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Crackdown In Belarus; Tajikistan’s War On Journalists; Documenting The Gulag


BELARUS -- Police officers wearing protective face masks detain a protester during a rally in Minsk, June 19, 2020

Crackdown on Opposition Rallies Widens in Belarus
Authorities in Belarus are accusing Telegram users of organizing the country’s recent “illegal rallies” (see below). On June 20, police detained more than 100 people, including as many as 14 journalists, at opposition rallies in Minsk and elsewhere. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka declared his government had thwarted a "revolution" as it clamped down on opposition leaders, activists, and the media. Award-winning RFE/RL journalist Alexandra Dynko is shown in this video being arrested by police while she is reporting live on air. RFE/RL cameraman Andrey Rabchyk was also detained, and the country’s Information Minister threatened to strip RFE/RL’s Minsk bureau chief of his accreditation over the team’s coverage. RFE/RL condemned the "direct attacks on the independent press.”

INCIDENTS AND THREATS

Independent Belarus Blogger Detained
Police on June 25 raided the apartment of Ihar Losik, the founder of the popular Belarusian Telegram channel "RB Brain." Nine agents with a warrant from the prosecutor’s office searched the premises before detaining Losik. Belarus Minister of Internal Affairs Yuri Karaev told lawmakers the same day that “illegal street rallies” taking place in the country “are well organized, managed through Telegram channels.” Losik is a former Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow with RFE/RL.

Clooney Foundation To Monitor Russian Journalist Trial For 'Justifying Terrorism'
The Clooney Foundation for Justice, a human rights watchdog founded by Hollywood star George Clooney and his wife, Lebanese-British lawyer Amal Clooney, will be monitoring the high-profile trial of Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva, who is accused of "justifying terrorism." Prokopyeva and media advocates have rejected the charges as an effort to silence independent journalists.

Ekho Moskvy Radio Station Fined For Coronavirus Report
Ekho Moskvy radio chief Aleksei Venediktov has been fined approximately $2,878, and the outlet’s web editor Vitaly Ruvinsky was fined approximately $863, for publishing an interview with prominent academician Valery Solovei, who accused Russian authorities of misreporting Covid-19 mortality figures and compared the government’s manipulation of information with the Chernobyl disaster and 2012 floods in Krymsk. (Russian Service)

Why Declining Press Freedom In Bulgaria Should Worry Us All – The Calvert Journal’s Interview With RFE/RL’s Ivan Bedrov
Press freedom in Bulgaria has nosedived over the last 10 years. Is its decline a warning of challenges to come across Europe as a whole?

RSF Warns New Tajik Legislation Could Hamper Coronavirus Coverage
Reporters Without Borders has called for the withdrawal of newly approved legislative amendments in Tajikistan which could lead to heavy fines for false or inaccurate COVID-19 coverage, or censorship and other violations of press freedom. Eurasianet reports that Tajikistan is intensifying and broadening its war on journalists.

Kazakh Activist Convicted Of Criticizing Government's Coronavirus Response
Alnur Ilyashev, an activist who criticized Kazakhstan’s ruling party on social media, has been convicted of spreading “false information” about the coronavirus and banned from social or political activism for five years, even as the government itself warns of a worsening outbreak.

Kyrgyzstan Lawmakers Exonerate Country Of Links To Massive Smuggling Scheme Detailed In Investigative Report
Kyrgyz lawmakers have approved the findings of a parliamentary commission that concluded Kyrgyzstan was not involved in hundreds of millions of dollars of alleged money laundering. The scheme was uncovered in a bombshell joint journalistic investigation by RFE/RL and OCCRP and its media partner Kloop. The lead reporter in the investigation, Ali Toktakunov of RFE/RL’s Radio Azattyk, has received death threats in connection with the publication.

Two Pakistani Journalists Allegedly Tortured By Paramilitary Force For Coronavirus Coverage
Media rights groups are calling for accountability after two Pakistani journalists accused paramilitary forces of torturing them for their reporting on poor conditions at a coronavirus quarantine center on the Afghan border. Saeed Ali Achakzai, a reporter for the Urdu-language Samaa News TV, and Abdul Mateen Achakzai, a reporter for the Pashtun-language Khyber News TV, said they were beaten while under detention for three days in Pakistan's Balochistan province. Photos released on June 23 by the men, who are not related, show red marks on their backs.

MAJLIS PODCAST: Central Asia Eases Lockdowns And Coronavirus Cases Rise

PRESSROOM: Current Time And Coda Story Partner To Document Gulag History

PRESSROOM: New USAGM Chief Dismisses RFE/RL President Jamie Fly

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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