text is at Internews Kyrgyz: http://www.internews.kg or http://www.internews.kg/russian/bulletin/buls.htm (Internews Kyrgyzstan, 17 October)
WRITERS PROTEST JUSTICE MINISTER'S DECLARATIONS.
The Writers' Union on 9 October protested the anti-Romanian tone of the declarations made last week in Strasbourg by Justice Minister Ion Morei, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The union described Morei's statement made in front of the International Court of Human Rights as "provocative, anti-Romanian, and aimed at heightening tensions in relations between the two countries." The union also said that the authorities' refusal to register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church amounts to "a clear infringement of internationally accepted standards," and that the Bessarabian Church can "in no way be presented as an exemplification of Romanian expansionism." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October)
NEW CHIEF OF MONTENEGRO RADIO TELEVISION NAMED.
The former secretary-general of the Montenegrin government, Miodrag Vucinic, will soon become the acting director of Radio Television Crna Gora, Montenegrin electronic media reported on 9 October. The former director of Radio Television Crna Gora, Goran Rakocevic, has become a media adviser to the Montenegrin prime minister. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)
PRESIDENT SIGNS BILL ON ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES.
On 11 October, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed into law a bill on an electronic signatures. Under the bill, an e-signature placed under a document sent via the Internet will have the same legal status as a handwritten signature and will unambiguously define the identity of a person using it. "The law is an important signal to the international community that Poland is developing," PAP quoted Kwasniewski as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)DEPUTY PREMIER DESIGNATE EXPLAINS NEW INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTRY.
Marek Pol, who was subsequently confirmed as deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister, said on 10 October that the reason behind the creation of a new Infrastructure Ministry is a "departure from the sectoral division of the economy in favor of a task-based division," PAP reported. The Infrastructure Ministry will oversee transport, communications, and regional policy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)
OPPOSITION PARTY PROTESTS GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF ROMPRES.
In a statement released on 11 October, the Democratic Party said it will appeal to international organizations to intervene against the government's attempt to "take total control" over the official Rompres news agency, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Democrats say Rompres journalists are forced to take orders from the government, as the agency has been placed under the supervision of the Public Information Ministry. The Democrats called for returning Rompres to parliamentary supervision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)RACIST LEAFLETS DISSEMINATED IN TRANSYLVANIAN TOWN.
Racist leaflets warning against "mongering" with Roma and using inflammatory language to denounce this minority, homosexuals, religious sects, and "anyone who is not a Romanian" have been spread in the Transylvanian town of Deva, Romanian television reported on 15 October. The leaflets are signed by the extraparliamentary New Right party. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)RADIO CHAIRMAN SAYS CONSPIRACY AIMS TO REMOVE HIM.
Romanian Broadcasting Company (SSR) Chairman Andrei Dimitriu told journalists on 15 October that a conspiracy is being forged to bring about his removal before the end of his mandate, Mediafax reported. Dimitriu believes "second-rank" PSD officials are involved in that conspiracy. He said the plot aims to have legal proceedings opened against him on fabricated grounds, which would enforce his being suspended from his position until the accusations are legally clarified. By then, he said, his mandate will have ended and "some sort of apology will be made when nothing can help any more." Dimitriu was appointed by the previous government and his mandate runs out in 2003. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)
RYAZAN JOURNALIST SUBJECT OF ATTEMPTED MURDER.
Unknown assailants attempted to kill the editor-in-chief of the "Novaya gazeta" Ryazan bureau, Aleksei Frolov, together with his family, on 2 October, "Novaya gazeta" reported on 8 October. According to the weekly, unknown assassins sprayed poisonous gas into the keyhole of the front door of Frolov's apartment. However, Frolov, his pregnant wife, his mother, and friends who were visiting managed to escape before being completely overcome by the fumes. According to the weekly, the motive for the attack is not yet known, but "the Ryazan edition of 'Novaya gazeta' is one of the most uncompromising publications in the region." The weekly also noted that the attack on Frolov differed from the usual pattern of attacks on journalists because it occurred inside rather than outside his home. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October)'NOVAYA GAZETA' REPORTER FLEES TO AUSTRIA...
Anna Politkovskaya, a "Novaya gazeta" journalist who has attracted attention for her reporting on Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya, has fled to Austria, "The Moscow Times" reported on 12 October. Politkovskaya received death threats after she published a story suggesting that Russian troops rather than Chechen militants shot down a helicopter that was carrying two generals, one of whom Politkovskaya told "The Moscow Times" was carrying documents concerning the conduct of Russian troops in Chechnya. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October)...AFTER RECEIVING E-MAILED DEATH THREATS.
According to the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum -- representing over 17,000 publications in 93 countries -- Anna Politkovskaya received death threats stemming from a September 10 article in which she named a Russian military officer Sergei Lapin, nicknamed "Kadet", as responsible for committing atrocities against civilians in Chechnya. Politkovskaya first received a threat via e-mail in mid-September saying that Lapin was coming to Moscow to avenge the article. The most recent threat was received by the newspaper on 10 October and signed "Kadet." Although the e-mails were alleged to have come from Lapin, Politkovskaya said that the threats could also be linked to her coverage of a Russian military helicopter shot down in Chechnya in September. (World Association of Newspapers Press Release, 17 October)ORT MOST POPULAR STATION IN MOSCOW.
According to a survey by Gallup-Media for the period 1-7 October and reported by Interfax on 9 October, 21.7 percent of viewers in the Russian capital watched ORT while 17.1 percent viewed TV-6. RTR, NTV, and TV Center trailed with 15 percent, 14.7 percent, and 6.4 percent respectively. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October)YAVLINSKY, FSB WIN LIBEL CASES.
A Moscow city court on 12 October found that the ORT television had libeled Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky when it reported in the run-up to the presidential elections in March 2000 that Yabloko had used dirty tricks in the campaign, Interfax reported. The court rejected ORT's defense that its comments had come "word for word" from a report distributed by the Agency of Political News (APN). Meanwhile, another Moscow court the same day found for FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev in a case he had brought against "Novye izvestiya" journalist Valerii Yakov, the news service reported. The paper reported on 4 August that Patrushev had violated orders and accepted military decorations for bad conduct in Chechnya. The paper and journalist must now pay Patrushev 5,000 rubles ($170) and publish a retraction. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October)KOKH QUITS AT NTV...
Alfred Kokh on 12 October angrily resigned as chief of Gazprom-Media because he said he had been turned into a puppet, Russian and Western agencies reported. "I can stand face-to-face confrontation, but I cannot stay if somebody begins to push me out bit by bit, isolating me from decision-making and turning me into a puppet," Kokh said. Kokh was speaking after Gazprom head Aleksei Miller announced that the firm plans to sell its media assets, including NTV, which Gazprom-Media took over earlier this year. But later the same day, Kokh told Interfax that he might withdraw his resignation if certain conditions are met. NTV spokesmen welcomed the Gazprom announcement, and Ekho Moskvy reported the same day that NTV may now be sold to an oligarch loyal to the Kremlin. But Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Union of Rightist Forces, said on 12 October that the departure of Kokh is "yet another indication of the attack on freedom of the press in Russia," Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October)...DOES NOT WITHDRAW RESIGNATION...
Alfred Kokh has not changed his decision to resign as general director of Gazprom-Media, Interfax-AFI reported on 16 October. "Negotiations, including in the administration of the president, have not led to a change in Kokh's position," Gazprom-Media press secretary Aelita Yefrimova told the news agency. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October)...AND DECLARES INTENT TO BUY GAZPROM MEDIA ASSETS.
The "Kommersant" newspaper has published an interview with former Gazprom-Media managing director Alfred Kokh in which he confirms his intention to buy out all Gazprom's media assets, according to a Ekho Moskvy radio program. Alfred Kokh makes no secret of the fact that his resignation as Gazprom-Media managing director because he plans to buy Gazprom's media assets, which include NTV and the Ekho Moskvy radio station. In the "Kommersant" interview, Kokh claims his earlier offers to Gazprom had gotten "bogged down in red tape." If a tender is announced, Kokh will bid for the Gazprom media outlets with NTV Managing Director Boris Jordan and an unnamed foreign investor. Kokh said that "everything will be put up for sale by the middle of January" and that the deal will be finalized by early April. (Ekho Moskvy radio, 17 October)TV-6 IN SECOND PLACE IN MOSCOW.
On 9 October, "The Moscow Times" carried an article by Aleksei Pankin, the editor of the media magazine "Sreda," decrying the lack of domestic and Western anger about recent moves against TV-6 even though they had the same intent as the earlier Gazprom-Media takeover of NTV. "On this occasion," Pankin said, "I did not hear so much as a peep in support of the journalists from the United States, the Council of Europe, or from our own home-grown champions of glasnost and freedom of speech." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October)COURT MOVES AGAINST TV-6.
On 27 September, the Moscow Arbitration Court ruled to liquidate TV-6 in a suit by minority shareholder LUKoil-Garant. On 12 October, the court moved to sharply restrict the station management's ability to perform essential financial operations, such as receiving new credits. While this decision was in line with the letter of the law, permitting liquidation of companies whose liabilities exceed their equity capital, the court has in effect paralyzed TV-6's activities. TV-6 managers will appeal the decision of the Arbitration Court. ("Transitions Online," 17 October)SAGALAEV ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NATIONAL NETWORK OUTSIDE OF MOSCOW.
Yurii Sagalaev, the head of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in an interview published in "Trud" on 4 October that he is organizing a new national TV network that will not be based in either Moscow or St. Petersburg. He said that such a network is needed because the most interesting developments in Russia are taking place in the regions. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 10 October)MOODY'S SIGNS COOP AGREEMENT WITH INTERFAX.
On 2 October, Moody's Investors Service has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Moscow-based Interfax Rating Agency, an affiliate of Interfax Information Services Group, Russia's largest and most prominent information-services provider. The agreement, effective immediately, will include the provision of technical assistance by Moody's, joint research, credit risk analysis in Russia through joint conferences, seminars, and workshops. "Interfax Rating Agency already enjoys a strong domestic market position and has a reputation for providing authoritative analytical services. These strengths, combined with Moody's long established track record and global expertise in credit analysis, will put the Interfax Rating Agency in an even better position in terms of providing the highest-quality credit rating and research services available in the Russian marketplace," Chester Murray, group managing director for Europe, said in a written statement. The agreement with the Interfax Rating Agency marks the seventh rating agency with which Moody's has affiliated over the past three years. The Interfax Group provides business information and services from and about the emerging markets of Europe and Asia, Business Wire reported. It has a global operational network with companies and offices in about 30 countries, according to the same source. ("RFE/RL Business Watch," 9 October)ORT ASKS BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TO ALLOW JOURNALIST TO ATTEND CLOSED TRIAL.
Russia's ORT public television network has requested that Alyaksandr Lukashenka allow ORT journalist Pavel Sheremet to attend a trial of suspected kidnappers of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, Belapan reported on 11 October. The Minsk City Court is expected on 23 October to open a closed-door trial of former Interior Ministry antiterrorist unit member Valery Ihnatovich and three others who are suspected of abducting Zavadski and committing seven murders. "We are concerned about how the Zavadski case is being handled.... Lukashenka's answer [to the ORT request] will most likely be 'no,'" Sheremet said in a recent interview with "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta." Zavadski's relatives believe that the case material contains indirect evidence that Zavadski, who has been missing since 7 July 2000, was a victim of a carefully planned operation, not of an ordinary crime. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)PRINT MEDIA ASK PUTIN TO CONTINUE TAX EXEMPTION.
The editors in chief of Russia's leading newspapers and magazines have sent a letter to President Putin calling on him to avert the collapse of the Russian media that would occur if the media loses its concessions on VAT, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 October. (The same day, Deputy Media Minister Vladimir Grigorev said that the removal of these tax benefits could lead to a decline in publishing after 1 January 2002 of up to 40 percent, Interfax reported.) The editors said that such a collapse would represent a threat to Russia's emerging civil society. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October)A NEW FACE FOR 'NEZAVISIMAYA?'
APN reported on 28 September that the new management of Moscow's "Nezavisimaya gazeta" plans to seek a broader audience by cutting analytic materials and increasing the amount of news and the number of illustrations, including some in color. The new team also plans to increase space for advertising and cut two-thirds of the paper's special thematic and analytic supplements. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 10 October)FORMER 'ITOGI' TEAM TO LAUNCH NEW JOURNAL.
Regular publication of "Yezhenedelnyy Zhurnal" will start in early December, according to Ekho Moskvy radio. Sergei Parkhomenko, former editor-in-chief of "Itogi" magazine (part of Vladimir Gusinskii's media empire, which was taken over by state-owned Gazprom in May 2001), had initially planned to launch the new magazine as early as September. (Ekho Moskvy news agency, 15 October)BATTLE OVER TV STATION FLARES UP IN UDMURTIA...
Deputies in Udmurtia's legislative assembly decided on 8 October to send an appeal to the Prosecutor-General's Office, asking it to look into the conflict that is occurring at Udmurtia Television, an affiliate of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), Interfax-Eurasia reported. On the evening of 6 October, all broadcasts from the Udmurtia television company were stopped because of a management dispute at the station, RFE/RL's Russian service reported. VGTRK opted not to renew the contract of the current director of the company, Aleksandr Ushakov, and appointed in his place First Deputy Director Roza Gorbushina. However, Ushakov has refused to relinquish his position and is being supported by Udmurtian legislators. VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeev has said that he believes the leadership of the republic wants to gain control over the company because of the impending 21 October mayoral elections in Izhevsk. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October)...LOCAL AUTHORITIES STAND BY EMBATTLED TV HEAD IN FIGHT WITH MOSCOW...
Deputies in Udmurtia's legislative assembly decided on 8 October to send an appeal to the Prosecutor-General's Office, asking it to look into the conflict that is occurring at Udmurtia Television, an affiliate of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), Interfax-Eurasia reported. The director of the company, Aleksandr Ushakov, has refused to transfer his authority to a VGTRK representative appointed from Moscow. Ushakov is being supported by Udmurtian legislators and the republic's presidential administration. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 10 October)...AS DOBRODEEV SAYS HE WANTS TO ENSURE FAIR ELECTION COVERAGE...
VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeev has said that he believes the leadership of the republic wants to gain control over the company because of the impending 21 October mayoral elections in Izhevsk. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 9 October, Dobrodeev said that Ushakov was being let go in part for his role in the station's coverage of the October 2000 presidential election. Dobrodeev said that he heard many complaints that the election campaign was "characterized by an absence of opportunities for all candidates" to access the airwaves at Udmurtia. Dobrodeev also complained that although he has met with Udmurt President Aleksandr Volkov three times, "unfortunately, the head of Udmurtia, clearly, does not know Russian laws and as before believes that the nomination of the head of VTRK (Udmurtia) should be checked first with him." According to "Vremya novostei," the battle over the TV station was recently the subject of a conversation between President Putin and Volkov. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 10 October)...PUTIN ASKED TO TAKE CHARGE...
State Duma deputies adopted an appeal on 10 October to President Putin, calling on him to intervene in the conflict over Udmurt TV, Russian agencies reported. According to the appeal, Udmurt residents' constitutional rights to information have been violated by All-Russian Television and Radio Company's (VGTRK) suspension of broadcasts of that station. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)...BUT BATTLE WIDENS.
The Prosecutor-General's Office has launched criminal proceedings in connection with the battle over Udmurtia television, presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko told reporters on 12 October. According to Kirienko, Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyaginstev has also suggested that Udmurtia prosecutor Vladimir Zykin resign, because he declared at a session of Udmurtia's legislature that the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company's (VGTRK) suspension of broadcasts to the region was "illegal." In doing so, Zykin added to the already "tense political situation in the republic." Zvyaginstev, together with Kirienko and VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeev, flew to Udmurtia's capital, Izhevsk, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. According to the daily, Kirienko tried to "stabilize" the political situation in the republic by unexpectedly announcing that Sergei Chikurov, the chief federal inspector to the Udmurtia, should not participate in Izhevsk mayoral elections on 21 October. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October)PAVLOVSKII SAYS INTERNET IS ALREADY THE 90TH REGION OF RUSSIA.
"Izvestiya" on 11 October cited Gleb Pavlovskii, the Kremlin media adviser, as saying that "one must be get used to the fact that the Russian Federation now has a 90th region -- the Internet," and that Russian leaders at all levels must be present in this region, which will gradually become the largest region in the country in terms of political influence. The paper reported the same day that Duma Deputy Tatyana Astrakhankina (Communist Party) wants the parliament to adopt legislation that will limit the access of schoolchildren to pornography and other unacceptable content on the Internet. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October)HEWLETT-PACKARD BEGINS MANUFACTURING COMPUTERS IN RUSSIA.
Interfax reported on 10 October that U.S. electronics giant Hewlett-Packard has begun manufacturing computers in Russia. The company said it plans to produce the entire spectrum of personal computers and also design larger computer systems on demand. The company estimates it will produce 100,000 computers a year. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)RUSSIAN HACKER FACES UP TO 100 YEARS IN U.S. PRISON.
Vasili Gorshkov was convicted in a U.S. federal court on 15 October of conspiracy, computer crimes, and fraud and faces up to 100 years in prison when he is sentenced on 4 January 2002, ITAR-TASS reported. Gorshkov and a confederate were arrested in April 2001 for breaking into Internet companies and stealing thousands of credit card numbers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October)SECRET -- AND TAX -- SERVICES 'TRUST TELEPHONES.'
The FSB grants citizens the chance to avoid criminal prosecution for spying against Russia by calling a "trust telephone." The FSB press service says that during the first half of 2001 a total of 357 people called this line, although only 15 of these calls were of professional interest. The Federal Tax Police Service [FSNP] also has its own "trust telephone" where an automatic answering machine notes down the data, resulting in about 20 follow up calls per week. ("Rossiyskaya Gazeta," 4 October)RUSSIA INCREASES SECURITY AT POST OFFICES.
The Communications Ministry on 16 October announced that it is stepping up security at post offices and postal stations, Interfax reported. The announcement came at the first session of the specially created interagency council for providing security for postal stations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October)
MEDIA TYCOON FLEES COUNTRY...
Bogoljub Karic and his family, who own the largest private company in Serbia, fled the country to an undisclosed location out of fear for their lives, Western and Yugoslav news agencies reported on 15 October. Last week the Serbian government stepped up pressure on Karic and his business interests, demanding $30 million in taxes on wealth he allegedly gained from Milosevic-era privileges. Also, the Yugoslav central bank appointed an administrator for the Astra Bank owned by the family and Serbian police began investigating the family's stake in the Mobtel mobile telephone operator on 12 October. Zivkovic said Karic was not under investigation and was free to leave the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)...BUT WILL RETURN FROM HIDING, DESPITE PROBES.
Bogoljub Karic said on 16 October, one day after he and his family fled Yugoslavia fearing for their safety, that he will return to the country, Reuters reported. Karic said in a statement that he spoke with Serbian authorities who "convinced me that that I can safely return to the country and that all necessary protective measures will be taken." Meanwhile, investigations into the Karic family businesses continued. Radio B92 reported that the Belgrade public Prosecutor's Office has begun a criminal investigation into the business dealings of the Karic family and has requested that police and the Yugoslav National Bank cooperate in questioning relevant persons and gathering information on Karic's BK Group. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October)STRUGGLE ERUPTS OVER BELGRADE APPOINTMENTS TO NOVI SAD TELEVISION.
The speaker of the Vojvodina Assembly, Nenad Canak, who also leads the forces calling for greater autonomy for the Serbian province, sparked a storm of controversy with his reaction on 9 October to the appointment by the central Radio-TV Serbia (RTS) of a director for the local branch in Novi Sad, AP and local media reported. Canak's argument that local authorities should appoint the station's director was followed by a visit to the station, where he smashed a sign with the RTS logo and declared he will "no longer permit Belgrade to trample on Vojvodina." The Vojvodina Coalition in the Serbian parliament said in a statement that Canak's "primitive and hooligan-like behavior" does not contribute to the efforts to peacefully restore Vojvodina's judicial and executive authority, but that it agrees that the local authorities should appoint the TV's director. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, however, described Canak's actions as "an attempt to carry out some kind of a coup and impose will by force and illegal means." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October)THE DRAFT BROADCASTING ACT.
The seventh version of the Draft Broadcasting Act was presented on 9 October for another round of public debate. According to a member of the legal drafting group, its key new feature was the establishment of the independent regulatory body to be appointed by the Serbian Parliament. The new Broadcasting Council of Serbia will be comprised of nine members and will have important oversight functions for frequency allocation and monitoring the work of the media. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)UNITED GUILDS HOLD NEZAVISNOST CONGRESS.
The Third Congress of the Guilds' Union Nezavisnost re-elected current United Guilds' Unions Nezavisnost President Branislav Canak. Delegates also adopted resolutions on media privatization, media freedom, and reform of the media system. The union demanded a new media law, affirmation of free journalism, protection of journalists, the unrestricted flow of information, and the complete autonomy of journalists and their editorial committees. Delegates also stressed the right of union activists to take part in public debates on media regulations as well as to under certain conditions that journalists can become owners or partial owners of media outlets. Union members also requested a more precise definition of the union's control function and of its mechanisms. In the Demand for Redress of the Injustice, delegates demanded the Serbian Government make up for the financial losses of media employees as a result of their opposition to the previous regime. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)RTS STRIKE ANNOUNCED...
During a meeting of some 200 RTS staffers, the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) Union Nezavisnost announced on 5 October that they would go on a warning strike on October 16 unless the Serbian government raises salaries at the state-run media organization. Meeting participants declared the deadline for starting negotiations would be one week and that the deadline for meeting the salary demand would expire in 10 days. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)...TANJUG TO STRIKE?
Tanjug employees who belong to the Independent Workers' Union and the Workers' Union Nezavisnost, appealed on 9 October to the federal government to start emergency negotiations on changing Tanjug's ownership and financial situation of the Tanjug news agency and its staff. The Tanjug staff representatives demanded that negotiations start in 10 days. Otherwise, the Tanjug workers' unions announced that they would use all means available to them to achieve their goals. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)NEW RTS APPOINTMENTS MADE.
The Radio Television of Serbia Board of Directors unanimously selected Bojana Lekic on 9 October as the new editor-in-chief of news programs at Radio Television of Serbia (RTS). RTS also let it be known that Petar Jovanovic had been appointed director of RTS Novi Sad, while Milovan Nedeljkov had been named editor-in-chief of RTS News Programs. Karel Turza was appointed head of Radio Beograd's Third Program, while Aleksandar Grujic was appointed editor-in-chief of the Serbian Programs for Radio Novi Sad. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)MILANOVIC TRIAL CONTINUES.
The trial of former Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) Director Dragoljub Milanovic continued on 9 October in the Belgrade District Court in Belgrade. Milanovic has been charged with abuse of authority and of responsibility for the deaths of 16 RTS employees because he did not obey an order to relocate staff during the NATO bombing campaign. The 9 October court proceedings were closed to the public because "Order 37" -- the order to relocate "human and technical resources" out of the RTS building -- was mentioned, something that judges deem to a military secret. The trial is scheduled to resume on 29 October. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)GERMAN MEDIA CONCERN TO BECOME JOINT OWNER OF 'POLITIKA' PRINT.
Joint-stock company Politika and media concern Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung announced their intention to set up a joint print-outlet concern. Politika stated on 6 October that 50 percent of the stock and the editorial management would remain with Politika, while the German concern would get 49 percent of the share capital. The contract related only to Politika's print publications; Radio Television Politika, a separate media organization, would not be part of the new media concern. The final version of the contract will be signed by the end of this year. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)ROMA TELEVISION NISAVA BANNED.
The federal telecommunication inspector imposed a ban on the operations of Nis-based TV station Nisava, the only Roma electronic media in Yugoslavia. According to Bahtalodrom, the Roma association to which the TV station belongs, federal inspectors imposed the ban on September 20 because the station did not have a broadcast license. Television Nisava was the first electronic media in Serbia to be banned by the new government. Two day later, Reporters without Borders protested this action to the Serbian Telecommunications Minister. (ANEM Weekly Media Update, 6-12 October)
REBROADCASTING OF ORT HALTED.
Tajikistan has suspended retransmission of Russia's ORT television and reduced by five hours rebroadcasts of a second Russian TV station, RTR, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 12 October. Tajik Communications Minister Nuridin Muhiddinov told that agency that ORT's predecessor, Ostankino, owes his ministry a total of 5.5 million rubles ($184,000) in unpaid fees dating back to 1997, and RTR owes a similar amount. "We cannot afford to broadcast Russian TV for free," he explained. On 14 October, a Tajik Interior Ministry spokesman announced the arrest in Dushanbe of two men who have confessed to the March 1996 murder of ORT journalists Viktor Nikulin, ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October)
SEPTEMBER MEDIA SURVEY ISSUED.
The September 2001 issue of the European Institute for the Media Newsletter on media developments in Russia has been issued. It has information in five categories: media news; media and government; media law; media conferences; and new media technology. The data is provided by EIM reporters in Russia. The EIM bears sole responsibility for the content. The project is partly funded by the European Commission. (European Institute for the Media, 15 October)
CZECH, SLOVAK AUTHORITIES TEST SUSPECT LETTERS.
Pavel Pittermann, a spokesman for the Czech Nuclear Safety Authority (SUJB), said on 15 October that his office is testing 31 letters and packages on suspicion that they may contain anthrax or other toxic or biological material, AP reported. The results of the tests are expected in a few days. Pittermann said the letters were sent both to individuals and to his agency and "some arrived from abroad." Four letters suspected of containing toxic materials were received in Karlovy Vary, while two drug stores in Hradec Kralove said they received suspicious letters from Nigeria, CTK reported. In Slovakia, Interior Minister Ivan Simko said police seized four envelopes that contained suspicious powder or crystals. One of the letters originated from South Africa. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)