Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says a list of rules that the Taliban-led government is requiring Afghan journalists to follow opens the way to “censorship and persecution,” adding to growing international concerns about press freedoms in Afghanistan. RSF warned in a report that the 11 rules to which journalists must comply are, in reality, “extremely dangerous” because they are vaguely worded and liable to be used to persecute journalists. Also, more than 100 Afghan journalists have appealed to the international community for help in protecting press freedom in Afghanistan.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
Journalists across Pakistan are expressing outrage over a proposed set of regulations they warn will further curtail press freedom and dramatically bolster the powers of a government that is already seen as imposing censorship to control the media and free speech. The government-proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) would combine the functions of several federal and provincial agencies currently regulating the print, electronic, and digital media. Journalists, however, maintain there are ulterior motives behind the proposal, first floated in May with the purported aim of streamlining media regulations.
On September 21, a court in Simferopol in Russia-occupied Crimea held another hearing in the case of jailed Ukrainian Service project Crimea.Realii contributor Vladyslav Yesypenko. Several people gathered at the court building in support of Yesypenko and to protest the sham trial. Speaking to RFERL’s Ukrainian Service, Yesypenko’s lawyer, Dmytro Dinze, pointed out errors in the prosecution’s case, and said that FSB officers in Crimea are absolutely not afraid of the law and any responsibility that “they prepare criminal cases and forensic materials for the crime, which they believe was committed by a person. As for Yesypenko, all the documents were drafted as if they knew at once which article of the Criminal Code he would be charged with and what he would be accused of.” (Ukrainian Service)
The head of the international human rights group "Agora" Pavel Chikov reported that Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow affirmed the decision of the Ministry of Justice to include RFE/RL Russian Service journalist Elizaveta Maetnaya and Open Media journalist Ilya Rozhdestvensky in the register of "foreign agents," despite lack of grounds to do so. Both Maetnaya and Rozhdestvensky have been added to the “foreign agents” list back in July 2021. So far 18 media outlets, 25 journalists and four legal entities have been added to the “foreign agents” list. (Russian Service)
Human rights watchdog Freedom House says global Internet freedom has declined dramatically in Belarus, where last year’s disputed presidential election led the authorities to repeatedly restrict access to the Internet, increase social media surveillance, and detain and use "deadly force” against online activists. According to the report Freedom on the Net 2021, published by Washington-based Freedom House on September 21, the "repressive campaign" by authorities against Internet liberty continued into this year, leading to a seven-point decline in the country's Internet freedom -- a drop surpassed only by Burma. Similarly, the report designated Uzbekistan as an authoritarian country with no internet freedom, where the media is tightly controlled by the authorities and reports of torture and ill-treatment by security forces persist.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Belarus Service’ Hannah Sous Belarusian journalist Kacia Karpickaja talked about her month in prison, where she experienced torture and inhumane conditions. She describes terrible conditions inside the detention center, lack of fresh air and medical attention. Karpickaja’s father and brother still support Lukashenka and believe her arrest and time spent in the detention center is all her fault. (Belarus Service)
RFE/RL Belarus Service reports that new charges have been announced against Dzyanis Ivashin, an investigative journalist from Hrodna who has been jailed for the past six months, after speaking to Current Time TV about his reporting on former Ukrainian Berkut members who got jobs with Belarus’ riot police and about Russian influence in Belarus. Dzyanis’ wife, Volha Ivashina, received a document from the head of the KGB investigation department which announced "less serious" and "especially serious crime" charges. The “less serious” charge may be "interference in the activities of a police officer," for which Ivashin was detained, however, Ivashin’s relatives do not know what the second charge is. (Belarus Service)
Igor Khoroshilov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Golos” in Russia’s Rostov, has been re-arrested for 10 days for publishing the logo of Navalny’s Smart Voting election-guide app. Khoroshilov was detained by officers of the regional department of the Center for Countering Extremism, as soon as the journalist left the detention center, where he was serving his sentence on the same charges - for publishing the logo of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny's project "Smart Voting" on social media. Khoroshilov was again found guilty of publicly displaying the symbols of extremist organizations, as Navalny’s organization was declared extremist in Russia. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Police in Kazakhstan's southern Zhambyl region say they have closed the case without charges against two journalists who were part of a probe into what they called the "distribution of false information" over deadly munitions explosions last month that led to the resignation of Defense Minister Nurlan Ermekbaev. Regional police spokesman Begman Kutmurzayev told RFE/RL on September 23 that the case against Islambek Dastan of Turaninfo.kz and Daniyar Alimkul was closed because police failed to find any criminal elements in their probe of the reporting on the explosions by the two reporters.
The video appears to show a major police operation to expose a troll farm churning out fake reports of violations in Russia's three-day legislative elections. Within hours, state TV channels were airing the clip, claiming the troll-farm employees had confessed their guilt. "This all looks pitiful," quipped presenter Olga Skabeyeva on the talk show 60 Minutes. "As if the White House or State Department are running out of money to support 'democracy,' as they like to call it." The problem is that the clip may have been exactly what Andreyev denied it was: a fabrication. On September 19, the BBC's Russian service reported that two of the people featured in the video were actors paid to take part in a staged performance. Also, Russian Social Media Swamped With Video Evidence Of Ballot-Box Stuffing.
When Apple and Google removed an election app created by jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny from their online stores just as the country's three-day parliamentary vote got under way, his associates were dismayed -- and criticized the U.S. tech giants for giving in to the Kremlin's demands. There was not much Navalny's allies could do about it, however. And the developments showed that in the battle between the trillion-dollar tech companies and the authoritarian leaders of major economies -- especially those willing to resort to extra-legal means -- the latter may have a stronger position, analysts say.