New criminal charges have been filed against jailed Belarusian blogger Ihar Losik, his wife says, adding that upon hearing the charges he restarted a hunger strike. Losik, a consultant for RFE/RL on new-media technologies, also tried to slit his wrists in front of an investigator and a lawyer, his wife Darya told RFE/RL on March 11, citing his lawyer. She said the precise wording of the new charges is unknown, and demanded that Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka tell her why her husband has been in prison for nine months.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
The Russian government plans to significantly increase financing of state-owned TV channel RT, with the goal of growing its audience to 900,000 people per year. Authorities plan to spend no less than 211 billion rubles (approx. $2.87 billion) in the four years from 2021 to 2024 on RT, Radio Sputnik, the RIA Novosti news agency, and the newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, but it is unclear how much money each of the media outlets will get. In Germany, the YouTube channel RT-DE, known until November 2020 as RT Deutsch, is pursuing a broadcasting licence and plans to launch a 24/7 news channel for German audiences. RT-DE has already hired nearly 100 people and continues to hire more journalists, as well as building out expensive studios. Also read -- Former RT journalist in Germany Daniel Lange says he was instructed to spy on Navalny. (Russian Service)
Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) learned that the Islamic State (IS) extremist group had deployed three assassins to kill Parwin, a female journalist working for one of Afghanistan’s leading broadcasters. Fearing for her life, the NDS ordered Parwin to remain at home and cease all communication. Parwin shares her experience as an Islamic State target with RFE/RL’s Gandhara project. (Gandhara)
Following a decision by the social media platform Facebook to block posts by some Russian media outlets about the detention of supporters of Ukrainian right-wing radicals in Voronezh, which repeated text from a press release issued by the FSB that was deemed to be fake, the Russian State Duma posted a statement by Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin to its website asserting that Russia’s parliament will “propose legislative solutions” to address the need to “protect digital sovereignty.” Volodin also said that the issue would be a priority topic for upcoming meetings with foreign colleagues. Also, Duma Wants To Introduce Fines For Media That Mention Terrorist Organisations Without Special Disclaimers. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian state media reports that the country’s National Guard will hold lectures for journalism students of Moscow State University on how to safely cover mass rallies. The lectures were announced by journalism faculty dean Elena Vartanova at a hearing of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy on March 10. Committee Chairman Alexander Khinshtein agreed with the proposal and suggested that similar training could be conducted at other universities as well. The Russian National Guard also offered to create lists of journalists who would cover protests and decide their location ahead of time, in order to regulate the number of reporters at rallies. (in Russian, Current Time TV/Russian Service)
One of the key topics at the forum “Culture and Media.Tourism” held in Kyiv between March 9-11, was how to overcome Russian propaganda while also preserving freedom of speech. As part of its fight against disinformation, Ukraine plans to adopt a new law on media and establish a center for battling disinformation, with the goal of becoming an international hub for counteracting misinformation and propaganda around the world. While addressing the forum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also called for the introduction of media literacy classes into school curriculums. (Ukrainian Service)
Stanislav Aseyev, the contributor to the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service project Donbas.Realities who was held for 2.5 years by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, won Ukraine’s Taras Shevchenko National Prize for his book “In Isolation.” READ excerpts (in English) from “In Isolation” here. (Ukrainian Service)
European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova has warned of "worrying developments" for media freedoms in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, as lawmakers in Brussels debated the matter at a plenary session. Addressing the European Parliament on March 10, Jourova cited last month's removal from the airwaves of Hungary's liberal-leaning radio station Klubradio, which had been critical of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Starshel, whose name means "The Hornet," is Bulgaria's oldest satirical publication. In its early days under communist rule, it poked fun at capitalism and American imperialism, but it also sometimes took on the country's own leadership. Now, having survived multiple eras to mark its 75th birthday, the weekly has editorial independence and recognition as a national treasure.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has accused Serbian state-affiliated media of waging a smear campaign against anti-corruption investigative reporter Stevan Dojcinovic. OCCRP said in a statement on March 10 that Dojcinovic, the editor in chief of Serbia’s Crime and Corruption Investigations Network (KRIK), has been subjected to a "mounting assault" by Serbian tabloid news outlets seeking to link him to a notorious Montenegro-based crime gang.
Despite being repeatedly threatened by Iran's security apparatus, harassed, sent to prison multiple times, and prevented from seeing her children, the authorities have failed to silence Narges Mohammadi. One of Iran's leading human rights defenders, Mohammadi has long campaigned against the death penalty and defended victims of state violence. While in prison, she has gone on several hunger strikes to protest the conditions there, attended a sit-in to condemn the security forces' killing of several hundred protesters in November 2019, and spoke out about human rights abuses in open letters and statements smuggled out of her cell.
Olga Karacheva and Svetlana Gromova, lawyers representing St. Petersburg-based Mediazona correspondent David Frenkel, whose collarbone was broken by a police officer at a polling station during the referendum for Russia’s Constitutional amendments, reported that they had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. On June 30, 2020, Frenkel visited the polling station to check for possible election violations. Police then detained Frenkel for “interfering with the voting process,” tackled him to the ground and, in the process, broke his arm. In late July, St. Petersburg’s Dzerzhinskiy district court fined Frenkel $33 after finding him guilty of refusing to follow a police officer's instruction, meddling in the work of a polling station, and violating coronavirus restrictions. (Russian Service/Sever.Realii)
RFE/RL’s Russian Service project Siberia.Realii correspondent Andrei Afanasyev demanded that the police officers who detained him during the rallies on January 23 and 31 in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in Blagoveshchensk, be brought to justice for preventing him from covering the protests. Afanasyev believes his detention was planned in advance by the leadership of local police; he filed two complaints to Russia’s Investigative Committee on February 16 and March 9. (Russian Service/Siberia Realii)