Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has notified RFE/RL that it has filed in court the first of a new set of 130 protocols charging that the independent media outlet is violating Russia's controversial "foreign agent" law requiring the labeling of content.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
Current Time TV freelance correspondent in Kabul, Liza Karimi, reports having been threatened on August 17 by unknown males by both phone and in writing. These communications followed statements by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid that women would be allowed to work and a free media to function within the bounds of Islamic law. According to Karimi, the individuals said “We just wish that the Taliban will capture you quickly.” Karimi added, “And why, for what [reason], this they didn’t want to tell me.” Karimi, a Russian- and English-speaking Kabul native, believes that the individuals who contacted her may have been sympathizers with the Taliban.
Suspected Taliban gunmen shot and killed an Afghan radio station manager in Kabul and kidnapped a journalist in southern Helmand Province, officials said, the latest in a long line of attacks targeting media workers. Gunmen shot Paktia Ghag radio managerToofan Omar, who also served as an officer with the NAI support group for independent media, in a targeted assassination on August 8. "Omar was killed by unidentified gunmen...he was a liberal man...we are being targeted for working independently," said Mujeeb Khelwatgar, the head of NAI. (Gandhara)
The wife of jailed RFE/RL Crimea Realii contributor Vladyslav Yesypenko, Kateryna, has told RFE/RL that her husband’s condition behind bars has gotten worse and about a week ago he was urgently hospitalized. Kateryna linked his deteriorating health to the possible torture by the FSB. Yesypenko is currently being held by the FSB in pre-trial detention; he was detained on March 10. (Ukrainian Service/Krym.Realii)
Recent weeks have seen a spate of police raids on independent media companies and the homes of journalists in Russia, as part of an intensifying crackdown. Kremlin-critical media face fines, arrests, and violence. Some journalists are relocating to other countries to avoid an increasingly hostile environment.
Police in Minsk have searched the homes of several employees of the private BelaPAN news agency, as a crackdown on independent media and pro-democracy activists in Belarus continues following last year's disputed presidential election that handed victory to authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Alyaksandr Zaytsau told the Naviny.by news website that police told him that searches were conducted on August 18 as part of an investigation into the "organization of activities that blatantly violate civil order." Also: Belarus slaps “extremist” label on news site Tut.by and its new media site, Zerkalo.io.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Belarus to immediately release journalist Syarhey Hardzievich, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of insulting authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka and two police officers. Hardzievich’s jailing “once again demonstrates Belarus authorities’ abuse of the law to silence independent journalists who cover law enforcement abuses,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna in a statement issued on August 12.
Russia has refused to renew a visa for a BBC journalist in Moscow, effectively expelling her from the country. The BBC on August 13 called the move against Sarah Rainsford "a direct assault on media freedom," while the British government urged Moscow "to reconsider this retrograde step against an award-winning BBC journalist which can only do further damage to media freedom in Russia." The move comes as the authorities crack down on the opposition and independent media before parliamentary elections in September.
Despite a brutal, year-long crackdown on dissent, heavy-handed repression by Belarusian police and security services, and efforts to criminalize journalism and the free flow of information, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, Radio Svaboda and the Belarus correspondents reporting for RFE/RL’s Current Time team – among the last remaining independent media outlets in the country – remain committed to providing a fact-based alternative to state-run media and pro-government messaging.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov to reject a “false information” bill recently approved by lawmakers, saying that the proposed legislation "imperils” press freedom in the Central Asian nation. Kyrgyz authorities “should refrain from adding expansive but poorly defined new powers to unspecified state bodies that could easily be weaponized against journalists,” CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said in the statement on August 10.
In July, an intriguing movie trailer began rapidly gathering views on YouTube. The one-minute clip is a preview of Solntsepyok, which roughly translates as Sunbaked, a Russian film that depicts life in Luhansk, a city in eastern Ukraine, in the summer of 2014. It gives little away. But an attached description of the film makes clear what the trailer doesn't: that something calamitous will happen to the characters on-screen. According to unnamed sources quoted by the independent news media Meduza, the movie’s powerful alleged patron is Yevgeny Prigozhin, the businessman known as "Putin's chef" for his catering business and close ties to the Kremlin.
RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Elena Fanailova talks about Russia’s “foreign agent” law and what it means for her personally, symbolically, and in reality.
RFE/RL President Jamie Fly addressed the importance of press freedom and journalist safety during recent visits to Georgia and Armenia, two countries where journalists have been violently attacked in recent months. During his visits, Fly met with senior government officials including Prime Ministers Irakli Garibashvili and Nikol Pashinian, met with local journalists and media advocacy groups, and sat for interviews with prominent media outlets in both countries.