During the past three months of a violent and contentious election season in Europe's last autocratic stronghold, RFE/RL journalists in Belarus have faced the most intense harassment since they first began working inside the country 30 years ago.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
Two French journalists working for the French daily Le Monde have been seriously wounded while reporting on the fighting in Azerbaijan’s disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, officials said on October 1. President Emmanuel Macron said the French Foreign Ministry was working to organize the journalists’ repatriation “as quickly as possible.”
Citing local media, RFE/RL’s Russian Service reports that the Russian State Duma Committee on Information.Policy is drafting a bill that would slow access to foreign Internet services and social platforms that ignore Russian laws, including Facebook and Twitter. (Russian Service)
Moscow’s Bassmanyi district court has once again fined independent the Russian media outlet Novaya Gazeta and its editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov for “knowingly disseminating unreliable socially significant information.” The 260,000 ruble ($3,356) fine was handed down for a story by Elena Milashina that examined a spike in coronavirus infections in Chechnya and attempts of local authorities to hide the true state of the pandemic in the region. In August, Novaya Gazeta was also fined 260,000 rubles for a coronavirus story by Valery Shiryaev. (Russian Service)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Georgian authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists covering the parliamentary election campaign in the country after TV crews were attacked during clashes between pro-government and pro-opposition activists. In an October 1 statement, the Paris-based media watchdog warned that the environment for journalists has "worsened" in Georgia in the run-up to the October 31 vote.
The Pakistani-born teenager arrested on suspicion of attacking two people with a meat cleaver has admitted to deliberately targeting the former Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine. The 18-year-old, named by investigators as Hassan A., reportedly tied the attack to the satirical magazine’s recent republication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, investigators said on September 26. The attack came roughly three weeks after the start of the trial in Paris of 14 suspected accomplices in the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 were killed.
When Bulgarian writer Svetoslav Nahum’s book Escape From Crimea was published in Sofia last year, he expected support from the Union of Bulgarian Writers (SBP) -- a century-old Sofia-based literary organization. Nahum’s book depicts the tribulations faced by Ukrainians who fled their homes in Crimea after the territory was occupied by Russian military forces in 2014 and illegally annexed by the Kremlin.
Baktash Abtin, Kayvan Bazhan, and Reza Khandan have started serving prison sentences in Tehran’s Evin prison, while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, with the condition of inmates in the infamous jail having been described as “deplorable.” The three are charged with membership in, and active support of, the Writers' Association of Iran -- the country’s first professional association of Iranian writers, whose members have repeatedly been subject to harassment and prosecution. (Radio Farda)
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the transfer of political prisoner Soheil Arabi to solitary confinement in Iran’s Raja'ei Shahr prison. Iranian agents placed the 35-year-old blogger in solitary confinement after he exposed the "deplorable condition" of the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (GTP) in an audio file leaked out of the notorious jail. (Radio Farda)
Pakistan's Supreme Court has accepted an appeal by the family of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl challenging the acquittal of a British-born Pakistani man accused of murdering the Wall Street Journal reporter in 2002. The Supreme Court said on September 28 that it will begin hearing next week the appeal over a lower court's acquittal in April of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been on death row since his conviction in 2002 over Pearl's killing. (Gandhara)
Russia’s Investigative Committee has completed its investigation into the murder of Gadzhimurad Kamalov, founder of the Daghestani newspaper Chernovik, who was killed in 2011. Investigators accuse former Deputy Prime Minister of Daghestan Shamil Isayev of organizing the murder, finding that the ex-minister and Kamalov were in conflict over materials published by the newspaper. (Russian Service/Kavkaz Realii)