The Embassy of the Czech Republic, in collaboration with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), presents the online discussion Radio Free Europe at 70: Its Importance Then and Now with former RFE/RL directors Jamie Fly and Tom Dine moderated by Tomáš Etzler on December 9, 2020, from 10-11 am.
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
Minsk Economic Court deprived the TUT.BY portal of its media status on December 3. The court thus satisfied a claim filed by Belarus’ Ministry of Information, which said that “false information” in the materials, for which the agency had issued warnings, harms state interests. The publication’s defense team charged that the Ministry of Information itself had committed a violation by not specifying what state interest had been harmed, and noted that the deprivation of media status limits the right of citizens to access reliable information. (Belarus Service)
A court in Moscow has extended the pretrial detention of former journalist Ivan Safronov, who is charged with high treason. The Lefortovo district court on November 30 ruled that Safronov, who most recently worked at the Russian space agency Roscosmos, must be held at least until March 7, 2021. Only Safronov's girlfriend, Ksenia Mironova, and his sister Irina were allowed to be present in the courtroom when the court handed down its decision; due to the classified nature of the case, the hearing was held behind closed doors.
Referring to an allegedly “targeted policy of censoring the Russian media” on YouTube. Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has asked the country’s leading internet companies to create and popularize domestic video hosting sites. The agency particularly drew attention to the complete blocking of ANNA-News on YouTube, about which they sent a letter to Google demanding the restoration of the channel. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Unknown arsonists destroyed a car belonging to Marina Malkova, a journalist at the independent news outlet Znak.com in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on November 24 in an attack that the reporter's employer sees as linked to her professional activities. Malkova, the media outlet said, was at home when she heard a loud noise. When she looked outside, her car was in flames.
A major Russian TV network has broadcast a racist caricature of Barack Obama, using an actress in blackface to play the former U.S. president in a sketch.
After scouring data published by the Russian Health Ministry;s Information Center for monitoring the situation with the coronavirus and comparing it with information on the stopcoronavirus.ru website, Russian journalists from “Meduza” and “Mediazona” concluded that Russian authorities have undercounted the death rate from coronavirus by half. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
The leadership of one of Tajikistan’s most popular local independent information agencies, Asia-Plus, was served notice that it must vacate its current offices on the first floor of the state-owned newspaper and magazine building and move to the same building’s 13th floor, which was last renovated during Soviet times. Their current offices are to be given to the state news agency “Khovar.” When Asia-Plus moved into the 1st floor office 14 years ago, which at that time was a public sauna, it completed extensive renovations and was current with its rent. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
RFE/RL Belarus Service journalist Ihar Karney was detained with his wife on November 15 in Minsk; while his wife Inna was released the next morning, nobody knew what happened to Ihar. His name turned up on a list of prisoners being held at the detention center in Zhodino only three days later. Karney spent 10 days in Zhodino and says that local courts do not distinguish even among Lukashenka supporters and usually give them the same sentences as for those who came out against Lukashenka. (in Russian, Current Time TV) Journalists Released After 15 Day Sentences (in Belarusian, Belarus Service)
The lawyer for Khabarovsk-based journalist Tatyana Khlestunova, Vitaly Tykhta, has told the RFE/RL Russian Service project Sibir.Realii that Khlestunova has once again been arrested. Khlestunova was detained while covering a November 28 protest in support of arrested governor Sergei Furgal, who is accused of organizing the murders of entrepreneurs 15 years ago. The former official does not admit his guilt. Khlestunova was found guilty of participation in a mass event that interfered with the work of the city infrastructure. (Russian Service/ Siberia.Realii)
Following a complaint from State Duma deputy Alexander Vasiliev, Pskov-based Ekho Moskvy journalist Konstantin Kalinichenko was called in for questioning by the “E” Center for combating extremism. Kalinichenko told Sever.Realii was not served an official summons, but was contacted by telephone and told that MP Vasiliev wrote a statement addressed to Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev demanding that a Kalinichenko column be reviewed for disrespect for the authorities and signs of extremism. In his column, Kalinichenko addressed Vasilyev's initiative to ban studded tires in central Russia and analyzed his activities as a deputy. (Russian Service/Sever.Realii)
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reports that regional correspondents for the private Uzbek TV channel Zo'rTV have been banned from covering rallies of disgruntled citizens about gas shortages and other problems. They received this instruction from the management of the TV channel, which in turn received a warning from the Uzbek presidential administration’s Agency for Information and Mass Communications. According to a local journalist working for Zo'rTV, restrictions on local correspondents were imposed after the program aired reports on November 11 on citizen protests about the lack of electricity and gas in the Karshi region. Documents obtained by RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service show that President Shavkat Mirziyoev’s Administration sees “no difference between state press and independent publications.” (Uzbek Service)