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Journalists in Trouble Newsletter


RUSSIA -- RFE/RL Moscow bureau, January 27, 2021

RFE/RL’s Moscow Bureau Files Urgent Suit Against Russia At European Court of Human Rights

The Moscow bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL LLC) has petitioned the European Court of Human Rights on an urgent basis, asking the court to grant interim measures ordering the Russian Federation to refrain from enforcing the 520 “administrative protocols” that it has brought or threatened against the media organization since January 2021. These interim measures, if granted, would be in place until the court can rule on the lawfulness of the Russian Government’s unprecedented actions.

INCIDENTS AND THREATS

U.S. Denounces Crackdown On 'Independent Voices' In Crimea After RFE/RL Freelancer Targeted

The U.S. State Department has called for the release of an RFE/RL freelance correspondent arrested in Ukraine's Russia-annexed Crimea region and joined human rights groups in expressing concern over his treatment and a televised "confession" he gave. “Troubled by reports that Russian occupation authorities in Crimea tortured @RFERL freelance journalist [Vladyslav] Yesypenko to coerce his confession. We call for his release, and for Russia to cease its reprisals against independent voices in Crimea,” spokesman Ned Price tweeted on April 13. Yesypenko's lawyer on April 6 said his client testified during a closed-door court hearing that he was tortured with electric shocks, beaten, and threatened with death unless he "confessed" to spying on behalf of Ukraine. Also, European Federation Of Journalists Called For Yesypenko Release.

Court Restricts Moscow Student Magazine Editors To One Minute Outside Per Day

A Moscow court has placed in de facto house arrest four editors of the student magazine Doxa who have been accused of "engaging minors in actions that might be dangerous" over a video related to unsanctioned rallies to protest the jailing of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The Basmanny district court late on April 14 ordered Armen Aramyan, Vladimir Metyolkin, Natalya Tyshkevich, and Alla Gutnikova not to leave their homes between midnight and 11.59 p.m. for two months, giving them only one minute to be outside each day. The four were detained for questioning at the Investigative Committee after their homes and the magazine's offices were searched over the video, which the magazine posted online in January. Also, Two Moscow Student Magazine Editors Appeal De Facto House Arrests.

In Latest Salvo Against Media, Belarus Takes Euronews Off The Air

Belarusian authorities have stopped the European news network Euronews from broadcasting inside the country amid a campaign to muzzle independent media and journalists as part of the government's crackdown on dissent following a disputed presidential election that returned strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka to power. The Information Ministry said in a statement on April 12 that Russia's Pobeda (Victory) channel focusing on World War II had commenced broadcasting in Euronews's place.

Russia’s Rosneft Demands $6.5 Million For Publication About Alleged Resort For Putin

Russian state oil company Rosneft, run by Igor Sechin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has filed a lawsuit to protect its business reputation against the Sobesednik newspaper and journalist Oleg Roldugin, demanding compensation of approximately $6.5 million. The suit involves a March 2021 article about an alleged “personal ski resort” for Putin in the North Caucasus region of Adygea. The supposedly Rosneft-owned Lunnaya Polyana complex, which according to Sobesednik is actually on the balance sheet of the Russian Presidential Administration, is used by Putin for vacations. (Russian Service)

Russian Investigative Journalist Says Raids, Interrogation Intended To Find 'Something Else'

Prominent investigative journalist Roman Anin believes that the newfound attention paid by Russian authorities to him and his media organization differs from the official line, and that recent raids on his home and office -- and his subsequent interrogation -- were in response to recent critical coverage of high-profile business and security figures. Speaking to RFE/RL's Russian Service on April 13, a day after his visit to the Investigative Committee for questioning relating to a story he wrote five years ago, the editor in chief of Important Stories (Istories) gave his assessment of what he sees as part of the "sad process in Russia of pressure on independent journalism." “Shut up or leave” -- RFE/RL’s Russian Service compiles reactions of Russians on social media to Anin’s searches and questioning.

Russian Media Is Spreading Fake Stories About A Boy Killed In War-Torn Eastern Ukraine

Current Time TV’s Footage Vs. Footage spoke to Artem Laptiev, an analyst of the StopFake project, who revealed that the story about the alleged recent killing of young boy by Ukrainian military was fake and based entirely on the words of officials of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. The true story is that the incident was a tragic accident -- the boy found a live grenade in his father’s garage and died when the grenade exploded. In the meantime, Russian state media claimed that a Ukrainian military drone was allegedly to blame for killing the boy. (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Belarus Lawmakers Approve Amendments That Severely Restrict Civil Rights, Media

Belarusian lawmakers have approved several amendments to legislation that severely restricts civil rights and the free flow of information amid a crackdown on protests challenging the official results of a presidential election that handed authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka his sixth consecutive term. The texts of the controversial amendments to the laws on extremism and mass media were approved in the first reading on April 2 and placed on the official website for legal documents on April 9, marking the first time much of the information has been made public.

TUT.BY Editor-In-Chief Talks About Working In Belarus Despite Arrest And Withdrawn Status Of A Media

Current Time TV spoke to Marina Zolotova, the editor-in-chief of one of Belarus’ most popular websites TUT.BY. Zolotova says that in the current operation environment “complaints can arise at any time: it is important to ward off the threat from the journalist.” In December, TUT.BY was stripped of its status as a media outlet, and one of its journalists Katsyaryna Barysevich was sentenced in March to six months in prison for reporting on the lack alcohol in the blood of deceased Minsk resident Raman Bandarenka, who authorities claim was drunk when he was allegedly killed by law enforcement. Zolotova also noted that, despite all the difficulties, TUT.BY’s audience nearly doubled over the last year. (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Watchdog Calls On Russia To End Information 'Black Hole' In Nagorno-Karabakh

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Russia to stop denying entry to foreign reporters into the disputed South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and is urging the United Nations and Council of Europe to ensure respect for the right to the freedom to inform. Russian peacekeepers controlling access to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia via the Lachin Corridor have denied entry to at least 10 foreign journalists since February, the Paris-based media freedom watchdog said in a statement on April 9.

Pakistani Journalist Shot Dead By Unknown Gunmen

Pakistani police say a journalist has been shot dead by unknown gunmen in the country's restive northwest. Police said Waseem Alam's body was found late on April 10 in the Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Alam was a journalist and editor at the local newspaper, Sada-e Lawaghir. Police said Alam was returning home on his motorcycle when he was shot. He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. (Gandhara)

Attack Leaves Serbian Radio Journalist In Hospital

A Serbian broadcast journalist is in the hospital after being beaten by unidentified assailants in the northern city of Novi Sad, the latest in a string of attacks against media workers in the Balkan country. Dasko Milinovic said in a tweet that he was tear-gassed and beaten with metal bars early on April 16 by two hooded men who then fled the scene. The attack was condemned by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, who called it a "terrible and inadmissible" occurrence and vowed that the attackers will be "severely punished."

Kyrgyzstan Urged To Probe Harassment Of Journalists Covering Referendum Vote

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on Kyrgyz authorities to investigate the harassment of journalists working for independent outlets while they were covering the country’s nationwide constitutional referendum on April 11. Police detained at least four journalists covering voting in the southern city of Osh and in the capital, Bishkek, while election onlookers attacked at least one reporter in Osh, the New York-based media freedom watchdog said in a statement on April 13.

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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