INCIDENTS AND THREATS
RFE/RL Belarus Service correspondent Ihar Karney, who was detained at a November 15 protest against Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk this weekend, has been jailed for 10 days, relatives said on November 18. The Service’s chief video editor, Yulia Kotskaya was separately sentenced to eight days in jail. At least 18 journalists -- including Karney, Kotskaya, and their Belarus Service colleagues Andrey Shaulyuha and Andrey Rabchyk -- were among the 1,200 people detained in Minsk and other cities on November 15, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists. RFE/RL Condemns Verdict Against Belarusian Journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for a transparent investigation into the murder of RFE/RL journalist Mohammad Ilyas Dayee in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, in what the Afghan government, the United Nations, and others condemned as an attack on press freedom in the war-torn country. The 33-year-old Dayee was killed on November 12 after a magnetic bomb attached to his vehicle exploded.
Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov and six State Duma deputies submitted a draft bill to the Russian State Duma on sanctions for foreign Internet platforms that “censor Russian media.” The law will allow platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to be blocked in the country. Roskomnadzor supports the bill, claiming that it would protect the right to freedom of information in Russia. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
A Russian lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party has introduced two pieces of legislation that would further restrict citizens' rights to assembly. The bills that were introduced in the parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, by Dmitry Vyatkin on November 17 seek to ban the financing of rallies by foreign sources, would make it illegal for people to line up and replace participants of single-picket protests, and introduce restrictions for journalists covering such gatherings.
Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, often referred to as President Vladimir Putin’s “chef,” has filed a lawsuit to defend his honor, dignity and business reputation against the editor-in-chief of Meduza, Ivan Kolpakov, the editor-in-chief of the Vladimir-based newspaper Dovod, Ilya Kosygin, and journalist Maxim Shevchenko. In an article published in Dovod, Shevchenko asserts that Prigozhin -- who has already filed a similar lawsuit against Shevchenko, opposition politician Alexei Navalny, Lyubov Sobol and others -- is a twice convicted felon, and that one of the convictions is for the involvement of minors in prostitution. The article was accompanied by a hyperlink to an story about Prigozhin posted by Meduza on June 9, 2016. (Russian Service)
The Belarusian Association of Journalists has won the Media Freedom Award, an honor bestowed by the governments of Britain and Canada for the first time in 2020, the foreign ministries of the two countries said on November 16. The Minsk-based group was singled out for its “ongoing commitment to journalistic ethics and principles and its perseverance and self-sacrifice in the face of increased targeted crackdowns on media in Belarus," the Canadian government said in a statement. The award was presented at the end of the second global conference on press freedom hosted virtually by Canada and Botswana.
The Kazakh authorities have dropped charges against well-known journalist Ermurat Bapi, who had been accused of breaking the law on public gatherings. Bapi quoted a police official at the Almaty City Administrative Court as telling him on November 16 that the administrative case brought against him had been dropped. The official did not provide an explanation, he said. The journalist had been summoned to the court for a hearing in the case.
A Kazakh court has upheld a decision to commit journalist and blogger Aigul Otepova, accused of involvement in the activities of a banned organization, to a psychiatric clinic. The Nur-Sultan court of appeals announced its decision on November 19, meaning that Otepova will now be transferred from house arrest to a clinic in accordance with a court decision last week. The initial ruling said Otepova must be placed in a psychiatric clinic for one month to check her mental sanity. Amnesty International declares Otepova a “prisoner of conscience.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the European Union to make clear that greater support for Central Asia must be tied to “genuine” human rights reforms. The New York-based human rights watchdog made the call on November 16, as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell prepares to meet virtually with foreign ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for the 16th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting.
Russian investigators have decided not to open a criminal case into the self-immolation of a journalist who died early last month after setting herself on fire in an apparent reaction to being investigated by authorities, the family's lawyer says. The lawyer of Irina Slavina's family told Kommersant daily on November 16 that the Investigative Committee refused to launch a probe into possible incitement to suicide, which her colleagues, relatives, and rights activists have demanded.
The editor-in-chief of the Akhbor website, Mirzo Salimpur, said that he decided to shut down the independent Internet publication, due to problems that have arisen after the "unreasonable decision of the Supreme Court of Tajikistan" this past February to include the site on a list of banned websites in Tajikistan. The Akhbor news site was launched in Prague four years ago. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
The Ismoili Somoni District Court in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe has reinstated Abdumalik Kodirov as director of the Internews office in Tajikistan, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service learned on November 19. Kodirov, who had been Internews-Tajikistan director since 2016, was dismissed from his post this past March. Kodirov then filed suit, as he considered the decision to be “contrary to labor laws” and “organizational rules.” Internews’ regional director in Europe and the former Soviet Union, Dmitry Surnin told RFE/RL that “Mr. Kodirov was not fired or 'dismissed from his post,' Internews decided not to renew his fixed-term employment contract.” (Tajik Service)