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Weekly report of events in the mass media of CIS states by xiangpeng


									                         Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations
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                                    Moscow 119021, Russia
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                                A HIGH-RISK JOB
             Weekly report of events in the mass media of CIS states
                 Issue no. 38, September 30 – October 6, 2002

I. Attacks on Journalists and Threats


       Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on September 30 told National
Security Council Secretary Tedo Dzhaparidze to investigate a police attack on the
local TV company Odishi in Zugdidi. The police ravaged the company's office in an
act of revenge for numerous reports displeasing to them.


       Zerkalo Nedeli newspaper corespondents Volodymyr Fomenko and Ilya
Khomenko in Chernihiv asked the Kyiv prosecution service on September 30 to
investigate an attempt on their lives. They had found that the braking oil had been let
to pour out of their car. They have been hearing threats on the telephone and seen
that somebody was following them on the streets for six months.

II. Journalist Killed


       Nino Gabidzashvili, 23, of Tbilisi-based 9th Channel company died in a road
accident outside Zestafon, Western Georgia, on October 3. Cameramen of the 9th
Channel and the National Television driving with her on an assignment were injured.

III. Judicial and Legal Persecution


       Armenian media workers met with European Court of Human Rights
President Luzius Wildhaber in Yerevan on October 3. Asked when the court would
hear the case of A1+ TV company if it takes the case up, Wildhaber said that this
could happen within two years.

       Minsk's Oktyabrsky District Court started hearing the libel suit filed by
Vyacheslav Terekhovich, investigator of the prosecution service, against the
Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta. The man headed investigation in the case of Gomel
State Medical Institute Rector Yuri Bandazhevsky sentenced by the Supreme Court
to an eight-year prison term on charges of bribe taking. Terekhovich wants the paper
to withdraw allegations that he had doctored the evidence.


       Almaty's Medeo District Court sent the case of arson in the office of Delovoye
Obozreniye Respublika back for additional investigation. The judge did not find
convincing the evidence that the paper's head Muratbek Ketebayev had himself
hired the arsonists. The court noted inconsistencies in the stories told by the
accused and that the prosecution had overlooked circumstances preceding the
arson such as a dog's head planted in the paper's office, a burial wreath sent to
editor-in-chief Irina Petrushova and numerous telephone threats.


       A Reporters without Borders team has found that local authorities bring
pressure to bear on media, said Mariya Sambur, a lawyer from the Institute of Mass
Information who visited the town of Yuzhnyi, Odessa oblast, with the team to look
into a conflict between the authorities and opposition newspaper Veksel. Town
Mayor Oleksadr Zhuravel and the town executive council's property manager
Nadezhda Shumeiko interfered in the operation of the paper and tried to ruin it, in
particular by tax and fire service officials raiding it. This kind of technique has also
been practised in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast against Halychyna newspaper, Poltava
oblast (Mirgorodskaya Pravda) and elsewhere.
       Court bailiffs of Lugansk's Leninsky District Court on October 1 distrained the
property of the local Rakurs-Plyus newspaper in order to back up the libel suit filed
by the city legislature member Volodymyr Medyanik against the paper. Lugansk
journalists called on parliament to protect the press from "Draconian suits."

              Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
       Kharkiv's Chernozavodskoi District Court started hearing the case of
parliament member Volodymyr Hoshovsky against former parliament member
Volodymyr Alexeyev and Pravo-ATVK company. In the course of the election race
Alexeyev, then still a member of parliament, asked a Security Service official
whether the report published in Ukraina Kriminalnaya newspaper about Hoshovsky
was true. The plaintiff accuses the TV channel of having aired the question.

IV. Other Kinds of Pressure Brought to Bear on Editorial Boards and
Journalists. Conflicts with Authorities and NGOs


       The publication of Azadlyg, one of the most popular Azerbaijani newspaper,
was suspended because of financial troubles. The paper's journalists hope that
financial aid will come.


       United Civil Party Chairman Anatoly Lebedko and his deputy Yaroslav
Romanchuk on September 30 had their baggage thoroughly examined in the Minsk
airport on their return from a session of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary
Assembly session in Strasbourg and a conference of center right parties in Prague.
Customs officials seized copies of Le Monde newspaper, a notebook computer and
       The U.S. embassy in Belarus made public a statement on October 1 about
the trial of Rabochy newspaper editor-in-chief Viktor Ivashkevich sentenced on
September 16 to two years of corrective labor. The statement described the
sentence as a signal that the freedom of the press situation is deteriorating in


       The authorities in Ajaria, an internal republic of Georgia, accused Russia's
Nezavisimaya Gazeta on October 2 of "ideological subversion." The paper had
reported that Ajaria's leader Aslan Abashidze had left the country immediately after

              Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
having been summoned to Tbilisi by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. The
Ajarian leaders intend to sue the paper.


        When Abkhaz journalists Izida Chaniya and Irina Arshba on October 1 tried to
board a Sochi - Yerevan flight to attend a workshop held by the Association of
Caucasus Journalists in the Armenian capital, airport officials said that their
certificates of Russian citizenship were invalid and canceled their tickets.


        The Kazakh parliament debates the Martial Law Bill enabling military
authorities to impose censorship during a martial law period. Some lawmakers
believe that the bill infringes on civil rights and freedoms.
        The Kazakh public discussed last week a resolution passed by an
international conference, held in Moscow on September 27, on political reprisals and
persecution of independent media in Kazakhstan. The conference expressed deep
concern over increasingly strong arbitrary, undemocratic and authoritarian trends in
Kazakhstan's political life.


        The OSCE mission in Moldova made public a press release questioning
professional qualities of governmental Nezavisimaya Moldova newspaper. In
covering a workshop on history education in the country's schools the paper
attributed statements on the opposition to the OSCE that the organization had never


        National Association of Independent Mass Media Chairman Nuriddin
Karshiboyev sent on October 2 letters telling the TV and Radio Broadcasting
Committee and the Anti-Monopoly Policy and Entrepreneurship Support Agency,
both reporting to the Tajik Cabinet, that the Licensing Commission of the TV and
Radio Committee had committed grave offenses against legislation on applications

              Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
to state agencies and anti-monopoly legislation in considering an application filed by
Dzhakhon TV studio for a broadcasting license.
      Karshiboev also asked head of the Communication Ministry's State Inspection
Office head Makhmadali Azizov for help in having the payment of debts incurred by
Simo-TV company in Pendzhikent postponed. The reason why the company cannot
make payments to the ministry is that it cannot collect a 12,000 somoni, an
equivalent of over $4,000, from the local administration.


      The political strife in Ukraine has inevitably led to an increased pressure
brought to bear on the country's media. Developments of the past week centered
around the leading news agency UNIAN. With Vasyl Yurychko becoming the
agency's executive director censorship was installed in UNIAN, journalists say. At
their meeting UNIAN journalists demanded an end to political censorship of their
reports and to threats of dismissal for impartial coverage of events. On October 2
they called on President Leonid Kuchma and parliament Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn
to protect the freedom of speech and information. The agency suspended operation
for four hours on October 3 when journalists held talks with the agency's
management in which a decision was made that no censorship would be imposed.
      The UNIAN managers accused opposition leaders Yuliya Tymoshenko,
Oleksandr Moroz and Petro Symonenko of pressurizing the agency. Moroz said that
he would sue the agency's head Yurychko unless he withdraws his statement.
      The National Union of Journalists, a co-founder of UNIAN, said on October 1
that it would work for maintaining UNIAN's status of an independent agency.
Parliament Freedom of Speech and Media Committee Chairman Mykola Tomenko
sent an open letter to the country's president demanding that the head of state speak
his mind about censorship. Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party expressed concern over
"a caveman's methods used by the authorities to bring pressure to bear on
independent media and total and final destruction of the last pockets of free speech
and independent opinion." Our Ukraine bloc leader Viktor Yushchenko said that the
UNIAN situation, pressure, crude interference in the editorial policy of media suggest
that the relations between the authorities and media have reached a crisis point.
Reporters without Borders expressed solidarity with UNIAN journalists. Head of the
Information Policy Directorate in the presidential headquarters Serhiy Vasylyev
described the developments in the agency as a labor dispute.

             Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
       These developments culminated on October 3 in signing by numerous
journalists of a Ukrainian Journalists' Manifesto on Political Censorship. Journalists
are prepared to stage a national strike in an effort to protect freedom of speech.
       Other important developments also suggested that political censorship is
tightening its stranglehold on Ukraine. Tonis TV company editor of the information
and    analysis   service   Oles   Kovalchuk,   senior   information   editor   Hryhory
Andrushchak, political observer Irina Korol and special correspondent Inna Kapitsa
ended on October 1 cooperation with the company because of the possibility that
political censorship would be introduced. Meanwhile, an opposition rally in
Cherkassy demanded that opposition activists be given TV and radio air time. In
Zhytomir opposition activists picketed on October 3 the oblast TV center holding
posters Journalist, Remember Conscience and No to Censorship.
       Despite all these developments, the case of murdered journalist Georgy
Gongadze remained in the focus of attention.
Parliament European Integration Committee Chairman Borys Tarasyuk said that the
Gongadze case is the chief outstanding problem in relations between Ukraine and
the Council of Europe. Reporters without Borders Secretary General Robert Menard
and French expert Jean Rivolet arrived in Kyiv to see the findings of tests on the so-
called Tarashchany body and take more tests. Prosecutor General Svyatoslav
Pyskun agreed to recognize the findings of the new tests.
       The National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council called on the State
Information Policy, TV and Radio Broadcasting Committee to enable state-run
regional companies use UT-1 and UT-2 channels until new licenses are issued to
them. Parliament Freedom of Speech Committee Chairman Mykola Tomenko
responded by saying that doing so would create a precedent of outrages against the
       Crimean legislature Chairman Borys Deich accused Valery Nizovoi, director
general of state-run Krym TV and Radio company, of having the company work
against rather than for Crimea. Deich told the legislature's presidium to file a report
on the company's activities and present it to the legislature's next session in
       In Sumy the regional printing press, a public company, would not publish
Nashe Slovo, a monthly of the regional Popular Rukh organization, saying that an
issue containing anti-governmental remarks would not go off the press.

              Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
       The editorial board of Kyiv's Vecherniye Vesti asked the prosecutor of the
city's Dniprivsky district to investigate the publication and dissemination of the
paper's forfeit issue on September 24.

V. Restricting Access to Information


       Moya Stolitsa newspaper said on October 1 that unknown people bought up
in kiosks and from street vendors the paper's September 27 issue containing critical
reports on President Askar Akayev's family.


       Alina Angel, a journalist of Timpul weekly, was forcibly removed from the
Moldova Cabinet's building on October 4. She tried to find out how much Moldova
would spend on hosting a CIS summit in Chisinau.


       The prices of newspapers nearly doubled because of inflation in Tajikistan at
the end of September. Outside the capital newspapers are even more expensive.
People in numerous parts of the country who had already been deprived of the
possibility to listen to the radio or watch the television now cannot afford
newspapers, journalists say.

VI. Initiatives of Authorities and NGOs


       Parliament passed a State Language Law under which TV and radio
broadcasts in languages other than the Azerbaijani would not exceed one sixth of
the air time.


                Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
       Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov ordered the setting up of a working
group headed by Culture, Information and Public Accord Minister Mukhtar Kul-
Mukhammed to draft a Mass Media Bill.


       Parliament Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn met on October 1 with heads of
numerous TV and radio companies. Journalists feel pressurized because an ever
greater number of mass media outlets become private, he said. An understanding
was reached at the meeting that amendments would be drafted to legislation on
media operation. TV and radio companies were invited to contribute to this process.

Comment by the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations apprentice legal
adviser Viktoriya Blonskaya
       (V, Moldova) Moldovan legislation covering legal issues in the operation of
mass media is quite extensive. It includes, above all, the country's Constitution
whose article 34 declares the right to access information, the Press Law, the TV and
Radio Law, the Information Access Law and others. Experts say that these
legislative acts are among the best in the CIS and that they assure a favorable
working environment for journalists and other mass media workers.
       This legislation is exemplary but it does not work, as in the case of a Timpul
weekly journalist who tried to obtain information on the costs of hosting a CIS summit
and was turned out of the Moldovan Cabinet building. This happened in defiance of
the Information Access Law whose Part 1, Article 4 reads: "Any party will have a
right under this law to look for, obtain and familiarize oneself with official information."
Furthermore, Article 1 of the Press Law says: "In the Republic of Moldova freedom of
the press is one of the fundamental constitutional rights. The state guarantees
everybody the right to freely express his/her opinion and views, to obtain credible
information on developments inside the country and in the world through periodicals
and news agencies that will operate in an environment of political pluralism. The
state also observance of copyright legislation." In effect, the bureaucrat who ordered
that the journalist be pushed out of an official building must be viewed as an offender
of the country's legislation. Law enforcement agencies should have rein in the
bureaucrat. Let us hope that they will do so.
       Accessing information is the most difficult part of the journalist's job in every
CIS member nation despite the fine pieces of legislation in force there.

              Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
                                Event                           Quantity
Attacks on journalists                        Job-unrelated

                                              Job-related        1- Georgia
                                                                 2- Ukraine
Journalists                                   Job-unrelated    1 – Georgia
Killed                                        Job-related
Journalists detained and arrested
Legal and judicial persecution                                  1 - Armenia
                                                                1 - Belarus
                                                              1 - Kazakhstan
                                                                3 - Ukraine
Other kinds of harassing editorial boards and journalists     1 - Azerbaijan
                                                                2 – Belarus
                                                                2 - Georgia
                                                              2 - Kazakhstan
                                                               1 – Moldova
                                                               2 – Tajikistan
                                                               19 - Ukraine
Restriction of access to information                          1 – Kyrgyzstan
                                                               1 – Moldova
                                                               1 - Tajikistan
Initiatives of authorities and NGOs                             1- Azerbaijan
                                                              2- 1 – Kazakhstan
                                                                3- 1 - Ukraine
Disappeared journalists

               Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations

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