CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Muzaffar Suleymanov

Blog   |   Russia

Protests not newsworthy to Kremlin-controlled media

A police officer falls down as he tries to detain a demonstrator during protests against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Triumphal Square in Moscow Wednesday. (AP)

Following Sunday's elections to the Russian Duma, news reports abound of the wave of opposition protests that have hit Russia's current and historic capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. In demonstrations unprecedented in the past decade, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets chanting "Russia without Putin!" and calling for the vote to be annulled, local and international press reported. And for the third day in a row, authorities have sent police and interior military troops to disperse and detain the civilian protesters, as the independent news website Lenta reports. As of Tuesday, at least 500 were in police custody, including several independent journalists detained while reporting on the rallies, the independent business daily Kommersant reported. CPJ protested the detention of journalists, one of them a Kommersant reporter, and demanded their release.

Blog   |   Kyrgyzstan

Q & A: Khudaiberdiyev on Kyrgyz trial, press freedom

New President Almazbek Atambayev was sworn in Thursday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. (AP)

In late October, a regional court in Jalal-Abad, southern Kyrgyzstan, convicted and sentenced in absentia to hefty prison terms two ethnic Uzbek media owners, Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV and Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV. Both men were tried in connection to the ethnic conflict that ravaged southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Authorities accused both media owners of stirring up the violence and participating in the mass killings--charges that CPJ research established to be politicized and unfounded. CPJ reached out to Khudaiberdiyev, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail, to comment on the prosecution and the state of press freedom in Kyrgyzstan.

Blog   |   Kyrgyzstan

Q & A: Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev on Kyrgyz 'justice'

Ethnic Uzbek men look for their belongings at a destroyed house outside Osh on June 16, 2010. (AFP)

On October 28, a regional court in Jalal-Abad, southern Kyrgyzstan, announced its verdict in the trial of six men--all ethnic Uzbeks--charged in connection with violent ethnic conflict in June 2010. Among the defendants were owners of what was once the region's most influential media--Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV and Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV. The Jalal-Abad City Court declared the defendants guilty on separate counts of incitement to ethnic hatred, organizing mass disorder, creation of armed military groups, separatism, and abuse of office. Khudaiberdiyev was sentenced to 20 years in jail, and Mirzakhodzhayev to 14 years; both men had fled Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and were tried and sentenced in absentia.

November 15, 2011 12:47 PM ET

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Blog   |   Belarus

A ray of hope for the embattled press in Belarus?

Plainclothes police arrest a protester in Minsk. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

In a rare development, the Belarusian general prosecutor, Grigory Vasilevich, stepped up for journalists and defended their right to report on ongoing political protests. According to a statement issued by his press office on Friday, Vasilevich sent a letter to Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov in which he reminded his colleague of journalists' rights under the law. While noting that police have a duty to protect public order and that journalists have an obligation to comply with national laws, Vasilevich urged Kuleshov to instruct police to do their work without obstructing reporters. 

July 19, 2011 9:41 AM ET

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Blog   |   Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan no 'island of democracy' as it censors the press

Kyrgyzstan is an "island of democracy" where authorities guarantee freedom of speech and reporting on protest rallies is not a crime, Kyrgyz government officials told an audience. They were speaking at a May 26 round-table discussion at the Open Society Institute in New York. CPJ vehemently disagreed. We had reported on the ongoing prosecution of media owners in the country and how a regional reporter had been recently sentenced to life in prison.

Blog   |   Kyrgyzstan

Otunbayeva must put words into action in Askarov case

President Otunbayeva should apply the rule of law in the Askarov case. (AP/Maxim Shubovich)

World leaders like to invoke terms such as press freedom, human rights, and the rule of law in their speeches, especially to international audience. But in post-Soviet Eurasia, such high-minded words are rarely accompanied by genuine action. A recent commentary in The Washington Post by Roza Otunbayeva, president of Kyrgyzstan, is a testament to this pattern.

March 11, 2011 4:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   Belarus, Uzbekistan

EU has contradictory message on Karimov, Lukashenko

After defying the EU for years, Uzbek President Islam Karimov is welcomed by Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. (Reuters/Thierry Roge)

Unless European Union officials mean to expose the inconsistency of their own policymaking, they should stand firm by their declared commitment to defend press freedom and human rights in the former Soviet countries. For now, their drastically different approaches to authoritarian leaders in Belarus and Uzbekistan leave one questioning the EU's strategy. 

January 24, 2011 11:19 AM ET

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Blog   |   Azerbaijan

With friends like this ... Aliyev gets Azerbaijani 'award'

Is President Aliyev a friend of journalists? Ask the journalists jailed and harassed in his country. (AP)

Life is full of surprises. In Eurasia, authoritarian leaders and their entourages like to pull them out around the holidays. What made my eyes open wide this season was a news report from Azerbaijan, dated December 29. The Baku-based Trend news agency said President Ilham Aliyev had been given the "Journalists' Friend Award" by the Azerbaijani Committee for the Protection of Journalists. That's the same President Aliyev whose government is imprisoning newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev in defiance of two rulings by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.