Leading independent media outlets in Belarus have published blank front pages with the words, “There should have been a photo here," in solidarity with two photojournalists -- including one from RFE/RL -- who were jailed on September 13 after covering a mass protest in Minsk. [Two Photojournalists, Including One From RFE/RL, Jailed In Belarus After Covering Anti-Government Rally]
INCIDENTS AND THREATS
The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has called on the Ukrainian government to investigate all crimes against journalists as the country marked the 20th anniversary of the day when prominent reporter Heorhiy Gongadze disappeared and was later found dead. The video statement in Ukrainian by the U.S. Embassy's Counselor for Public Affairs Walter Braunohler was posted on Facebook on September 16. A memorial plaque honoring Gongadze was unveiled on the building of Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists in Kyiv.
Media freedom watchdogs have condemned the prison sentence handed to Iranian independent journalist Khosro Sadeghi Borojeni and urged the country's authorities to stop arbitrarily jailing members of the press. Borojeni, a freelance columnist, was taken to Tehran’s Evin prison on September 9 to begin a seven-year prison term on charges of "insulting the Islamic Republic’s founder," "anti-government propaganda," and "meeting and conspiring against national and international security." according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The Moscow City Court has upheld the extension to December 7 of pretrial detention for former journalist Ivan Safronov, who is charged with high treason. The appeal of a September 2 ruling by a Moscow district court to extend Safronov's detention was held on September 15 behind closed doors, as the case is classified.
Police in Pakistan's port city of Karachi have released a local journalist accused of spreading hateful content against the country's military on social media, as a court reprimanded the police for overstepping their mandate, said a lawyer for journalist Bilal Farooqi. Ghulam Shabbir told Reuters on September 12, “The court asked the police if a FIR (first information report) does not stand ground, who has given you authority to pick up people from home?” Farooqi, who works for the English-language Express Tribune newspaper, was arrested at his home on September 11.
Belsat TV journalists Yekaterina Andreeva and Maksim Kalitovsky spent three days in a detention center in Minsk. Speaking to Current Time TV, Andreeva describes the terrible conditions, lack of beds, horrible smell and disgusting food. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Belarus state-run media outlets are threatening parents who take their children along to the protest rallies across the country. Some say that not only children can be trampled, they can also be taken to the police. Journalists, anchors and various officials, including a representative of the Prosecutor's Office, threaten parents with sanctions, including stripping parents of parental rights and removing children from families. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
A court in the Russian republic of Ingushetia sentenced a former editor of the opposition online media outlet Fortanga, Rashid Maisigov to three years in prison on drug charges that Maisigov disputes. Prosecutors have asked a court in the region’s capital, Magas for a five-year sentence. Maisigov was arrested in June 2019 and charged with possession of illegal drugs; Maisigov and his lawyers insist that the drugs were planted and the whole case was fabricated by local authorities. (Russian Service)
The Ukrainian Parliament will consider in the second reading the draft law on media that has been widely criticised by journalists and NGO’s. According to the preliminary schedule, the bill will be considered during the plenary week of September 29-October 2. In late June, 70 media and NGO representatives signed an appeal calling on the parliament to reject the bill due to freedom of speech concerns. The OSCE has also issued a negative assessment of the draft bill. (Ukrainian Service)
Russian media are reporting, citing an explanatory note to the draft law “On the federal budget for 2021 and the planning period of 2022 and 2023,” that the Ministry of Finance plans to allocate approximately $1.36 billion to state media projects in 2021, or 40% more than originally planned. The report notes that the 2020 budget included just over $1 billion in media subsidies, while the actual expenditure was $1.34 billion, therefore, the increase in financing for 2021 is not very significant. (in Russian, Current Time TV)