Tajik Media Advocates Urge Accreditation Of RFE/RL Journalists
Two leading Tajik media advocacy groups, the National Media Council and the National Association of Independent Media, have issued a joint statement urging authorities to refrain from using accreditation to restrict freedom of speech. The statement comes ahead of a November 1 deadline, when 18 journalists with RFE/RL’s Tajik Service risk being denied credentials, or renewals of their credentials, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The letter cites Tajikistan’s own regulation on media accreditation, which states that "Foreign correspondents have the right for the free transfer of their materials, radio, video and television information, excluding any censorship of them,” while noting that the current law is outdated and fails to accord with Tajikistan’s international commitments. Harlem Dezir, the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media, raised the accreditation issue in an October 23 tweet, calling on Tajik authorities to resolve it without delay. The U.S. Congressional Press Freedom Caucus issued a letter to Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on October 9 expressing concern that accreditation was being used to censor independent media, and urging that RFE/RL journalists be accredited expeditiously.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
Ukraine Court Grants Broad Access To RFE/RL Schemes Journalists’ Data, Eliciting Protest
Schemes (Skhemy), the investigative unit of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, together with Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:Pershy television, has protested an October 17 Pechersk district court ruling granting the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) wide-ranging access to the group's internal communications and documents. Schemes said the ruling empowers the DBR to “unjustifiably interfere” in its work. RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said, “Any attempt by authorities to compromise journalists’ communications and records is deeply disturbing.”
RFE/RL Condemns Verdict Against RFE/RL Contributor Aseyev
A court in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has convicted RFE/RL Ukrainian contributor Stanislav Aseyev on extremism and terrorism-related charges, in a case that has become emblematic of the Russia-backed separatist conflict in Ukraine’s eastern region.
Russian Duma Accuses RFE/RL, Foreign Media Of Breaking Election Law
A Russian parliamentary committee on October 17 accused six foreign-registered and funded media outlets of violating the country's election law by calling on Russians to participate in the summer-long protests leading up to last month's local and regional elections. MBK Media, Meduza, RFE/RL's Russian Service, Voice of America, Current Time TV, and BBC News Russian are the accused media outlets.
Bulgarian National Radio Chief Sacked In Free Speech Row
Bulgaria's broadcast regulator sacked the chief of Bulgarian National Radio for taking the channel off the air for several hours last month in a spat with a presenter known for covering the country’s corruption-prone judicial system. The Council for Electronic Media ruled on October 17to oust Svetoslav Kostov as BNR general director, saying that the suspension represented a “grave violation” of Bulgarians' right to information.
Protesters In Belgrade Call For End To Threats, Violence Against Journalists
Dozens of journalists and media-freedom activists assembled outside Serbian government headquarters on October 16 to demand an end to intimidation, threats, and violence against journalists. They were protesting the latest incident on October 14 when two masked men threw hundreds of threatening leaflets across the fence into the backyard of the building that houses the privately owned N1TV channel in Belgrade.
Uzbek Poet Gets Suspended Prison Term For Importing 'Banned' Books
A court in Uzbekistan’s western Khorezm region has handed a 27-month suspended prison sentence to poet and blogger Mahmud Rajab for “smuggling” and “organizing mass disorder.” Rajab was found guilty on October 18 of smuggling after border guards confiscated several books from him upon his arrival from Turkey in April. Investigators said the books were banned in Uzbekistan.
Pakistan Expels CPJ Asia Coordinator
Pakistan denied entry on October 18 to Steven Butler, Asia coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the media watchdog has reported. Butler was refused entry at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore despite having a valid visa. He said he was told he was on "a stop list of the Interior Ministry."
CURRENT TIME TV: The last episode in Russian journalist Andrey Loshak’s eight-part documentary series about the rise and fall of the Russian internet, InterNYET, took a close look at the Russian segment of YouTube, the country’s most-visited social media platform. Right after it aired, Russia's top YouTube blogger, Yury Dud, posted a tribute to Loshak on his Instagram page and urged viewers to watch the "amazing" series. The independent news site Meduza also highlighted the series. Since its debut in early September, it has attracted more than 2 million views.
RUSSIA: A report on Russia from RFE/RL’s Central Newsroom about a rural tuberculosis clinic that is being closed by the government provided a stark example of the crisis that medical professionals say is ravaging Russia's health-care system and accelerating the decline of its villages. Human Rights Watch called it "must-read reportage," while Washington Post Moscow correspondent Amie Ferris-Rotman tweeted: "While building clout abroad, Russia is neglecting its own people. Heartbreaking."
BELARUS: A Current Time TV video explored the murky circumstances behind the disappearances 20 years ago of former Belarusian Interior Minister Yury Zakharenka, former Central Election Commission Chairman Viktor Gonchar, and opposition financier Anatol Krasouski – three outspoken critics of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s attempts to eradicate dissent in the 1990s. The video, making extensive use of archival footage, has been viewed more than 800,000 times across social networks.
AFGHANISTAN: The Afghan Service reported on the plight of the Jogi, a minority ethnic group that lacks constitutional protections and citizenship rights. An interview with Mehman Gul, an ethnic Jogi teenage girl who is prevented from going to school for lack of an ID card because, she says, “I am a Jogi." The report has been viewed on the Service’s Dari and Pashto Facebook pages 400,000 times.
Incidents By Numbers
REPORTING 1989: RFE/RL’s Role In Eastern Europe’s Revolutions