Ivan Safronov, a prominent former Russian journalist accused of high treason in a case widely considered to be politically motivated, has been placed in solitary confinement for allegedly violating a detention center's internal regulations. A member of the Public Monitoring Commission in Moscow, Boris Klin, said on November 3 that Safronov was placed in the punitive isolation cell for three days for attaching a TV antenna to his cell's wall to improve reception, which is not allowed. As part of the punishment, Safronov was also forced to wear a special prison robe while in solitary confinement. Safronov has complained that he is not allowed to have a sleeping mask to cover his eyes; the lights are never turned off in punitive isolation cells, which some rights activists say is a form of torture. Meanwhile, additional charges have been filed against Safronov.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
A top official in Hungary's governing party has confirmed for the first time that the government bought spyware that was allegedly used to monitor journalists, lawyers, businesspeople, and opposition figures in dozens of countries around the world. Lajos Kosa, the chairman of the parliament's Committee on Defense and Law Enforcement, told journalists on November 4 following a closed committee session that the Interior Ministry had bought Pegasus software produced by Israel’s NSO Group.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is expressing concern over reports that an Iranian Internet bill seen as part of a campaign to create a closed national web is moving ahead in parliament. "Instead of further controlling what journalists and citizens can do online, Iranian lawmakers should be finding ways to promote the free flow of information," CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement on November 1. "All of society suffers when barriers to open Internet access prevent journalists from doing their jobs," he added.
Three Uzbek journalists and a private businesswoman have been convicted and sentenced on charges of libel and disobeying authorities, according to a statement by Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court on November 3. A lower court in the southern region of Qashqadaryo sentenced Elyorbek Tojiboev, a correspondent with the Effect.uz website, to three years in a colony settlement. Two other Effect.uz journalists, Akbar Nurimbetov and Hamidjon Ahmedov, were handed parole-like sentences of three and 2 1/2 years, respectively, while a fourth defendant in the case, businesswoman Guzal Khudoyorova, was sentenced to two years of restricted freedom. In the tightly controlled former Soviet republic, decisions by regional courts are very often made public by the Supreme Court.
A Dutch newspaper says Russian authorities expelled its correspondent who has lived in the country since 2015 -- the second such decision against a Western journalist in months. De Volkskrant daily said in its report on November 3 that correspondent Tom Vennink's residence permit in Russia had been canceled two days earlier due to what authorities called "two administrative violations." According to the newspaper, Vennink was informed that he was barred from entering Russia until January 2025 and ordered to leave the country in three days.
A Belarusian court has sentenced a journalist and her husband to 15 days in jail for sharing "extremist" content on Facebook. Iryna Slavnikava, who works for Belsat TV, was sentenced along with husband Alyaksandr Loyko by a Minsk court on November 1, the Vyasna human rights center reported. Slavnikava, who is also the deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and her husband were detained on October 29 as they were returning from Egypt. Polish-funded Belsat was declared "extremist" by the Belarusian authorities in July and had its website and all social-media accounts blocked. ALSO: 35 OSCE Countries Demand Answers From Belarus On 'Serious' Rights Violations.
The authorities in Belarus have blocked access to the website of the pro-Kremlin Russian news agency Regnum. The October 30 move was the first time Minsk has blocked access to a Russia-based media site, although it earlier blocked the Belarus-based version of the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. The government of longtime leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not issue a statement explaining the decision to block Regnum. The website, however, has published numerous articles criticizing Belarus for supposedly “anti-Russian” policies and urging the rapid unification of the two countries.
An international media-rights watchdog is calling for an independent investigation into the killing of an amateur video reporter who drew attention to hunting trips for Arab dignitaries from the Persian Gulf. The body of Nazim Sajawal Jokhiyo was found near the northwestern Pakistani city of Karachi on November 3, hours after he said in a video posted online that he was being threatened over a previous video he shot that showed poachers organizing a hunting party for "foreign guests."
Unidentified persons have destroyed a telecommunications tower in a restive northwestern tribal district of Pakistan, soon after it started providing Internet service, officials say. Police told RFE/RL on November 5 that the tower in North Waziristan district was destroyed by explosives.
Facebook owner Meta Platforms has denied a claim by Kazakhstan that it had been granted exclusive access to the social-media giant's content reporting system. The Kazakh government released on November 1 what it called a "joint statement" with Facebook that said an exclusive agreement was reached on access to the data that would "help the government to report content that may violate Facebook's global content policy and local laws of Kazakhstan." The government said the agreement, which would be the first of its kind in Central Asia, would allow authorities to more easily remove content it deems illegal and "harmful."
Uzbek authorities have restricted access to most social media and instant messaging platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Moi Mir, Odnoklassniki, Telegram, and YouTube, for violating the Central Asian country’s personal data legislation, a move felt almost immediately by users. However, presidential spokesman Sherzod Asadov told local media on November 3 that access to all the sites would be restored soon and that the head of Uzbekistan’s communications regulator, O'zkomnazorat, Golibsher Ziyaev, had been dismissed for acting wrongly without any authorization.
Uzbek authorities have arranged a personal exhibition in Tashkent of paintings by former RFE/RL journalist Shukhrat Babadjanov, who visited Uzbekistan for the first time since his exile twenty years ago to attend the exhibition. The exhibition is seen by some analysts as a PR charm offensive by the Uzbek security services to benefit Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev. Babadjanov told local journalists that times have changed and his exhibition is a sign of the President's political will. (Uzbek Service)
Russian television presenter Igor Kirillov, long the chief news anchor state television during the Soviet era, has died aged 89. For decades, Kirillov was the presenter who informed U.S.S.R. audiences of major news events, including the launch of the Sputnik satellite, communiques issued by the Communist Party, military parades on Moscow's Red Square, and the burials of Soviet leaders at the Kremlin wall. The news of his death was reported by Channel One and other Russian media outlets, as well as the BBC.