INCIDENTS AND THREATS
On October 14, Russian media outlets joined forces in support of jailed former “Kommersant” and “Vedomosti” journalist Ivan Safronov, an advisor to Russian space agency Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, who marked 100 days in a pre-trial detention center. Numerous media outlets posted on their websites a banner with Safronov's photo and the inscription “from articles to an article [of a criminal code].” Safronov was arrested on July 7 amid allegations that he had passed secret information to the Czech Republic in 2017 about Russian arms sales in the Middle East. (Russian Service)
According to a new Freedom House report, Internet freedom has declined for the 10th consecutive year as governments around the world are using the coronavirus pandemic as a "cover" to expand online surveillance, crack down on dissent, and build new technological systems to control society. Authorities continued to arrest and prosecute online journalists, activists, and citizens for content posted online, block access to independent news sites and a number of social media and communication platforms, and disrupt Internet access during politically sensitive events, "aided by their continued control over the internet infrastructure."
Armenian fixer and travel writer Aram Vardanyan recounts working inside the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh during intense aerial bombardments that have marked the most serious flare-up in fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in more than a quarter of a century. Journalist Seymur Kazimov gives an Azerbaijani perspective on working near the front lines in the worst violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in more than a quarter of a century.
Azerbaijan’s General Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case against the author of the WarGonzo project, Russian journalist Semyon Pegov. The investigative department alleges that it has analyzed “videos with open calls to violate the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.” (Russian Service/Ekho Kavkaza)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Kyrgyz authorities and opposition groups to guarantee a safe environment for journalists covering the post-election unrest in Kyrgyzstan after several were attacked or obstructed. The Paris-based media freedom watchdog said in a statement on October 9 it had registered at least seven incidents over the previous days in which reporters were targeted by members of the security forces and protesters, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalists.
Kazakh state media characterize the post-election protests in Kyrgyzstan as “chaos,” describe protesters as “hooligans” and call them a “crowd.” Political analysts cited as experts by the media say that this situation will “throw the country back” and call on Kazakhstan “to learn a lesson from what is happening.” While on air, TV channels contrast Kyrgyzstan with Kazakhstan and praise Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev. (Kazakh Service)
More than 30 journalists were detained across Belarus have been detained across Belarus over the weekend on October 10-11, while covering protests against longtime leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Although the detained were mostly Belarusian journalists, four reporters with the Russian state-run news agency TASS were also among the detainees; all four were later released, but two of the reporters were subsequently detained again. A photo correspondent for Sputnik news agency was also detained. All TASS correspondents working in Minsk carry new accreditations from Belarus’ Foreign Ministry, which on October 2 canceled the accreditations of all journalists working for foreign news media. (Russian Service)
RFE/RL Belarus Service journalist Ales Piletski was interrogated at the Zavodski District Interior Ministry Department in Minsk on October 12, based on an administrative case initiated against him for participation in an unauthorized event. The charge revolves around Piletski’s reporting as an accredited journalist on a women's march in Minsk on September 5. (Belarus Service)
Ahead of the World Day against the Death Penalty on October 10, Iranian and international human rights and media freedom groups denounced the use of capital punishment in Iran -- the world's second most prolific executioner after China. In a statement on October 9, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Iran’s Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) also urged the Iranian authorities to end executions, which they said “often target prisoners of conscience, including journalists.”
Police in the western Russian city of Pskov on October 8 closed an administrative case against an advisor to the speaker of the Pskov regional assembly Vladimir Borachuk, who physically removed 7x7 website journalist Ivan Zhuravkov from a March 12 extraordinary meeting of the regional assembly discussing the amendments to the Russian Constitution. Borachuk grabbed Zhuravkov by the elbow while kicking him out of the meeting. Police did not find any signs of violent actions and dismissed Borachuk’s case. (Russian Service/Sever Realii)
Relatives and colleagues of Abdulmumin Hajiyev, a journalist with Daghestan’s Chernovik newspaper who is accused of financing terrorism held another series of one-person protests in the center of the Daghestani capital, Makhachkala. The protesters believe that the case against the journalist has been falsified and demand that the criminal prosecution be stopped. The Memorial Human Rights Center has declared Hajiyev a political prisoner, and the human rights organization Amnesty International has recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. (Russian Service/Kavkaz Realii)