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Beatings And Incarcerations: The Dangers Of Running For President In Belarus
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The Dangers Of Running For President In Belarus

INCIDENTS AND THREATS

Belarus Intensifies Media Crackdown As Protests Erupt Over Elections

Thousands of people across Belarus protested and scuffles broke out with police on July 14 after a top challenger to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was barred from running in the country's election next month. More than 140 demonstrators and a dozen journalists were detained across the country, among them two from RFE/RL while they were livestreaming the protests from the capital city, Minsk. See Belarus’s Bloggers: Do they pose a bigger threat to President Lukashenka than political parties do?

Ex-Journalist Safronov Formally Indicted For High Treason By Russian Investigators

Former Russian military journalist Ivan Safronov, an aide to the chief of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, was indicted for state treason on July 13, a charge that carries a potential 20-year prison sentence. Safronov has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, explained to RFE/RL’s Current Time network that such cases in the past have targeted spies, politicians, or scientists, but not journalists. Safronov was not shown the evidence against him, which allegedly dates from 2017, when he was working for the daily newspaper Kommersant, Pavlov said. Moscow police on July 13 detained about 20 supporters of Safronov near the Lefortovo detention center, where he is being held. Today, a Moscow court will consider Safronov’s appeal against his arrest. Numerous Russian editors, journalists, scholars, and activists have vouched for his behavior and urged for him to be released under their personal guarantees.

Svetlana Prokopyeva Appeals Court-Issued Fine

Lawyers of Pskov-based journalist and contributor to RFE/RL’s Russian Service Svetlana Prokopyeva filed an appeal against the verdict of a district military court, which found her guilty on July 3 of “justifying terrorism.” Prokopyeva was issued a fine of 500,000 rubles (about $6,950) in a case widely criticized by rights monitors as an attack on freedom of speech. (Russian Service) Prokopyeva received the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom award on July 13. Funds to help Svetlana pay the fine are being raised here.

Russian Lawmakers Give Initial Approval To Expanded 'Extremism" Law Aimed At Crimea

Russia's State Duma has approved in the first reading a bill that punishes anyone questioning Moscow’s forcible seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said on July 14 that the bill will ensure that "calls for the violation of Russia's territorial integrity, including calls to alienate parts of its territory, will be considered extremism."

Duma Proposes Fines For Failure To Remove Banned Information From Internet

Russia’s State Duma committee on Information Policy has introduced amendments to the country’s administrative code proposing fines starting at $700 and reaching $210,599 for failure to remove online information prohibited in Russia. The draft does not clarify the information in question. Higher fines are proposed for failure to remove information relating to “extremism, child pornography, or how to purchase, manufacture, or use drugs.” (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Ukraine Urged To Protect Journalist Threatened Over Her Reporting

Human Rights Watch is urging Ukraine's authorities to investigate death threats against Kateryna Sergatskova, a local independent journalist who has written about the alleged influence of far-right groups on the fact-checking website StopFake.org.

Kyiv Court Eases Pretrial Restrictions For Suspect In Killing Of Journalist Pavel Sheremet

A Kyiv court has eased pretrial restrictions for one of the suspects in the high-profile 2016 killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet in the Ukrainian capital. The Kyiv Court of Appeals on July 13 agreed to lift curfew restrictions for military paramedic Yana Duhar. Who are the five suspects in Sheremet’s murder?

Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Block Reappointment Of OSCE Media Freedom Official Harlem Dezir

Tajikistan has objected to extending the mandate of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir. Desir has recently criticized the Tajik government’s refusal to accredit journalists with RFE/RL’s Tajik Service and its attacks on other independent media inside the country. A source inside the OSCE told RFE/RL that the government had recently complained in a letter that, while professing to promote media freedom, the organization supports media that “provide a platform for terrorists and extremists.” Azerbaijan and Turkey have also objected to Desir’s reappointment. Twenty-nine press freedom organizations signed a letter on July 9 expressing support for Désir’s reappointment. Renewing his position for another three years requires the unanimous support of the OSCE’s 57 member states. (in Russian, Tajik Service)

Tajik President Signs Amendments On ‘Fake News’

Tajik President Emomali Pahmon on July 4 signed new amendments to the administrative code establishing fines for disseminating false information about the coronavirus pandemic as well as not wearing face masks. Rights activists and media watchdogs have criticized the measures, warning they could be used to prosecute activists and independent journalists. Read: Tajik Prosecutors Summon Journalist’s Family After His Coverage Of Coronavirus. (in Russian, Tajik Service)

Iranian Journalist Sentenced To Death For Role In Protests

Ruhollah Zam, an Iranian opposition journalist and activist whose online work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017, has been sentenced to death for his actions following what Reporters Without Borders called a “grossly unfair” trial. A judiciary spokesperson said on June 30 that the country’s Revolutionary Court judged the 13 charges against Zam to be “the equivalent of the charge of spreading ‘corruption on earth’ and therefore passed the death sentence.”

INFOGRAPHIC: Srebrenica Anniversary

PHOTOGALLERY: Climate In Trouble? Icebergs Float Through Armenian City After Freak Summer Storm

About Journalists in Trouble

Journalists in Trouble is a bi-weekly report of incidents targeting RFE/RL journalists and their work, and developments affecting press freedom in our coverage region.​

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