3 August 2000, Volume 1, Number 12
AZERBAIJANCPJ PROTESTS PRESSURE ON INDEPENDENT TV STATION. The Committee to Protect Journalists has protested Azerbaijani government pressure against Baku's ANS TV station to block the showing of an interview with Chechen leader Shamil Basaev. Electricity to the TV station was cut off for 15 minutes during a 14 July broadcast interview with Basaev. Officials claimed the interruption was the result of an accident, but two days later, ANS TV received "an official notification, signed by Deputy Proesecutor-General Ramiz Rzayev, stating that the interview tape had been illegally imported from Russia to Azerbaijan and the interview itself was illegal because it allegedly contained terrorist propaganda" in violation of domestic and international laws. (CPJ Press Release, 1 August)
BELARUSSTATE BROADCASTING GETS NEW CHIEF. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has appointed Viktar Chykin, head of the pro-government Communist Party of Belarus, as chief of the State Television and Radio Company. "I think the character traits that he has already demonstrated--humanness, perseverance--are indisputable," Lukashenka told journalists. As Minsk's deputy mayor, Chykin has become notorious for banning opposition rallies in the capital's center and dealing harshly with meetings he has authorized. "[Chykin's appointment] shows that on the eve of the election season, the Lukashenka regime is not going to loosen [its grip], is not even going to pretend liberalization," opposition leader Vintsuk Vyachorka told RFE/RL. "The appointment of the man who banned rallies [and] let dogs loose on demonstrators...is another proof that this regime wants only one thing--unlimited power and unlimited dictatorship--and will continue to lie, lie, and lie," Belarusian filmmaker Uladzimir Khalip commented. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July)
ORT JOURNALISTS DENY CONCEALING DATA ABOUT MISSING COLLEAGUE. ORT journalists Pavel Sheremet and Dmitrii Novozhilov have denied the allegation of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka that ORT is concealing information about the disappearance of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2000). The two said all information obtained by ORT in Zavadski's case had been immediately passed on to Belarusian investigators. Sheremet added that he will arrive in Minsk on 25 July with an ORT "investigation team" to look for Zavadski in Belarus. Citing unofficial sources, Belapan reported that Belarus's prosecutors intend to launch a criminal case against Sheremet for slander. Sheremet earlier said that Belarus's special services and Lukashenka personally are responsible for Zavadski's disappearance. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 July)
OPPOSITION LEADER LINKS DISAPPEARANCE CASES. Vintsuk Vyachorka, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service on 24 July that the cases of Aleh Baturyn and Russian Public Television (ORT) cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski "have certain traits of planned scenarios that in terms of their scale and provocative content exceed those [scenarios] carried out by the Lukashenka regime earlier." Vyachorka added that either the regime has now acquired more experienced advisers or the current "cynical scenarios" are prepared by advisers from Russia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 July)
ANOTHER INDEPENDENT PUBLICATION WARNED. Adding to the slew of official warnings against independent publications in Belarus, the State Press Committee recently warned the cultural magazine "Arche" for what it called the unauthorized alteration of the publication's title and the magazine's distribution abroad. The latest issue of "Arche" came out under the title of "Arche-Skaryna" and lists addresses of distributors in Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. Under Belarusian regulations, two warnings within one year give the authorities sufficient grounds to shut down a publication. Valerka Bulhakau, chief editor of "Arche," deems the warning groundless. "The authorities are putting us in the same category as independent newspapers --the principal target of their repressive machinery," he told Belapan. "They consider us dangerous. That is quite an achievement for a cultural publication."("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 1 August)
CROATIACATHOLIC PROGRAMMING TO START AIRING. Croatian Radio and Television (HTV) has concluded an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on the preparation and broadcast of Catholic programs. Other religious communities are expected to follow suit, "Vjesnik" reported on 28 July. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 1 August)
GEORGIAJOURNALIST'S BEATING PROTESTED. The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) protested the beating of Georgian journalist Vasili Silagadze, author of an article denouncing the "luxurious lifestyle" of certain senior police officials--including the interior minister--even as other police officers have gone unpaid for months. After refusing to divulge his sources, Silagadze was savagely beaten by three policemen who lacerated two fingers so he "would be unable to write for a while" and threatened him with "something serious" if he continued his investigative stories. (WAN-WEF Press Release, 1 August)
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ISSUE AND EVENTMEDIA FORUM SET FOR SEPTEMBER IN YALTA. An international forum for journalists, film directors, and media professionals from the newly independent states will be held from 2-7 September in Yalta, Ukraine. Please contact in Kyiv: firstname.lastname@example.org in Crimea: email@example.com (International Journalists' Network, 24-28 July)
KYRGYZSTANJAILED JOURNALIST RELEASED. The Jalal-Abad City Judge Myrzamamat Shermatov on 20 July overturned the 19 June ruling against local journalist Moldosaly Ibraimov. According to the new decision, Ibraimov was released on 20 July but he is still convicted. On 19 June, the court found him guilty of insulting Judge Toktosun Kasymbekov in his article and sentenced Ibraimov to two years imprisonment and fined him 107,000 soms (about $2,275) fine and the journalist was arrested in the courtroom the same day. Now, he has been directed to pay a 10,000 som fine (about $215). Many Kyrgyz and international organizations have sent protest letters to Kyrgyz authorities in the last month. Kasymbekov said on 20 July that he would appeal the ruling. Charges against the Jalal-Abad paper "Akyikat" (Justice), which published Ibraimov's article last April, were dropped. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 20 July)
DEPUTY SUES OPPOSITION WEEKLY. Member of parliament and a former First Party Secretary of Kyrgyzstan, 81-year-old Turdakun UsubAliyev has sued the opposition weekly "Asaba" and its owner Melis Eshimkanov, demanding 50 million soms (about $1,060,000) in compensation and suspension of the paper during the course of the investigation. Usubaliev's accusations appeared on 26 July in the "Aalam" weekly. Eshimkanov, who is a presidential candidate, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 26 July that he had been invited to appear before a Bishkek court on 2 August. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 26 July)
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE ACTS ABROAD. The chairman of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR), Ramazan Dyryldaev, held a news conference in Vienna on 25 July. He said that Kyrgyz authorities had sealed off the KCHR office in Bishkek on 20 July in an attempt to try to silence the committee before presidential elections on 29 October. According to the KCHR chairman, his son Almaz was detained by police but had escaped and is now in hiding while KCHR employee Gulhan Borubaeva was at first trapped in the office but later was allowed to leave. Dyryldaev's fears of imprisonment mean he does not plan return to Kyrgyzstan for now; a police official informed RFE/RL that a criminal case had been opened against him. The KCHR chairman presented a report in late July to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Kyrgyzstan's implementation of the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Dyryldaev announced on 28 July that the KCHR would soon resume its activity in Vienna. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 25 and 28 July)
OSCE CHAIR CONCERNED ABOUT MOVES AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS. The OSCE chairperson, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said she is worried by reports on the harassment of human rights activists in Kyrgyzstan; in particular, recent information on harassment of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights. (OSCE Press Release, 27 July)
MACEDONIAMACEDONIAN ALBANIAN UNIVERSITY LEGALIZED. The parliament voted on 26 July to approve an OSCE-sponsored measure to legalize the underground Albanian-language Tetovo university as an accredited private institution. The debate before the vote included acrimonious exchanges between members of the government's ethnic Albanian party, which supports the bill, and opposition Albanians, who want the Tetovo university to be a state institution on a par with the Macedonian-language one in Skopje, the MIC news agency reported. After the vote, the Macedonian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that legalizing Tetovo university is "one more step toward the partition" of Macedonia along ethnic lines, the BBC's Serbian Service reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July)
MOLDOVAU.S. STUDY TRIPS--A BOOST FOR MOLDOVAN JOURNALISTS. Since 1996, about 20 Moldovan journalists have traveled to the United States under a program intended to increase their reporting skills, according to the U.S. embassy in Chisinau. "After I saw how Bloomberg operates in the U.S., I decided to start my own economics wire service," said Alexandr Burdeinii, alumnus of the 1999 program. With three other colleagues, earlier this year Burdeinii launched the first Moldovan online publication on business and finance. (International Journalists' Network, 24-28 July)
RUSSIAMOSCOW OBJECTS TO OSCE FOCUS ON DEMOCRACY. In a statement released on the 25th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "attempts to turn [the OSCE] exclusively into an instrument of democratization of individual states will only bring it to a stalemate," ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. Such efforts, the ministry said, "are fraught with diversion from the Helsinki principles and may eventually lead to the Organization's degradation." Moscow, it continued, favors a balanced approach to all the changes and security aspects: military-political, economic and humanitarian." Meanwhile, Elena Bonner, the widow of Andrei Sakharov and a leading Russian human rights activist, said that the Helsinki Accords were more beneficial to the Soviet Union than to the West, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)
RELIGIOUS GROUPS MUST RE-REGISTER OR BE DISBANDED. With five months remaining before the end of the extended deadline for all religious groups to reregister with the state authorities, many local religious groups will likely miss the deadline and be disbanded, Keston Institute reported on 24 July. "The most serious problems relate to differences within a religious organization" and the "complexity of the documents that need to be submitted" under the controversial 1997 Russian law on religious organizations. In late 1999, Muslim communities and Russian Orthodox parishes had the most serious problems with registration, but "today the situation of Russian Orthodox parishes has improved markedly." Only one national religious organization, the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims (CSAM) based in Ufa, Bashkortostan, has not reregistered--apparently because the Justice Ministry has been unwilling to accept its statute. A parliamentary adviser on religious organizations told Keston that the CSAM statute violated international law because it claimed administration for all CIS countries.
'FOREIGN INFORMATION WARS' AT THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE? A six-page document, entitled "A Media Policy for Tomorrow," was distributed at a July Council of Europe ministerial conference in Cracow on mass media. Council of Europe official Roman Prieto-Suarez told RFE/RL that the unusually worded pamphlet portrays international relations as a covert battleground where states wage wars at least partly by using their journalists as weapons. The document calls on national governments to stop using information with the intention of "undermining a state's political, economic, and social system, the psychological manipulation of a population for the purpose of destabilizing society." It also calls on foreign countries to refrain from cross-border dissemination of information that contravenes international or domestic laws.
Prieto-Suarez works with the Council of Europe's media section, which organized the Cracow conference. He was careful to distance the council from the wording in the text: "It's the Russian authorities who were invited to submit a text, and we simply circulated it among the conference participants. But I think it's important to see that it's not a Council of Europe document, not a political document adopted at the conference, and that the entire content is exclusively the Russian authority's. It was not even edited by the Council of Europe--simply photocopied."
It's not clear yet to what extent the pamphlet represents official Russian views on the media. In spite of the Council of Europe's insistence the pamphlet is genuine, the head of the Russian delegation to the Cracow meeting, Mikhail Seslavinsky, has denied any knowledge of the document. The press spokesman for the Foreign Ministry also says his ministry had nothing to do with the document. Spokesman Yuri Grechko tells RFE/RL his ministry only provided technical support for the conference. (RFE/RL Weekday Magazine, 27 July)
INFORMATION MINISTRY LABELS SOME MEDIA 'HOSTILE?' Two months ago, Radio Liberty was labeled a "hostile" media outlet by two information ministry officials. At the time, Deputy Information Minister Yuri Akinshin said his ministry intended to limit the activity of hostile media because of their alleged abuse of freedom of speech. Any such intention was later partially denied by Seslavinsky, who said his colleagues had only expressed their own personal opinions. (RFE/RL Weekday Magazine, 27 July)
TOUGHER DRAFT MEDIA LAWS UNDER CONSIDERATION. The Russian State Duma is expected to consider this fall a controversial media bill that would establish a special ethics council and could introduce major censorship provisions into what are now quite liberal media laws. Russian private television NTV recently aired excerpts of the draft and showed examples of reports which it says could provoke warnings from the council. NTV says a media organization could lose its license after just two warnings. According to the report, the draft would make it a crime to disparage a person's dignity if an interviewer "takes advantage of [his] interviewee's emotional state whose consequences he does not appreciate." The bill, a long-standing pet project of the Duma's Communist faction, earlier was rejected by former President Boris Yeltsin. (RFE/RL Weekday Magazine, 27 July)
TALKS ON SALE OF MEDIA-MOST, ORT BEGIN. Embattled media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky may sell his Media-MOST company to Gazprom as part of a deal to have the charges against him dropped, "Kommersant" reported on 1 August. Robert Coalson, a National Press Institute analyst in Russia, told AP that the Russian state is using Gazprom to advance its interests "so that it looks more palatable than owning it directly, as in Soviet times." Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported that talks have begun on the sale to the state of the ORT Public Russian Television network owned by the embattled Boris Berezovsky. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)
RUSSIANS SAY GOVERNMENT THREATENS MEDIA FREEDOM. According to the results of a poll published in "Novoe vremya" (no. 30), some 39 percent of those who think media freedom in Russia is threatened now say that the federal government is the major source of that threat. Eighteeen percent said the special services were to blame, while 18 percent blamed the oligarchs. The poll also found that the fear of a threat to media freedom varies widely across the country. In the Far East, 51 percent believe media freedom is threatened, and only 22 percent say that it is not; in the southern portion of the country, 19 percent say there is a threat while 55 percent discount that possibility. The poll, conducted by the Independent Political Research Agency, said that 34 percent of the respondents found television to be the most credible of the country's media. Thirteen percent named the press, and 10 percent said radio is the most reliable. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August)
GOVERNORS GO ONLINE TO DEFEND THEIR INTERESTS. Russia's governors may be in danger of losing their most widely-watched public forum, the Federation Council, but the proliferation of new websites in Russia suggests that they still have at least one alternative forum. For example, the private website http://www.shaimiev.com just came online, "Kommersant-Daily" recently reported. So far, the site bears only a photograph of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev along with an e-mail link to the address firstname.lastname@example.org. The anonymous creator of the site claims that it is a private initiative to provide objective information about Tatarstan and its leader. But Shaimiev's press secretary, Erik Murtazin, said that the owner of the domain name hinted that its creator might have more remunerative goals in mind. According to Murtazin, the domain name owner approached his office and offered to sell the name and hinting that if it was not bought, the site might be used to dispense harmful information about the president. Murtazin said that he responded that they weren't interested and would respond to any slander with a lawsuit. Murtazin suggested that any of the readers of "Kommersant" who really want to know more about Shaimiev should consult his personal page at http://www.tatar.ru/president. That site shows Shaimiev engaged in a variety of pastimes--but not gambling. If Shaimiev had bought his own domain name, he might have found himself in the company of several other governors, including Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel (http://www.rossel.ru), Samara Governor Konstantin Titov (http://www.samara.titov.ru), Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev (http://www.tuleev.ru) and Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko (http://www.nazdratenko.ru). Nazdratenko's site is perhaps the most fun, with its unabashed self-promotion, its opening photo of Nazdratenko posed pompously over a city skyline, and frequent references to Nazdratenko's "manliness." The photo is at least realistic, since not a single light appears to be on in the city. Nazdratenko, who is known for his rocky relationships with the media, among other things, has a link on his media page to the publication "Vladivostok," which at one time provided negative coverage of the governor's activities. Under the heading "personal qualities," visitors may learn that Nazdratenko "works from six or seven in the morning to 10 or 11 at night." He doesn't smoke or drink and leads a healthy lifestyle. Despite his long work hours, Nazdratenko is a "remarkable family man, a loving husband and father." The site also contains testimonials to Nazdratenko's qualities from State Duma deputy (Communist) Viktor Ilyukhin, Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishaev, and Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel. Of course, none of them accuse the governor of being easily approachable; and under the category "return link," visitors are directed to use the e-mail address email@example.com ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 26 July)
VLADIVOSTOK JOURNALIST IS LATER FREED. Irina Grebnova, the editor of Vladivostok's "Arsenevskie vesti," was released from jail on 1 August after serving five days for publishing transcripts of telephone conversations of the region's governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko, Russian and Western agencies reported. She told NTV that "this period of confinement will in no way affect the newspaper's activity, stressing that her paper "will continue to publish everything that it believes needs to be published." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)
RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS HAVE POST-SOVIET DEATH TOLL OF 120. The Russian Union of Journalists says that a total of 120 Russian journalists have been killed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, AFP reported on 30 July. That number includes Sergei Novikov, the head of an independent radio station in Smolensk, who was shot and killed on 27 July, ITAR-TASS reported. His radio station, Vesna, was openly critical of local authorities, and some residents are linking that stance to Novikov's murder. The Russian Union of Journalists called the killing of Novikov "an attack on freedom of speech, on the right of society to know the truth about itself." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27-28 July)
INVESTIGATORS SAY BABITSKY LAWYERS DELAYING CASE. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry's investigation committee said on 1 August that his agency believes that defense lawyers for RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky are dragging their feet, ITAR-TASS reported. Interfax reported the same day that the investigator involved has signed an order limiting the time allowed to the accused and his counsel to familiarize themselves with the case. Babitsky, who was detained in Chechnya earlier this year, is charged with violating Russian passport regulations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)
SERBIAMEDIA RULES SET FOR KOSOVO ELECTIONS. The Kosovo Central Elections Commission has adopted rules for the media during the run-up to the forthcoming municipal elections to ensure that coverage is fair, accurate, equitable, and impartial. The Electoral Rule on the Media applies to broadcast and the print media and includes news reporting, campaign advertising, and party political broadcasts. (OSCE Press release, 31 July)
PETRITSCH APPOINTS RADIO-TV BOARD MEMBERS. In Banja Luka, international community High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch appointed five out of six members to the governing board of Radio-Televizija Republike Srpske on 27 July. It is not clear when he will name the sixth person, who is expected to head the board, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 1 August)
SERBIAN GOVERNMENT TO TAKE CONTROL OF INTERNET. New legislation for public companies, which comes into effect in Serbia on 27 July, will affect the Internet, Internet service provider Beograd.com reported the same day. According to the company, the legislation provides for private providers being compelled to contract with the Serbian government in the field of telecommunications and information. In practical terms, said Beograd.com, this means that user lists, their activities, and the content of their e-mail correspondence would be available to the Serbian authorities. It could also mean that the government could push rates for Internet access up to a level at which no one could afford and then establish a monopoly on Internet provision, leaving Internet access in the hands of the government and its supporters. EUnet Marketing Director Darko Dunjic announced that an association of providers would be established in order to defend the privacy of users. (ANEM Report, 27 July)
INTERNATIONAL CONCERN OVER PAPER SHORTAGE. The World Association of Newspapers and the World Forum of Editors today expressed concern at the ongoing shortage of newsprint in Yugoslavia and the restrictions placed by the Yugoslav government on the import of paper. In an open letter to Federal Information Minister Goran Matic, both organizations demanded that newsprint be distributed equally to all publishers in Yugoslavia and that restrictions on the import of paper be lifted. (ANEM Report, 24 July)
SERBIAN COURT SENTENCES FILIPOVIC TO SEVEN YEARS. A military court in Nis sentenced Miroslav Filipovic on 26 July to seven years in prison for writing about atrocities committed by Serbian forces in Kosova in 1999. His attorneys will contest the ruling, "Blic" reported. In New York, Amnesty International said in a statement that the authorities should investigate the veracity of Filipovic's reports rather than put him in jail for writing them. In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said that the court ruling "is, of course, in keeping with the [Slobodan] Milosevic regime's typical attitude to try to muzzle Serbia's independent media by seizing or shutting down facilities, by expelling foreign journalists, and threatening or even beating those brave enough to report the truth amongst their own journalist corps," AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July)
LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE AT FILIPOVIC SENTENCE. More than 300 journalists from Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska and Yugoslav correspondents from abroad sent a letter to President Slobodan Milosevic demanding the release of Miroslav Filipovic. The petition was organized by the Belgrade daily "Danas," where Filipovic had been a correspondent (FreeB92, 30 July). The Nis branch of the Civil Alliance of Serbia has called on journalists not to report on activities of the Yugoslav Army until the conviction of Kraljevo's Filipovic is revoked. (ANEM Report, 28 July) Meanwhile, the European Union voiced its support for journalist Filipovic and harshly condemned the Nis Military Court decision. International journalist's organizations also protested the sentence, including the International Press Institute, the International Federation of Journalists, and Article 19. The OSCE Representative for Media Freedom, Freimut Duve, expressed "astonishment at the severity" of Filipovic's sentence and drew attention of the G8 group to a letter he had received from Serbian Information Minister Ivan Markovic which "addressed him as a German spy and described independent Serbian journalists as traitors." Duve drew an analogy between the Markovic comments and those of the Soviet government of several decades past. (OSCE Press Release, 28 July)
SERBIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS AT RFE/RL. Local pro-democracy groups in Yugoslavia increasingly are working together to mount a challenge to Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, leading Yugoslav democratic activists told an RFE/RL briefing in Washington on 26 July. Branislav Canak, founder and chairman of the Independent Journalists' Union of Serbia and president of the UGS Nezavisnost independent trade union confederation, said that the Yugoslav people overwhelmingly want political change. He added, however, that their ability to cooperate with one another is limited because most people there no longer are prepared to trust groups that have failed to deliver in the past. To overcome this skepticism, which contributes to divisions within the political opposition and which is being exploited by Milosevic and his allies, Canak and his colleague Gordana Mitic said that the confederation's "Partnership for Democratic Change in Serbia" program is seeking to promote "small islands of civil society" across Yugoslavia. Canak noted that the 26 July visit to the RFE/RL bureau in Belgrade by federal tax police represented the kind of intimidation Yugoslav opposition groups have long experienced. Expressing his personal surprise that Milosevic had not moved earlier against RFE/RL "because of the way you are doing your job," Canak expressed his confidence that RFE/RL will find a way to continue broadcasts that he said are so "useful" for the Yugoslav people. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 28 July)
RFE/RL JOURNALISTS: 'WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK.' Several correspondents for RFE/RL's South Slavic Service told a press conference in Nis that they will continue to do their jobs, despite recent threats from Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic against them. Belgrade bureau chief Milica Lucic-Cavic stressed that the real reason that the government opposes the station is that it is the foreign broadcaster with the largest audience in Serbia, namely 14 percent of the total population, "Danas" reported. She rejected Matic's charges that the station is a "propaganda arm" of U.S. foreign policy, adding that she and her colleagues do not consider themselves propagandists for anyone. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 July)
OSCE SUSPENDS 'DITA.' Temporary Media Commissioner in Kosova Douglas Davidson, who is the head of OSCE Media Affairs, has ordered the Albanian-language newspaper "Dita" to suspend operations immediately after it failed to pay a fine for violating the Print Regulation signed by Bernard Kouchner on 17 June. On 4 July, "Dita" published an article, together with a clearly identifiable photograph of two people and their current addresses, and implied the two individuals were war criminals. The TMC warned the paper on 6 July that it had breached the regulation which prohibits publishing information which could endanger an individual's life or security. The Temporary Media Commissioner is authorized to impose such sanctions. This is the second "Dita" suspension; it was first closed two months ago by executive order of Bernard Kouchner, the UN secretary-general's special representative, after an individual named in a "Dita" article was found dead two weeks later. (OSCE Press release, 27 July)
RADIO B2-92 NOW ALSO IN ALBANIAN. For three months Radio B2-92 news bulletins have been broadcast on about 30 radio stations in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, and Ukraine as well as in Kosova on Radio Kontakt in Pristhina and Kosovska Mitrovica. Radio B2-92 now prepares news programs in Albanian every day at 2:30 pm, the first produced in Belgrade and translated into Albanian, and which are now available on the Free B92 website together with bulletins in Serbian, English, and Hungarian. The B2-92 website also presents debates, the magazines "Rec" and "ProFemina," Radio B2-92 live webstream, video programs by ANEM and B2-92, award-winning films, and the Truth, Responsibility and Reconciliation website. (ANEM press release, 27 July)
BOMBING VICTIM'S MOTHER REFUSES TO JOIN SUIT. Zanka Stojanovic, the mother of one of the state media employees killed in last year's NATO attack on Radio Television Serbia, has refused an offer from Radio Television Serbia to join it in charging the Italian government over the bombing. Stojanovic said in a letter to Media Director Dragoljub Milanovic that, after 15 months of silence, the station's offer appeared sarcastic. (ANEM Report, 23 July)
RADIO SENTA BACK ON THE AIR. Radio Senta, the local Vojvodina station which was banned on 3 April 1999 by the Federal Ministry of Telecommunications, resumed operating yesterday. Radio Senta broadcasts current affairs programs in Serbian and Hungarian. (ANEM Report, 25 July)
POPOVIC COMPLAINT DISMISSED. The Kikinda Municipal Court has dismissed charges by state Media Editor Rajko Popovic against local weekly "Kikindske novine" as unjustified. Popovic was seeking damages of 150,000 dinars from the founder and editor of "Kikindske novine" for personal suffering caused by publication of an article titled "Raja's trip paid for by Kikinda citizens." Popovic has lodged an appeal with a higher court. (ANEM Report, 27 July)
UKRAINERESTRICTIVE FREQUENCY LICENSING REQUIREMENTS OVERTURNED. On 14 April, the Supreme Arbitration Court invalidated that segment of a 1998 Cabinet of Ministers decree which stipulated that broadcasters acquire an additional "license for frequency use." The high license fee would have required an advertising market much larger than existed and would have resulted in the closure of numerous stations. The Association of Ukrainian Radio Broadcasters (AURB) at that time held that this decree violated the 92nd article of the Ukrainian Constitution, under which non-state broadcasters of Ukraine can only be regulated through acting legislation--which does not include a Cabinet of Ministers decree--and the AURB appealed to legislators. In late 1999, the AURB took its case to the Supreme Arbitration Court of Ukraine, and filed suit against the State Communication Committee and the State Licensing Chamber. (Ukraine, Belarus & Southern Caucasus Internews Network, 13 July)
PRESIDENT CALLS FOR INTERNET DEVELOPMENT. Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree on Internet development in Ukraine, Interfax reported on 31 July. It obliges the government to provide Internet connections to scientific organizations, educational and cultural institutions, as well as to a wider segment of the population. The government is also to draft a bill on the protection of intellectual property and copyrights on the Web. The decree stipulates that by the end of 2000 the government must create websites for all central and local executive power bodies as well as for leading scientific and educational institutions in Ukraine. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August)
INTERNATIONAL CONCERNSGOVERNMENTS URGED TO PROTECT ROMANI RIGHTS. U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Congressman Christopher H. Smith urged governments on 1 August to do more "to address the continuing human rights violations against Roma." He also noted that "From New York to Berlin to Auschwitz, August 2 and 3 are the days during which Roma gather to remember the tragedy that befell their people during World War II. On that night, in 1944, the order was given to liquidate the Romany camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In a single evening, 2,897 Romany men, women, and children were killed in gas chambers." Scholars estimate that 500,000 Romany perished during the Holocaust. Smith called on governments to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination laws to "protect Roma from the discrimination they now face in public places, education, employment, housing and [in gaining] access to health care." Statements from the Helsinki Commission's 8 June hearing on Romany human rights issues are available at: http://www.house.gov/csce/ (Helsinki Commission Press Release, 1 August)
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS, FESTIVALSSUMMER SCHOOL FOR INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE AND UNDERSTANDING. The Helsinki Citizens' Assembly (HCA) is holding a Summer School for Inter-Cultural Dialogue and Understanding (SIDU) in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 27 September to 8 October. Applications should be sent to the HCA International Secretariat by 18 August 2000. For a SIDU application package, contact Helsinki Citizens' Assembly: firstname.lastname@example.org (MINELRES, 30 July)
RECENT PUBLICATIONS, NEW WEBSITESDEION ASSOCIATES & STRATEGIES WEBSITE. The website of Deion Associates & Strategies is a page with links to 24 online sources of information about sources of funds for public interest organizations. The page is titled "Directory: Fundraising, Grants, Philanthropy" and is located at: http://www.deionassociates.com/hplist/funds.htm. The homepage offers a chat room, message forum, a directory of hyperlinked articles, various Power Point presentations, an information request form, links to a few "Sites of the Month," and a "Helpful Home Page List" of 2,400 links in 160 categories. (Center for Civil Society International, 26 July)
EURASIANET IS LAUNCHED. A new daily Internet news and analytic service on the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, plus related developments in Russia, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, is now available at http://www.eurasianet.org. The service includes daily news from the BBC, RFE/RL, and Interfax, a regional databook with original content, analytical articles, a question and answer section with newsmakers, special sections on human rights, the environment, elections and book reviews, and resources pages.
MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES NEWSLETTER. Dmitri Samartsev of Information/Communication Department of Medecins Sans Frontieres Uzbekistan (Aral Sea Area Program) prepares a weekly newsletter called Central Asia Online (CAO) which presents a variety of local and international sources on the political and humanitarian events taking place in the Central Asian Republics of the former USSR, northern China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Contact Dmitri Samartsev at email@example.com. or the webpage of Medecins Sans Frontieres Aral Sea Area Program on: http://www.msf.org/aralsea (Center for Civil Society International, 31 July)
NOW ONLINE: COEXISTENCE RESOURCE CENTER. The CRC is an online resource center developed to support the diverse field of coexistence. Its purpose is to aid the practitioner, academic, policymaker, or activist to identify relevant coexistence resources, information, or expertise. The site is an international gateway and collection of practical resources on coexistence. Information is primarily in English, however the site notes where resources are available in other languages. Visit CRC at http://www.coexistence.net/resource_centre (The Coexistence Initiative, 24 July)
END NOTEWHEN WORDS COUNT
By Paul Goble
An analysis published in Moscow of Russian President Vladimir Putin's state of the nation address suggests but does not necessarily prove that he is significantly less committed to democracy, human rights and integration with the West than was his predecessor Boris Yeltsin.
That conclusion flows from a content analysis of their respective state-of-the-nation speeches in 2000 and 1995. Prepared by the Russian newspaper "Moskovskiy komsomolets" and published in "The Moscow Times" last week, this study found that the greatest difference between Putin and his predecessor was precisely on questions involving the formation of a civil society and integration with Europe.
In his speech this year, Putin did not mention democracy or human rights at all and used the term reform only twice, a sharp departure from Yeltsin's record. In 1995, then-President Yeltsin mentioned democracy 11 times, reforms 13 times, and his commitment to human rights three times. And on the question of Europe, while Yeltsin referred to Europe and European integration 13 times, Putin did not mention that term at all.
Arguing that Russia faced similar problems in 1995 and 2000 and thus a comparison of the leaders' speeches provides a useful benchmark of what the two men think, "Moskovskiy komsomolets" ran these findings under the headline "Now Everyone Knows What Putin Wants."
These findings are fully consistent with what many analysts of the Russian scene have observed. Putin has adopted a more authoritarian style, and he is certainly less given than was Yeltsin to talking about themes like democracy, human rights, and integration popular in the West than reflecting a new and more self-confident Russian statism.
But there are three reasons to think that these findings, as impressive as they appear, may not be as definitive as the Moscow newspaper suggests.
First, Putin and Yeltsin have very different personal styles. Yeltsin simply talked more and about more things than Putin does, and consequently, a comparison of Putin's rather abbreviated remarks with Yeltsin's more extensive ones is not entirely fair to either man.
Indeed, the paper notes that in 1995, Yeltsin discussed Chechnya 18 times. Putin mentioned it only twice, but the current Russian president's involvement in that conflict suggests that he is no less interested in what is taking place there but appears to believe that his policy is best served by not discussing the war than by calling attention to it as Yeltsin did.
Second, the assertions of "Moskovskiy komsomolets" notwithstanding, the situation of Russia in 2000 is very different than the situation that country found itself in five years earlier. Not only is the Russian Federation five years older than it was in 1995, but Moscow and its leaders have experienced all the intervening events: a new war in Chechnya, an economic collapse, and now an oil-export-driven recovery.
Five years ago, Yeltsin shared or at least was prepared to defer to Western expectations about Russia's future development. Now, Putin has indicated in a whole variety of ways that Moscow will go its own way and make its own decisions, a shift which some Western leaders have welcomed as an indication that a more self-confident Russia may prove to be a better partner than was a Russia prepared to follow the West's lead.
And third, content analysis based on word counts alone while extremely attractive as a means of presenting information quickly and easily sometimes proves unreliable. One leader may invoke words he thinks his audience may want to hear even though he himself does not believe in them, while another leader may be deeply attached to an idea but not feel compelled to talk about it nearly as much.
Using the "Moskovskiy komsomolets" study to draw conclusions about Yeltsin rather than Putin, for example, some might be tempted to say that Yeltsin was a committed democrat and deeply supportive of human rights and integration with Europe. But an examination of some of Yeltsin's other behaviour might call that conclusion into question.
Nonetheless, words do count, and by failing to include references to democracy and human rights in his speech, Putin has sent a signal that he intends to lead Russia in a very different direction than Yeltsin did.