INFOGRAPHIC: More Russians Get News From Social Media
Television may still be the primary source of news in Russia, but 42% of Russians now get their daily news from social media, and 39% get their news via the Internet.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law bills that beef up fines for violating a controversial law on "foreign agents" as well as other legislation relating to protests, such as the financing of rallies and disobedience of law enforcement, in the wake of unsanctioned protests in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. One of the signed by Putin on February 24 makes releasing information about so-called "foreign agents" and their materials without also reporting their status could lead to fines of up to 2,500 rubles ($34) for individuals and up to 500,000 rubles ($6,720) for legal entities. The law applies regardless of whether the "foreign agent" in question is a mass media outlet or an individual.
In addition to the already existing lists of “foreign agent” NGO’s and “foreign agent” media, Russian Justice Ministry will create another list of the so-called “foreign agents” that will include non-registered and unincorporated public organizations financed from abroad and engaged in conducting political activities in Russia. (Russian Service)
Regional independent journalists see Belarus’ imprisonment of two journalists for streaming an unauthorized rally in Minsk as a warning to all journalists covering the ongoing political unrest in Belarus over the country’s disputed official 2020 presidential election results. With another Belarusian journalist now also on trial for her reporting, that hypothesis may soon be tested.
Citing his absence from a questioning session, the Ukrainian National Security Service has issued a warrant for the arrest of noted Ukrainian blogger Anatoliy Shariy, well-known for his strong pro-Russia stance. Investigators have also provided Shariy’s lawyer Valentin Rybin with materials from the proceedings and the restrictive measure that they will submit to the court for review. Shariy himself wrote on Facebook that, for the Ukrainian authorities, he is "worse than the former president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko." Shariy is accused of treason and “violation of the equality of citizens based on their race, nationality, religious beliefs, disability, and on other grounds,” (in Russian, Current Time TV)
RFE/RL Russian Service contributor Svetlana Prokopyeva has paid a $6,687.76 fine ordered by the court in a case where she was accused of “justifying terrorism.” Prokopyeva wrote that it turned out to be easier to collect the funds than to actually pay the fine, for which, as a person included on Russia’s official list of "terrorists and extremists," she had to write a special explanatory statement. Additionally, she was charged a commission. Prkoppyeva wrote that she hopes that the money will go to the budget of the Pskov region, where she lives. In July 2020, Prokopyeva was convicted by a court in Pskov of "justifying terrorism" over a commentary she prepared for the local affiliate of Ekho Moskvy radio in November 2018. Prokopyeva denies all charges, saying she was put on trial for doing her job. (Russian Service/Sever.Realii)
A court in Georgia has sentenced a Russian citizen to four years in prison for involvement in an alleged plot to kill a Georgian journalist. The Tbilisi City Court on February 20 found Magomed Gutsiyev, a native of Russia's North Caucasus region, guilty of illegal border-crossing, forgery, and the illegal surveillance of journalist Giorgi Gabunia. Gutsiyev was arrested by Georgian authorities in June with documents identifying him as Vasambek Bokov.
A correspondent and a cameraman of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service were assaulted while covering an opposition demonstration in Yerevan on Tuesday. Several participants of the demonstration kicked the journalists and shouted abuse at them. They also damaged the crew’s video camera. The incident took place as hundreds of supporters of the opposition Homeland Salvation Movement marched through the city center to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation. The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the attack and human rights activists stems from a lack of responsibility for obstructing the work of journalists. (Armenian Service)
A prominent Kosovo investigative journalist said he was physically attacked by three masked individuals on February 25 while walking to his home outside the capital shortly after midnight. Visar Duriqi, who works for online portal Insajderi, told RFE/RL in a statement that he suffered four broken teeth, a broken nose, and injuries to his upper body in the attack. “After I parked the car and started walking towards my apartment building, I was first attacked by one person, and then two more people joined in beating me,” Duriqi told RFE/RL in a statement.
A Serbian court has sentenced a former mayor to more than four years in prison for being behind an arson attack on the home of an investigative reporter. Dragoljub Simonovic, the former mayor of Grocka, a Belgrade suburb, and a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), was found guilty of ordering the attack on the house of corruption journalist Milan Jovanovic in December 2018. He was sentenced to four years and three months in jail by the court in Belgrade on February 23.
A media watchdog has called on Turkey to halt the expulsion of an Iranian journalist sentenced to prison for alleged activities against the regime after criticizing Tehran's response to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S-based Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement on January 18 that Mohammad Mosaed contacted the group a day earlier, saying he had been detained by Turkish border police after crossing into Turkey from Iran at the eastern border city of Van. Mosaed told the CPJ that he fled to Turkey after being summoned by Iranian authorities to begin serving his prison sentence. (Radio Farda)
Uzbekistan’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a decree on organizing visits of representatives of the diplomatic corps, international and local non-governmental organizations and the media to penitentiary institutions. According to the new regulation, members of local media and NGO’s will have to apply for permission to the Main Directorate for Sentence Execution of the Internal Affairs Ministry, and the application will be reviewed within 15 days. Representatives of the diplomatic corps, foreign media and foreign NGO’s will have to apply through the Foreign Affairs Ministry; in these cases, the application will be reviewed within five days. (Uzbek Service)