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Threats Against ‘Schemes’; Piecemeal Accreditation In Tajikistan; Connecting Women In Afghanistan


UKRAINE – Mykhaylo Tkach, with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian investigative unit Skhemy (Schemes), speaking at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

RFE/RL Journalist Challenges Ukrainian Lawmakers To Ensure Free Press Amid Threats
Mykhaylo Tkach, a journalist with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian investigative unit Skhemy (Schemes), has challenged lawmakers and President Zelenskiy's government "to do their job" and ensure a free press. Tkach’s remarks on November 6 to a session of the parliamentary committee on freedom of expression came amid a campaign by a former high-level Ukrainian official against Schemes staff.

INCIDENTS AND THREATS

Ukraine Launches Probe Of Ex-Lawmaker Who Threatened, Released Data On RFE/RL Staff
Ukrainian police launched a probe on November 7 against Andriy Portnov, a former lawmaker and deputy head of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych's administration, who has disclosed personal data on his Telegram channel about members of RFE/RL’s investigative “Schemes” reporting team, and suggested they could be exposed to physical harm. He is accused of obstructing the professional activities of RFE/RL journalists.

Tajik Authorities Continue to Pressure RFE/RL Dushanbe Bureau
In a letter to Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister on October 31, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly criticized the ministry’s decision to deny credentials to members of its Tajik Service and grant only partial accreditation to others, obstructing the organization’s journalistic mission. The OSCE, members of the U.S. Senate and Congress, the Washington Post, and Tajik media advocacy groups have criticized the withholding of accreditation as a violation of media freedom and a means of censorship.

Masked 'Umbrella Men' Strike RFE/RL Kazakh Journalists Again
Two masked men with umbrellas stepped between a pensioner and an RFE/RL cameraman on October 26 in an effort to prevent the man from speaking to the media. It is the latest in a series of confrontations that appear to be coordinated by authorities to block coverage of protests in Kazakhstan, particularly those called by Mukhtar Ablyazov’s Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan. (video)

Exiled Russian Journalist Babchenko Leaves Ukraine Indefinitely
Arkady Babchenko, a dissident Russian journalist who once facetiously promised to return to his homeland in a U.S.-made Abrams tank, has left Ukraine, where he has lived in self-imposed exile since fall 2017. In a Facebook post on November 3, Babchenko gave a vague reason for his departure that implied growing anxiety over his safety after the election of Volodymyr Zelenskiy as president in April.

Media Watchdog Condemns Threats Against Bosnian Journalist
The Committee to Protect Journalists on October 29 called on authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to investigate threats made against journalist Avdo Avdic, who has written about cases of alleged money laundering and international drug cartels.

President's Daughter's Birthday Is Top News In Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan's state-run news agency made the birthday of President Shavkat Mirziyoev's daughter its leading news story all day on November 4. The National Information Agency of Uzbekistan published an official biography starting with the second paragraph of the story, which remained the top news piece all day on the Russian-language version of the agency's website.

Kazakhstan, Sudan, Brazil Top List of Deteriorating Internet Freedoms
Kazakhstan, Sudan, Brazil, and other countries saw the worst deterioration in Internet freedoms over the past year, according to a new Freedom House report that also documented how governments increasingly use social media to monitor citizens and manipulate elections.

Impunity In Journalists' Murders 'Firmly Entrenched' In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia
In its 2019 Global Impunity Index, the Committee to Protect Journalists says "impunity" in the cases of murdered journalists remains "firmly entrenched" in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, and 10 other countries across the world.

MAJLIS PODCAST: Pressure On Tajikistan Press Grows As Crucial Ruling Looms
The accreditation crisis facing RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, one of the last independent news sources inside Tajikistan, is the latest example of the country’s deteriorating record on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Steve Swerdlow of Human Rights Watch and Elena Cherniavska of the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media join RFE/RL’s Salimjon Aioubov, Bruce Pannier, and Muhammad Tahir to discuss.

RFE/RL IMPACT

TURKMENISTAN: RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service profiled Kasymberdi Garayev in the first known instance of an LGBTQ person from Turkmenistan sharing their personal story with a media outlet. Homosexuality is a crime in Turkmenistan, punishable by two years in prison. On October 24, within days of the report’s publication, Garayev responded to a police summons, after which he was not heard from again until November 6, when he reappeared and recanted his story.

AFGHANISTAN: RFE/RL’s Afghan Service has collaborated with local authorities in Kabul and the administrations of two universities to create free, internet hotspots in areas easily accessible to students and women. Free Wi-Fi will be provided beginning in mid-November to the Kabul University Library, a men’s hostel, a women’s hostel, a park belonging to Kabul Education University of Rabbani, the historic Babur Garden, and the women’s park of Makrorayan in Kabul city.

CURRENT TIME: The network’s flagship feature series, Unknown Russia, has attracted nearly 1 million video views since the October 29 release of its latest segment, which depicts a pine-nut harvest in Siberia’s remote and mountainous Altai region. Some viewers reacted to the episode’s picturesque rural scenes, while others noted the region’s importance for Russia’s energy industry. Bordering China and Kazakhstan, Altai is the planned site of a pipeline that will deliver gas from western Siberia to western China.

ROMANIA: RFE/RL’s Romanian Service published an investigation revealing that Constantin Mitulețu-Buică, the president of Romania’s electoral authority, received over 80,000 Ron (around 19,000 USD) in seven months for what he claimed was travel to work. Mitulețu-Buică lives in the center of Bucharest in official government housing; commuting stipends are intended for persons who do not live in the capital. The report was quoted by all major media outlets including Antena 3, Euractiv, Ziare, Romania TV, B1, and others.

INCIDENTS BY NUMBERS

Aggregate incidents by country for 2019 in which RFE/RL journalists and contributors have been harassed, intimidated, threatened, assaulted, detained, or arrested because of their work.
Aggregate incidents by country for 2019 in which RFE/RL journalists and contributors have been harassed, intimidated, threatened, assaulted, detained, or arrested because of their work.

REPORTING 1989: RFE/RL’s Role In Eastern Europe’s Revolutions

About Journalists in Trouble

Journalists in Trouble is a bi-weekly report of incidents targeting RFE/RL journalists and their work, and developments affecting press freedom in our coverage region.​

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