Europe & Central Asia

2003


Alerts   |   Belarus

Court declares missing journalist dead

New York, December 2, 2003—Last week, a district court in the Belarus' capital, Minsk, declared journalist Dmitry Zavadsky officially dead. Zavadsky, a 29-year-old cameraman for the Russian public television network ORT, disappeared in July 2000.

According to local press reports, the cameraman's widow, Svetlana Zavadskaya, initiated the judicial process in October 2003. Zavadsky's body was never recovered following his abduction.
December 2, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

Court releases imprisoned journalist

New York, November 13, 2003—The Chelyabinsk Regional Court today amended the sentence of imprisoned journalist German Galkin from one year in jail to one year of probation, according to local press reports. Authorities immediately released Galkin from prison in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk.

Galkin, publisher of Rabochaya Gazeta and deputy chief editor of Vecherny Chelyabinsk, was convicted of criminal defamation on August 15 for allegedly libeling and insulting two deputy governors in his publications. He was sentenced to one year in a labor camp. Galkin’s defense team appealed the conviction but on October 7, the Kalininsky District Court in Chelyabinsk upheld the journalist’s conviction.
November 13, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Supreme Court upholdsacquittal of journalists on state secrets charge

New York, November 10, 2003—Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the acquittal last week of two journalists from the Perm-based independent newspaper Zvezda who were charged with revealing state secrets.

Yuri Shmidt, the journalists’ lawyer, said that the district court’s ruling was so strongly supportive of the journalists that it would have been impossible for the Supreme Court to overturn it.

November 10, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Constitutional Court abolishes part of restrictive election law

New York, October 30, 2003—Russia’s Constitutional Court today struck down part of a law that sought to strengthen state regulation over independent media outlets, particularly coverage of election campaigns.

According to local and international press reports, the court ruled that a sub-section of Article 48 of the law “On Fundamental Guarantees of Voters Rights” is unconstitutional because it could be used to restrict freedom of expression during election campaigning.
October 30, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Police crackdown on media amid presidential elections

New York, October 17, 2003—Police and security forces attacked and wounded dozens of journalists covering two opposition rallies held in the Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

According to local and international press reports, the Musavat Party organized several rallies to protest the outcome of presidential elections held on Wednesday, October 15.
October 17, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Bolivia, Chile, Georgia

Ataques y amenazas contra medios y periodistas, mientras la crisis política se intensifica

Nueva York, 17 de octubre del 2003--El Comité para la Protección de los Periodistas (CPJ, por sus siglas en inglés) está sumamente alarmado por los ataques y amenazas contra medios de prensa y periodistas esta semana durante las masivas protestas antigubernamentales que amenazan con derrocar al gobierno boliviano.

El miércoles 15 de octubre, atacantes no identificados volaron los equipos de transmisión del Canal 13 de televisión y de la radioemisora católica Radio Pío XII, ambos con sede en la ciudad de Oruro, lo que los obligó a salir del aire. De acuerdo con el periodista de Radio Pío XII Grover Alejandro, cerca de las 6 p.m. varios oyentes comenzaron a llamar a la radioemisora para informar que se había caído la señal del Canal 13, el que había estado bajando de forma intermitente la señal de Radio Pío XII.
October 17, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF INDEPENDENT DAILY MURDERED

New York, October 10, 2003—Aleksei Sidorov, the editor-in-chief of the independent daily Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye, was murdered yesterday in Togliatti, a city situated on the Volga River 600 miles (960 kilometers) east of Moscow.

Sidorov is the second editor-in-chief of Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye to be murdered in the last 18 months. His predecessor, Valery Ivanov, was shot at point-blank range in April 2002.
October 10, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

Federal court upholds journalist's conviction

New York, October 7, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply disappointed that the Kalininsky District Court, in the city of Chelyabinsk, today upheld journalist German Galkin's conviction on criminal defamation charges and sentence of one year in a labor camp.

On August 15, Galkin was convicted of criminal defamation following a trial that was closed to the public. The court sentenced Galkin to one year in a labor camp for allegedly libeling and insulting two deputy governors of the Chelyabinsk Region, Andrei Kosilov and Konstantin Bochkaryov, who report to Chelyabinsk's pro-Communist governor, Pyotr Sumin.
October 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Two journalists die in car accident while on assignment

New York, October 7, 2003—CPJ mourns the loss of a television crew and their driver from the national state broadcaster Channel One, who died in a car accident in the Siberian region of Tyumen while on assignment.

Channel One journalist Natalia Astafyeva, cameraman Sergei Isakov, and driver Yuri Selyanov died on Saturday when their car collided with a truck on the Tyumen-Khanty Mansiik highway.

They were returning from Nizhnevartovsk, where they were shooting a piece on the daily life of local ethnic groups in the Khanty Mansiisk Autonomous District.
October 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Lithuania

Court issues mixed decision on pro-independence Chechen Web site

New York, October 1, 2003—The Second District Court in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius yesterday ruled that the State Security Department overstepped its authority when it shuttered the pro-independence Chechen Web site KavkazCenter on June 20.

The State Security Department disconnected and confiscated KavkazCenter's server at the private Vilnius-based Internet provider Elneta on June 20 because the Web site was allegedly spreading "terrorist propaganda," according to local and international press reports.
October 1, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Constitutional Court to examine restrictive media and election laws

New York, September 26, 2003—The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has decided to hold a hearing on October 13 examining the constitutionality of legal amendments that recently strengthened state regulation over independent media outlets, particularly their coverage of election campaigns.

The independent Moscow-based radio station Ekho Moskvy and the reformist Union of Right Forces (SPS) political party—one of the plaintiffs in the case—both reported on the Constitutional Court's decision today.
September 26, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Uzbekistan

Court rejects imprisoned journalist's appeal

New York, September 26, 2003—At a closed hearing yesterday, the City Court in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, rejected an appeal by jailed journalist and human rights activist Ruslan Sharipov to have his conviction and prison sentence overturned, according to local and international press reports.

Instead, the court dropped one of the three charges against Sharipov and reduced his prison sentence from five and a half years to four years.
September 26, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

Investigators search office of news Web site

New York, September 24, 2003—Investigators from the Moscow Prosecutor General's Office searched the office of the Moscow-based independent news Web site Grani.ru on Friday, September 19.

Investigators said they wanted an original copy of an anonymous e-mail that Grani.ru had received on August 18 containing a video recording of two prosecutors working for the pro-Russian administration in the southern republic of Chechnya who were abducted by unidentified individuals on December 27, 2002, according to local press reports. Grani.ru posted the video the day it was received.
September 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET

  |   Russia

Journalists Killed in Russia 2000-2003

Vladimir Yatsina, ITAR-TASS, February 20, 2000, Chechnya

Yatsina, a photographer with the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, was killed in Chechnya by Chechen militants who had taken him hostage. Two former hostages, Alisher Orazaliyev from Kazakhstan, and Kirill Perchenko from Moscow, reported the killing in statements recorded by Amnesty International after their release at the end of February.

Alerts   |   Lithuania

Authorities detain and expel film crew

New York, September 18, 2003—Lithuanian border guards detained and expelled a film crew from the independent, Moscow-based national television station NTV on Sunday, September 14, after they filmed a protest on a train near the Lithuanian-Russian border.

According to Russian and Lithuanian press reports, NTV journalist Vadim Fefilov, cameraman Vladimir Chervyakov, and sound technician Aleksey Zolotov arrived at the Kena border post in Lithuania at about 10 a.m. on September 14 on a train heading from Moscow to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

September 18, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Letters   |   Russia

Journalist convicted of criminal defamation up for appeal

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, is extremely concerned that German Galkin, publisher of Rabochaya Gazeta and deputy chief editor of Vecherny Chelyabinsk, both opposition newspapers, was convicted on criminal defamation charges. We are writing ahead of his appeal hearing, scheduled for tomorrow, to urge you to take measures to ensure that Russian journalists are not prosecuted under outdated press laws.

September 17, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Letters   |   Uzbekistan

CPJ calls for release of imprisoned journalist

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, is extremely concerned about the conviction, imprisonment, and torture of journalist and human rights activist Ruslan Sharipov. The Tashkent City Court is planning to hear an appeal in the case on September 23, and we call on you to see that he is released immediately.

September 17, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Ukraine

CPJ marks third anniversary of journalist's disappearance

New York, September 16, 2003—Three years after the disappearance of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is dismayed by the lack of progress in the government's inquiry into this case.

"President Leonid Kuchma's government continues to obstruct the official inquiry," said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. "Journalists in Ukraine will not feel safe until the government's role in Gongadze's disappearance is fully clarified, and those responsible for his abduction and subsequent death are behind bars."
September 16, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Uzbekistan

Imprisoned journalist reports being tortured

New York, September 11, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has learned that Ruslan Sharipov, a jailed Uzbek journalist and human rights activist, issued a statement from prison on September 5 reporting that he pled guilty to one charge in his August trial because authorities had forced him to do so by torturing him.

In the statement, Sharipov wrote, “I was tortured and pressured in ways I cannot describe with the aim of forcing me to confess and plead guilty at the trial for a crime I hadn’t committed.” He continued, “They put a gas mask on my head and sprayed an unknown substance into my throat. …After that I could hardly breath, they injected an unknown substance into my veins and said they will inject me with the AIDs virus if I did not follow their instructions.”

September 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Police officers assault journalists

New York, September 11, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is outraged by a police attack earlier this week on a group of independent and opposition journalists outside the police headquarters in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

The attack occurred after 4 p.m. on Monday, September 8, in front of the headquarters while the journalists, were covering the arrival of Popular Front activist Fuad Mustafaev for police questioning, said local press reports.
September 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Supreme Court rejects journalist's appeal to review conviction

New York, September 5, 2003—Russia’s Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by Russian journalist Grigory Pasko challenging his December 2001 criminal conviction for treason.

Ivan Pavlov, Pasko’s attorney, told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he received a letter on Thursday, September 4, from the Supreme Court’s deputy chairman, Anatoli Merkushov, informing him that the court would not hear an appeal to review the December 25, 2001, criminal verdict.

September 5, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Letters   |   Tajikistan

CPJ concerned about criminal defamation and access to information

Dear Mr. Ubaydulloyev: Joel Simon, Josh Friedman, and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you on July 22 to discuss press freedom conditions in Tajikistan. We also appreciate your willingness to review a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) outlining our specific concerns about the country's criminal defamation laws and problems regarding journalists' access to government information.

August 27, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Tajikistan

CPJ sends letters to authorities Asks for details about 29 murdered journalists and outlines concerns about criminal defamation and access to information

New York, August 27, 2003— Following a two-week mission to Tajikistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists sent letters today to Azizmat Imomov, Tajikistan’s deputy prosecutor general, and Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloyev, parliamentary chairman and mayor of the capital, Dushanbe.

The letters were based on three-days of intensive meetings with government officials in which the CPJ delegation expressed deep concerns that those who murdered journalists during Tajikistan’s bloody 1992-1997 civil war have not been brought to justice. The delegation consisted of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and CPJ board member Josh Friedman, CPJ deputy director Joel Simon, and CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Alex Lupis.
August 27, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Journalist convicted and imprisoned on criminal defamation charges

New York, August 20, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns a district court's conviction of independent journalist German Galkin on criminal defamation charges in the southern city of Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural mountains.

According to local and international press reports, on August 15, following a trial that was closed to the public, the court sentenced Galkin to one year in a labor camp for allegedly libeling and insulting two deputy governors of the Chelyabinsk region, Andrei Kosilov and Konstantin Bochkaryov. Galkin is publisher of Rabochaya Gazeta and deputy chief editor of Vecherny Chelyabinsk, both opposition newspapers.
August 20, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Moscow court upholds denial of travel passport to Grigory Pasko

New York, August 12, 2003—The Moscow City Court upheld an earlier July 24 district court ruling today denying a foreign passport to Russian journalist Grigory Pasko.

Ivan Pavlov, Pasko's attorney, told CPJ in a telephone interview today that Pasko plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Pasko was convicted of treason and sentenced to four years in prison on December 25, 2001, for intending to leak classified information to Japanese news outlets about the Russian Pacific Fleet's dumping of nuclear waste in the Sea of Japan. Pasko was released on parole based on good behavior in January 2003 after having served two-thirds of his sentence.
August 12, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Tajikistan

SUSPECTS CONVICTED OF MURDERING TWO JOURNALISTS DURING TAJIKISTAN'S CIVIL WAR

New York, July 29, 2003—Tajikistan's Supreme Court today convicted two suspects in the murders of Muhiddin Olimpur, head of the BBC's Persian Service bureau, and Viktor Nikulin, a correspondent with the Russian television network ORT, both of whom were killed during the country's civil war in the mid-1990s.

Narzibek Davlatov and Akhtam Toirov were sentenced to 15 and 22 years in prison, respectively, for serving as accomplices in the slayings. The two men were arrested in October 2001, and their trial began in June 2003.
July 29, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Tajikistan

CPJ DELEGATION CALLS FOR GREATER PRESS ACCESS AND AN END TO IMPUNITY IN TAJIKISTAN

Dushanbe, July 24, 2003—A delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the government of Tajikistan to combat the culture of fear and self-censorship lingering from its bloody 1992-1997 civil war by investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the murders of dozens of journalists during that period.

The delegation also called on the government to reverse its culture of secrecy by making its activities and deliberations more accessible to journalists and the public.
July 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

Court rejects journalist's appeal for travel passport

New York, July 24, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply disappointed with today's ruling by Moscow's Lyublinsky District Court to uphold Moscow's Southeastern District Visa and Registration Authorities (OVIR) decision to deny a foreign passport to journalist Grigory Pasko.

Pasko was convicted of treason and sentenced to four years in prison on December 25, 2001, for intending to leak classified information to Japanese news outlets about the Russian Pacific Fleet's dumping of nuclear waste in the Sea of Japan. Pasko was released on parole based on good behavior in January 2003 after having served two-thirds of his sentence.
July 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Georgia

Suspect convicted in television journalist's murder


New York, July 11, 2003—A Georgian court sentenced former police officer Grigol Khurtsilava on Wednesday, July 9, to a 13-year prison term for the July 2001 murder of popular television journalist Georgy Sanaya. Sanaya anchored "Night Courier," a nightly political talk show on the independent television station Rustavi 2 in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital.

The journalist was found dead in his Tbilisi apartment on July 26, 2001. He had been shot once in the head at close range with a 9 mm weapon. Khurtsilava, a former police officer, was arrested for the murder in December 2001.
July 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Belarus

Russian TV bureau and U.S.-funded media organizations closed

New York, July 10, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent closure by the Belarusian authorities of Russian television network NTV's Belarus bureau, as well as the decision to cancel accreditation for the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and Internews, both U.S. government-funded organizations that provide support to independent media.

On July 7, Belarusian Council of Ministers ordered NTV's bureau closed, according to several CPJ sources. This decision, officially based on the network's alleged repeated violations of Belarus' Media Law, followed the expulsion of NTV's Belarus correspondent Pavel Selin late last month. [For more information, read CPJ's June 30 news alert],

July 10, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Journalist Grigory Pasko denied travel passport


New York, July 10, 2003—
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is dismayed that Moscow's southeastern district visa and registration authorities (OVIR) have denied a foreign passport to journalist Grigory Pasko, who was released from prison in January after serving more than two years in prison.

Pasko told CPJ in a telephone interview that officials denied his application, which was submitted in March 2003, on Tuesday, July 8, because he was released from prison in January 2003 before serving his entire prison sentence. Pasko and his lawyer maintain that Russian law does not contain such restrictions and have already appealed the decision.
July 10, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Agence France-Presse reporter abducted

New York, July 7, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about the safety of Ali Astamirov, a correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, who was abducted on Friday, July 4, by unknown armed assailants in Ingushetia, according to sources in Russia.

Astamirov, who previously worked for Chechnya's Grozny Television and reported on Chechnya and Chechen refugees, was based in Ingushetia's capital, Nazran. The journalist was kidnapped while he and two colleagues, humanitarian worker Ruslan Musayev and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) stringer Aslambek Dadayev, were driving through Nazran and stopped for gas. A white vehicle blocked the car, and armed men, wearing masks and camouflage attire, seized the journalists' cell phones, pulled Astamirov out of the car, and drove off. According to Dadayev's account in the Russian press, the abductors drove off in the direction of Chechnya.
July 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Letters   |   Russia

CPJ calls on Putin not to sign legislation

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, is very concerned about a bill, titled "On Amendments and Addendums Brought into Certain Legislative Acts," that was passed by the lower and upper houses of Russia's parliament on June 18 and June 25, respectively. The bill, which seeks to strengthen state regulation over independent media outlets, particularly their coverage of election campaigns, currently awaits your approval.

July 1, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Czech Republic

Diplomat convicted for conspiring to murder journalist

New York, July 1, 2003--A Czech court yesterday convicted the former general secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Karel Srba, of plotting to murder Sabina Slonkova, an investigative reporter for the independent Prague daily Mlada Fronta Dnes.

According to local and international press reports, a regional court in the southern city of Ceske Budejovice convicted Srba of illegal possession of weapons and conspiring to blow up Slonkova with plastic explosives. Srba was sentenced to eight years in a maximum-security prison, the CTK news agency reported.
July 1, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Belarus

Russian television journalist expelled

New York, June 30, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent expulsion of Pavel Selin, a correspondent with the Russian television network NTV based in Belarus's capital, Minsk.

On Saturday, June 28, Selin was summon to the Internal Affairs Ministry, where he was told to leave the country within 24 hours, according to Russian and international news reports. The journalist returned to Moscow yesterday.
June 30, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Parliament approves restrictive legal amendments

New York, June 26, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is disappointed that the upper house of Russia's Parliament, the Federation Council, approved a series of legal amendments on Wednesday, June 25, that could severely restrict the media's ability to report on the December 2003 parliamentary elections and the March 2004 presidential elections.

The lower house, or the State Duma, passed the legal amendments on June 18. [See CPJ's June 6 letter.]
June 26, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Media Ministry closes national TV channel


New York, June 23, 2003
—The Russian Media Ministry issued a decree on Saturday, June 21, pulling the independent national television channel TVS off the air at midnight, replacing it with Sport TV, a state-run sports channel.

TVS, the only channel in Russia that has remained highly critical of the Kremlin, was paralyzed for months due to fierce competition between two groups of rival shareholders led by aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska and Anatoly Chubais, a reformist politician and head of Russia's national electricity grid. Deripaska, who has close ties to the Kremlin, finally bought out Chubais in early June but failed to provide funds for the continued operation of the debt-ridden station.
June 23, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Parliament passes restrictive legal amendments

New York, June 20, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is disappointed that the lower house of Russia's parliament, the State Duma, passed a series of legal amendments on Wednesday, June 18, that would severely restrict the media's ability to report on the December 2003 parliamentary elections and the February 2004 presidential elections.

The bill, titled "On Amendments and Addendums Brought into Certain Legislative Acts," would empower the Media Ministry, Central Election Commission (CEC), and regional electoral commissions to shutter media outlets during electoral campaigns for engaging in "biased" political commentary.
June 20, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Letters   |   Russia

CPJ concerned about legislation

Dear Mr. Chairman: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, is very concerned about a bill, titled "On Amendments and Addendums Brought into Certain Legislative Acts," currently under consideration in the Russian Parliament. The bill, which is scheduled for a second--and possibly final--reading in the lower house of the Duma on June 11, seeks to strengthen state regulation over independent media outlets, particularly their coverage of election campaigns.

June 6, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Serbia

Politician allegedly attacks journalist during interview

New York, June 5, 2003—According to 24-year-old free-lancer Vladimir Jesic, the mayor of the central city of Cacak attacked him during an interview on TV Apolo on Sunday, June 1, in the capital, Belgrade.

Mayor Velimir Ilic, who also heads the New Serbia party, became angry when Jesic asked him if he is related to Strahinja Ilic, who had been detained by the government in the mass arrests that followed the March 12 assassination of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djinidjic. In a telephone interview, the journalist told CPJ that Ilic kicked him in the knee, told him to shut up, and began cursing and threatening him while he walked out on the interview at the New Serbia office in Belgrade.
June 5, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Belarus

Information Ministry closes independent newspaper for three months

New York, May 30, 2003—CPJ is disturbed that the independent, Minsk-based newspaper Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta was forced to cease publication for three months on order of Belarusian information minister Mikhail Podgayny.

Minister Podgayny issued the order on Wednesday, May 28, and the papers closed yesterday.

The Information Ministry had given three official warnings to Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta and to its monthly investigative supplement, BDG­Dlya sluzhebnogo polzovaniya, on May 20, 21, and 22 for allegedly defaming President Aleksandr Lukashenko and publishing information about court proceedings without obtaining proper authorization, according to local press reports.
May 30, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Belarus

Information Ministry closes independent newspaper for three months

New York, May 30, 2003--CPJ is disturbed that the independent, Minsk-based newspaper Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta was forced to cease publication for three months on order of Belarusian information minister Mikhail Podgayny.

Minister Podgayny issued the order on Wednesday, May 28, and the papers closed yesterday.

The Information Ministry had given three official warnings to Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta and to its monthly investigative supplement, BDG­Dlya sluzhebnogo polzovaniya, on May 20, 21, and 22 for allegedly defaming President Aleksandr Lukashenko and publishing information about court proceedings without obtaining proper authorization, according to local press reports.
May 30, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Supreme Court orders retrial of defendants previously acquitted of journalist’s murder

New York, May 28, 2003—The Military Collegium of the Supreme Court yesterday overturned the June 2002 acquittal of six men accused of organizing the 1994 murder of Dmitry Kholodov, a popular journalist for the Moscow newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Moscow Circuit Military Court had "failed to take all available evidence into account" during the 18-month trial, which began in November 2000, according to the Interfax news agency.

May 28, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Independent journalists convicted for libeling president's brother

New York, May 22, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned by the Tuesday, May 20, conviction of two journalists from the opposition weekly newspaper Mukhalifet on charges of criminally libeling the brother of President Heydar Aliyev.

On May 20, the Yasamal District Court in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, found Mukhalifet editor-in-chief Rovshan Kabirli and journalist Yashar Agazade guilty of libeling member of parliament Jalal Aliyev, who is also Aliyev's brother, and sentenced them to five months in prison each.
May 22, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Local television journalist violently attacked

New York, May 19, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns today’s violent attack against Aleksandr Stetsun, a journalist with Ural Television Agency (TAU), an independent station in the city of Ekaterinburg, 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of the capital, Moscow, in the Ural Mountains.

The attack occurred this morning while Stetsun was standing outside his home waiting for colleagues to pick him up for work, according to local reports.
May 19, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Popular radio station raided by police Journalists arrested

New York, May 7, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday’s police raid on the popular opposition radio station Krasnaya Armiya in the city of Noyabrsk, in Russia’s central Ural Region.

The station was attacked after the City Election Committee annulled the results of Sunday, May 4, mayoral elections in four electoral districts, giving incumbent mayor Yuri Link the advantage over challenger Anatoly Kudryashov, who had reportedly been leading polls at that point. A wave of protests in support of Kudryashov followed.
May 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Ukraine

Local prosecutor in Gongadze case convicted and amnestied

New York, May 7, 2003—The Shevchenko District Court in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, yesterday convicted and then amnestied Serhy Obozov, the former prosecutor of Tarashcha District, for obstructing the criminal inquiry into the September 2000 disappearance and murder of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze, according to local and international press reports.

Obozov, who was arrested in August 2002, was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year prison term for forging documents, acting negligently in conducting the criminal inquiry, and planting false evidence at the scene of the murder, The Associated Press reported.
May 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

Four journalists die in helicopter crash

New York, May 5, 2003—CPJ mourns the death of four journalists killed on Saturday, May 3, when a large firefighting helicopter they were traveling in crashed in the Chita Region, some 3,000 miles east of the capital, Moscow, according to local and international press reports. Seven crewmen and a forest management official also died.
May 5, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Opposition newspaper attacked

New York, May 5, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday’s attack on the offices on Yeni Musavat, a popular opposition daily in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.

On the evening of Sunday, May 4, a group of nearly 30 men attacked the newspaper’s offices, destroying furniture, windows, and telephone equipment.

The perpetrators also assaulted four Yeni Musavat journalists, including deputy editor-in-chief Gabil Abbasoglu. The journalists suffered only minor injuries and were able to work today.
May 5, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Kremlin presses Estonia to shut down Chechen Web site

New York, May 1, 2003—Russian government officials have been pressing Estonian authorities to shut down the pro-independence Chechen Web site KavkazCenter (www.kavkazcenter.com) for more than a week, according to local and international press reports.

Sergei Yastrezhembsky, an advisor to President Vladimir Putin, warned last week that, “Countries which aspire to partnership and mutually advantageous relations with the Russian Federation should bear in mind Russia’s categorical objection to the hosting of information resources on behalf of Chechen separatists,” the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
May 1, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Armenia

Local journalist violently attacked

New York, April 30, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday’s violent attack against Mger Galechian, a journalist with the opposition newspaper Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, which is based in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

According to Armenian and Russian news reports, two men came to the newspaper’s offices on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 29, and brutally assaulted Galechian, who sustained head injuries and remains hospitalized.
April 30, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Head of Russian television station shot dead

New York, April 18, 2003—Russian journalist Dmitry Shvets, head of the independent television station TV-21 Northwestern Broadcasting in the northern Russian city of Murmansk, was shot dead today outside of the station’s offices. The motive is unclear.

Police have launched an investigation, but no details were available. CPJ will continue to monitor the case.




April 18, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Georgia

Popular radio station attacked

New York, April 14, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has recently learned about an attack on Dzveli Kalaki, a popular independent radio station in Kutaisi, a city in eastern Georgia.

On the evening of March 28, four ax-wielding men charged to the roof of the building where Dzveli Kalaki's office is located and knocked the station's antenna to the ground. Although no one was injured, more than two weeks later, Dzveli Kalaki remains off the air, while trying to repair its antenna and transmitter.
April 14, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

National media outlets agree to curb reporting on terrorism

New York, April 11, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned about the “Anti-Terrorist Convention,” which was signed on Tuesday, April 8, by directors of several leading national broadcast media outlets, who agreed to accept voluntary restrictions on their coverage of terrorism and anti-terrorist government operations.

The media executives who signed the agreement (click here to see the full text) pledged to obtain official authorization before interviewing “terrorists” on the air live, ban journalists from acting as independent mediators during a crisis situation, be mindful of the “tone” of their coverage, and comply with a series of other restrictions.
April 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

Anti-Terrorist Convention


Anti-Terrorist Convention

Source: Interfax news agency


For purposes of supplying society with authentic information, the mass media have the right and duty of contributing to the open discussion of the problem of terrorism, informing society on the progress of counter-terrorist operations, carrying out investigations, and providing people with information on real problems and conflicts.

April 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Germany, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa

Attacks on the Press 2002: Preface

Many reporters find themselves in a dilemma when the press comes under attack. Our pride, our institutional and tribal loyalties, all clamor for a retort. We may be the bearers of bad tidings, but we are not their cause. If the truth is inimical to you, we want to argue, assailing us will not alter it. But then the reporter's half of the brain pipes up. Our instinct is (or should be) to stay out of the fray, to remain impartial, not to become part of the story. If we claim the right to question those in authority, why should our power, our institutions, our work be above challenge and criticism? Why should we demand special treatment? And who better knows the failings of the press than we do? Above all, if we have become the news, have we not failed in our primary task of covering the news? These conflicting instincts often make us reluctant to write about the travails of our trade.
March 31, 2003 12:10 PM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2002: Middle East and North Africa Analysis

The Arab world continues to lag behind the rest of the globe in civil and political rights, including press freedom. Despotic regimes of varying political shades regularly limit news that they think will undermine their power. Hopes that a new generation of leaders would tolerate criticism in the press have proved illusory, with many reforms rolled back in 2002. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been deadly for journalists and remains the dominant news story for local and Pan-Arab media, which have aggressively covered the fighting's violent twists and turns, winning influence in the Arab world and beyond.
March 31, 2003 12:10 PM ET

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  |   Albania

Attacks on the Press 2002: Albania

Despite some modest media-related reforms implemented by Parliament in 2002, Albania's contentious political scene and economic underdevelopment continue to make the country a relatively chaotic and difficult place for the independent press. Journalists face government harassment, criminal libel lawsuits, arbitrary dismissal by politicized owners, and limited access to basic government information, particularly when investigating official corruption and organized crime. Furthermore, low professional standards, an editorial emphasis on sensationalism, and the financial influence of political parties over many media outlets mean that journalists have little credibility with the public.
March 31, 2003 12:10 PM ET

  |   Armenia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Armenia

In the run-up to presidential elections scheduled for 2003, President Robert Kocharian, who is seeking another term, muzzled dissenting voices in the press and called for more compliant media coverage of government policies. As a result, journalists continued to face criminal prosecution, attacks, and censorship. Meanwhile, poor economic conditions drove some members of the press to ignore journalistic standards and sell their skills to the highest bidder--even if that meant being a mouthpiece for a powerful politician or businessman.
March 31, 2003 12:10 PM ET

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  |   Azerbaijan

Attacks on the Press 2002: Azerbaijan

Despite proclaiming a commitment to democracy and offering some financial aid to the beleaguered press, President Heydar Aliyev's relationship with the media remained tense in the run-up to presidential elections scheduled for October 2003. During 2002, independent and opposition outlets struggled to overcome official harassment and economic hardship, while the government passed flawed media legislation.
March 31, 2003 12:10 PM ET

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  |   Belarus

Attacks on the Press 2002: Belarus

In May 2002, CPJ named Belarus one of the world's 10 worst places to be a journalist, highlighting the stifling repression of Europe's most authoritarian regime. The rest of the year brought more bad news for the country's besieged but strong-willed private media, with President Aleksandr Lukashenko tightening his grip on power while the economy floundered. Using a broad arsenal of weapons, Lukashenko carried out an unprecedented assault against the independent and opposition press.
March 31, 2003 12:09 PM ET

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  |   Bosnia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina's lively media reported on numerous corruption and political scandals in 2002, from bomb threats against the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sarajevo, to the government's involvement in weapons sales to Iraq. The astonishing number of scandals reflected fragile government institutions and the existence of two ministates within the country: Republika Srpska and the Federation. Rampant lawlessness fostered widespread fraud, human trafficking, and drug smuggling. It also kept journalists there vulnerable to a broad array of harassment and abuses, including threatening phone calls and letters, politically motivated tax inspections, retaliatory lawsuits, and physical assaults.
March 31, 2003 12:09 PM ET

  |   Bulgaria

Attacks on the Press 2002: Bulgaria

During 2002, Bulgaria was invited to join NATO in 2004, but the European Union (EU) postponed Bulgaria's admission until 2007 at the earliest. The EU's decision reflected concern about the country's economic underdevelopment, rampant corruption, weak judiciary, and politicized Prosecutor General's Office. Bulgarian journalists, meanwhile, spent much of 2002 covering local drug gangs and police attempts to control them. Bulgaria, geographically situated in the southeastern Balkans, is a major drug smuggling route into Europe.
March 31, 2003 12:09 PM ET

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  |   Croatia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Croatia

The gradual stabilization of the western Balkans, combined with closer bilateral ties to neighboring Yugoslavia, encouraged some increased diversity in Croatia's media during 2002. On January 7, for example, national Croatian Radio Television (HRT) broadcast a Serbian Orthodox Christmas service for the first time since the country declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. In May, after an 11-year hiatus, Croatia's main newspaper distribution company, Tisak, began selling Serbian dailies and weeklies from Yugoslavia at newsstands again.
March 31, 2003 12:08 PM ET

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  |   Cyprus

Attacks on the Press 2002: Cyprus

Some 35,000 Turkish troops are stationed in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), founded after Turkey invaded the northern half of the Mediterranean island in 1974. The island remains divided into a more prosperous ethnic Greek sector in the south and an isolated and impoverished ethnic Turkish sector in the north. Cyprus' capital, Nicosia, is also divided in two, with one side controlled by the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot authorities and the other by the Turkish government.
March 31, 2003 12:08 PM ET

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  |   Georgia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Georgia

While corruption and crime continued to overrun Georgia in 2002, some officials blamed the country's woes on excessive press freedom, even accusing the media of contributing to the February suicide of Security Council chief Nugzar Sadzhaya. Public figures readily chastised the press for exposing inadequacies in President Eduard Shevardnadze's government. Shevardnadze himself publicly lamented past attacks on journalists, but the perpetrators of these crimes, which included violent assaults and assassinations, were not brought to justice.
March 31, 2003 12:07 PM ET

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  |   Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia

Attacks on the Press 2002: The Hague

December 11

Jonathan C. Randal, The Washington Post


The U.N. International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY) ruled to limit compelled testimony from war correspondents. The decision, announced at the tribunal's Appeals Chamber, came in response to the appeal by former Washington Post reporter Jonathan C. Randal, who had been subpoenaed to testify in the case of former Bosnian-Serb housing minister Radoslav Brdjanin, who is facing charges of genocide because of his alleged role in the persecution and expulsion of more than 100,000 non-Serbs during the Bosnian war. The subpoena against Randal was set aside, and he is no longer required to testify.
March 31, 2003 12:06 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, France, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2002: Israel and the Occupied Territories (Including the Palestinian Authority Territories)

While the press is largely free within Israel proper, the country's military assault on the Occupied Territories fueled a sharp deterioration in press freedom in the West Bank and Gaza during much of 2002. Despite vocal international protest, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) committed an assortment of press freedom abuses, ranging from banning press access in the West Bank to opening fire on journalists covering events.
March 31, 2003 12:05 PM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Attacks on the Press 2002: Ivory Coast

Hopes were high in July that Ivory Coast's political crisis would end after a judge in the capital, Abidjan, confirmed that former prime minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the leader of the opposition Rally for Republicans (RDR), is an Ivory Coast citizen.
March 31, 2003 12:05 PM ET

  |   Kazakhstan

Attacks on the Press 2002: Kazakhstan

Press freedom conditions deteriorated significantly ýn Kazakhstan during 2002. Direct criticism of the president, his family, and his associates is considered seditious, and the government's growing persecution of the media has increased self-censorship. Furthermore, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has consolidated his control over the airwaves and newsstands ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections, scheduled for 2004 and 2006, respectively.
March 31, 2003 12:05 PM ET

  |   Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Kyrgystan

Emboldened by the growing number of U.S. troops in the country, President Askar Akayev has used the threat of international terrorism as an excuse to curb political dissent and suppress the independent and opposition media in Kyrgyzstan. Compliant courts often issue exorbitant damage awards in politically motivated libel suits, driving even the country's most prominent newspapers to the brink of bankruptcy.
March 31, 2003 12:05 PM ET

  |   Macedonia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Macedonia

Lingering political instability, pervasive official corruption, and interethnic tension kept Macedonia on edge in 2002. Sporadic clashes between the Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian rebels continued despite a peace accord signed in August 2001 to end the country's short-lived civil war, which began in January 2001. As a result, independent journalism remains a tenuous and risky profession there.
March 31, 2003 12:04 PM ET

  |   Moldova

Attacks on the Press 2002: Moldova

Political instability and social unrest plagued Moldova in 2002, with disenfranchised groups struggling against the country's authoritarian president, Vladimir Voronin, and his ruling Communist Party. The country's small and beleaguered nonstate media suffered from the feeble economy and official harassment, while state print and broadcast media endured heavy-handed censorship.
March 31, 2003 12:04 PM ET

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  |   Romania

Attacks on the Press 2002: Romania

Government officials, wary of any media coverage that could potentially threaten the country's efforts to join NATO and the European Union, used threats and intimidation to promote docile reporting--resulting in increased self-censorship in 2002.
March 31, 2003 12:03 PM ET

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  |   Russia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Russia

Russian president Vladimir Putin, along with his coterie of conservative former intelligence officials, pressed ahead in 2002 to impose his vision of a "dictatorship of the law" in Russia to create a "managed democracy." Putin's goal of an obedient and patriotic press meant that the Kremlin continued using various branches of the state apparatus to rein in the independent media.

  |   Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Slovenia

Press freedom is generally respected in Slovenia, but journalists investigating sensitive issues continue to face occasional intimidation or pressure in retaliation for their coverage.
March 31, 2003 12:02 PM ET

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  |   Tajikistan

Attacks on the Press 2002: Tajikistan

The devastating legacy of the civil war (1992-1997) between President Imomali Rakhmonov's government and various opposition parties for control over the country continued to haunt the Tajik media in 2002. Because of widespread poverty--a result of the war and a subsequent string of natural disasters--reporters often work in run-down offices with outdated equipment. Only a small fraction of the population can access or afford the Internet. Moreover, the media community remains small, since many of the country's leading journalists either fled during the civil war or perished in it. (Tens of thousands died during the conflict, including at least 24 journalists.) Scarred by the violent murders of their colleagues, many journalists heavily censor themselves to avoid retribution. And the government's failure to effectively investigate cases of murdered journalists only deepens the press' sense of insecurity.
March 31, 2003 12:01 PM ET

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  |   Turkey

Attacks on the Press 2002: Turkey

In November, the Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party won parliamentary elections in Turkey. The new prime minister, Abdullah Gul, and influential party head Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed that joining the European Union would be a top government priority. To that end, they promised greater democratic reform, including an easing of long-standing restrictions on freedom of expression that remain in place despite changes implemented by the outgoing government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.
March 31, 2003 12:01 PM ET

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  |   Turkmenistan

Attacks on the Press 2002: Turkmenistan

The magnitude of President Saparmurat Niyazov's cult of personality might even astonish the Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin. A golden statue in Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, honors Niyazov, who is called "Turkmenbashi," or "the Father of All Turkmen," and his portrait graces the country's currency. In 2002, Niyazov's birthday was declared a national holiday, and he renamed the months of the year, dubbing January "Turkmenbashi" in his own honor.
March 31, 2003 12:01 PM ET

  |   Ukraine

Attacks on the Press 2002: Ukraine

During 2002, President Leonid Kuchma's relationship with the United States hit an all-time low over suspicions that he sold a sophisticated radar system to Iraq. At home, his presidency was threatened by court rulings that opened a criminal case against him (and that were later overturned) for alleged involvement in the 2000 murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze. Increasingly isolated, Kuchma lashed out at critics in the press.

  |   Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia

Attacks on the Press 2002: United Kingdom

Press freedom is generally respected in the United Kingdom, but CPJ was alarmed by a legal case in which Interbrew, a Belgium-based brewing group, and the British Financial Services Authority (FSA), a banking and investment watchdog agency, demanded that several U.K. media outlets turn over documents that had been leaked to them. The case threatened to erode the media's ability to protect sources, and to deter whistle-blowers from talking with the press.
March 31, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe

Attacks on the Press 2002: United States

The U.S. government took aggressive measures in 2002 to shield some of its activities from press scrutiny. These steps not only reduced access for U.S. reporters but had a global ripple effect, with autocratic leaders citing U.S. government actions to justify repressive policies.
March 31, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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  |   Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press 2002: Uzbekistan

Increased international aid and the presence of U.S. troops who use Uzbekistan as a base for the "war on terror" inspired President Islam Karimov to pay lip service to press freedom. With much fanfare, Karimov's government ended prior censorship of newspapers--one of the few systems in the world that required papers to submit copy to censors in advance of publication. Yet the change was almost completely undermined when the government subsequently pressured editors to censor articles themselves. Some papers even hired the state's former censors to minimize the risk of publishing anything that might be deemed offensive.
March 31, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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  |   Yugoslavia

Attacks on the Press 2002: Yugoslavia

During 2002, the intense political and personal rivalry between Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica, a conservative nationalist, and Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, a pragmatic reformist, consumed politics in Serbia, the dominant republic in the Yugoslav federation. The conflict, which stalled government reforms, was further complicated
by negotiations between the two Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro on transforming the Yugoslav federation into a union of two sovereign states. The possibility that the Yugoslav presidency would no longer exist forced Kostunica to run for the Serbian presidency in the fall against a Djindjic ally, Miroslav Labus. Voter apathy was so high that neither candidate garnered more than 50 percent of the electorate, leaving the presidency empty at year's end.
March 31, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Romania

Body of missing journalist found

New York, March 28, 2003— The body of Iosif Costinas, a 62-year-old journalist for the independent daily Timisoara, was discovered last week by police in a forest in western Romania. Costinas disappeared in June 2002.

Police spokesman Cornel Iures said the journalist's remains were found near the village of Pischia, 16 miles northeast of the western Romanian city of Timisoara, where Costinas had lived and worked prior to his disappearance, The Associated Press reported.
March 28, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Court convicts suspects in firebombing of opposition weekly

New York, March 28, 2003—The Medeu district court in the southern Kazakh city of Almaty convicted two men this week of setting fire to an opposition newspaper's offices last May.

The court sentenced Meirbek Uristenbekov and Mukhitdin Abdualiyev to three years in prison and ordered them to pay a total of 952,000 tenge (US$6,270) in damages to Muratbek Ketebayev, the newspaper's publisher, and 46,000 tenge (US$303) in legal fees to the court.
March 28, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Serbia

Prosecutor in journalist's murder case suspended

New York, March 26, 2003—Sinisa Simic, the public prosecutor responsible for the stalled investigation into the April 1999 assassination of Dnevni Telegraf editor-in-chief Slavko Curuvija, has been temporarily suspended of his duties, according to local press reports.

Serbia's acting president Natasa Micic ordered the suspension on Friday, March 21, amid a government crackdown on judges and prosecutors with suspected links to members of the powerful Zemun mafia clan that allegedly orchestrated the March 12 assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
March 26, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Czech Republic

Intelligence official confirms Iraqi threat against RFE/RL

New York, March 26, 2003--A senior Czech intelligence official alleged today that Iraqi agents planned to carry out an attack against the Prague-based headquarters of U.S. government­funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Jiri Ruzek, director of the State Security Service (BIS), told the Czech Service of the BBC in an interview today that the purpose of the attacks was to terminate the broadcasts of Radio Free Iraq, RFE/RL's Arabic-language service broadcasting news into Iraq.
March 26, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Belarus

Court grants parole to imprisoned journalist

New York, March 24, 2003—A Zhlobin district court in eastern Belarus granted parole on Friday, March 21, to Paval Mazheika, a journalist with the independent newspaper Pahonya. The journalist was released immediately and traveled to his home in Hrodna, in the western part of the country.

Mazheika, who had served half of his one-year prison sentence in a corrective facility in the city of Zhlobin, was granted parole on good behavior. If he receives two parole violations, the journalist can be sent back to prison.
March 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Letters   |   Serbia

CPJ concerned by media restrictions

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned about your government's enforcement of media restrictions under a state of emergency that has been in effect since the March 12 assassination of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic. Natasa Micic, president of the Serbian National Assembly and currently acting president...

March 21, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Georgia

Through “60 Minutes” the Criminal Underworld Has Started a War Against the Judicial System


Through “60 Minutes” the Criminal Underworld Has Started a War Against the Judicial System

Tbilisi-based state-owned daily newspaper
Sakartvelos Respublika (The Republic Of Georgia)
Number 63, Monday, March 10, 2003



The broadcasting company "Rustavi 2" recently started a new campaign of defamation and disinformation against the judiciary system. Systematic and unfounded accusations against the judicial system have taken a form of vivid blackmailing and pressure on the courts. These broadcasts shielded with the principles of the freedom of speech have become a tool of fulfilling ambitions and interests in the hands of specific persons. Moreover, each segment of the program, each comment and each analysis is derived of qualified, professional and legal assessment. Speculations and legal expertise of "law specialists" who are unknown to the public and do not even correspond to the level of a beginner in the field.

March 21, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Georgia

Supreme Court threatens independent TV station for exposing corruption

New York, March 21, 2003— The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned that the Georgian Supreme Court has published a statement requesting that the prosecutor general conduct a criminal inquiry into "60 Minutes," a biweekly investigative news program on the independent, Tbilisi-based television station Rustavi 2 in retaliation for its reporting on widespread corruption in the judiciary and police.
March 21, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Local television journalist brutally attacked

New York, March 19, 2003- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday's violent attack on Olga Kobzeva, a journalist with GTRK Don-TR television, a local branch of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

According to Russian sources, an unknown assailant wielding a broken bottle slashed the journalist's face on Tuesday evening, March 18, near her home when she was returning from work. None of her personal items were taken, the Russian information agency RIA Novosti reported.
March 19, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Local journalist violently attacked

New York, March 17, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the violent attack against Aleksandr Krutov, a journalist with the independent weekly newspaper Bogatei in the city of Saratov, in southern Russia.

According to Russian news reports, three unknown assailants attacked the journalist on the evening of Thursday, March 13, outside his home. One of the attackers hit Krutov in the head, knocking him to the ground, and the three beat him. The perpetrators fled the scene after snatching Krutov's briefcase.
March 17, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Serbia

Government imposes media restrictions following premier's assassination

New York, March 13, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned that under the state of emergency declared in Serbia on Wednesday, March 12, following the assassination that day of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, restrictions have been placed on the media.

Natasa Micic, president of the Serbian National Assembly and currently acting president of Serbia, declared a state of emergency yesterday afternoon after Djindjic was fatally shot by a sniper in the center of Serbia's capital, Belgrade.
March 13, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Court upholds journalist's prison sentence

New York, March 11, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is disappointed that today's decision by Kazakhstan's Almaty Regional Court in the city of Taldykorgan, north of Almaty, upheld the prison sentence of prominent independent journalist Sergei Duvanov.

On January 28, Almaty's Karasaisky District Court sentenced Duvanov to three-and-a-half years in prison for allegedly raping a minor. In addition, today's ruling changed the criminal code article under which Duvanov was convicted from rape (Article 120, part 1) to deliberate rape of a minor (Article 120, part 2)—a much more serious offense under Kazakh law, Yevgeny Zhovtis, a member of Duvanov's defense team, told CPJ.
March 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Uzbekistan

TWO RADIO JOURNALISTS ATTACKED AS POLICE WATCH

New York, March 10, 2003—Two Uzbek journalists working for U.S. government­funded radio stations were attacked by a group of men on Friday, March 7, while trying to cover an anti-government protest in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent.

According to local and international press reports, Khusnutddin Kutbiddinov, of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and Yusuf Rasulov, with Voice of America, arrived at the Chorsu bazaar in the center of Tashkent on Friday morning to report on a group of about 40 women protesting the detention and torture of their sons and husbands on charges of religious extremism.
March 10, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Letters   |   Serbia

Editor threatened for reporting on allegations against bishop

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned about threats made against Vukasin Obradovic, the owner and editor-in-chief of the Vranje-based weekly Novine Vranjske, and Goran Antic, a reporter with the publication, in retaliation for reporting allegations of sexual abuse made against Serbian Orthodox Bishop Pahomije. The bishop's...

March 10, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Belarus

Court amends imprisoned journalist's sentence

New York, March 7, 2003—A Belarusian court ruled on Tuesday, March 4, that jailed journalist Mikola Markevich, editor-in-chief of the independent weekly newspaper Pahonya, could serve the remainder of his sentence in his hometown of Hrodna, in western Belarus.

Markevich will be allowed to reside with his family, but he will now have to register with Hrodna law enforcement authorities and find employment. He is also obligated to give 15 percent of his earnings to the state and sign a pledge not to leave Hrodna's city limits.
March 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Armenia

Police arrest suspects in television chief's murder

New York, March 6, 2003—Armenian police yesterday arrested six suspects in the December 2002 murder of Tigran Nagdalian, the 36-year-old head of the state-owned Armenian Public Television. The police continue to look for other individuals linked to the crime.

Law enforcement authorities have not released the suspects' names or details of the crime, including the possible motive. But officials revealed that during the arrest they found and confiscated the handgun used to kill Nagdalian.
March 6, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Suspect charged with threatening journalist is cleared

New York, March 5, 2003—A suspect accused of issuing death threats against Anna Politkovskaya, a correspondent with the Moscow-based twice weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was cleared of the criminal charge against him yesterday. Politkovskaya is well known in Russia for her investigative reports on human rights abuses committed by the Russian military in Chechnya.

The prosecutor’s office in the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk dropped the criminal charge against Sergei Lapin, a Russian officer nicknamed "Kadet," citing evidence that another individual, who died in 2002, issued the threats and signed Lapin’s nickname to them.
March 5, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Letters   |   Russia

CPJ concerned about government’s attempts to control coverage of conflict in Chechnya

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is extremely concerned about an official warning issued by the Russian Media Ministry on Wednesday, February 26, to the Moscow-based communist, ultra-nationalist weekly Zavtra. This warning, which followed the publication of an interview with exiled Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, is the...

March 5, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Croatia

PUBLISHER'S CAR IS BOMBED Attack linked to reporting on mafia

New York, March 3, 2003—A bomb destroyed the vehicle of Nino Pavic, an influential independent newspaper publisher, on the morning of Saturday, March 1, in Croatia's capital, Zagreb.

According to local and international press reports, the 50-year-old publisher and his family were sleeping in their home in the affluent suburb of Tuskanac when a bomb placed under their Mercedes SUV exploded at around 4 a.m. The car was parked down the street from their house.
March 3, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

Chechen journalist beaten and detained by Interior Ministry troops

New York, February 28, 2003—Zamid Ayubov, a 40-year-old Chechen journalist for the local pro-Russian administration's thrice-weekly Vozrozhdeniye Chechni, was beaten and detained by Interior Ministry forces in the Chechen capitol of Grozny on the evening of February 16.

Ayubov was assaulted when he approached an Interior Ministry unit and identified himself as a journalist researching an article about Interior Ministry units conducting night patrols in Grozny, according to Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language service of the U.S. government­funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
February 28, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Letters   |   Azerbaijan

CPJ concerned about journalist facing criminal prosecution

Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about two libel lawsuits that have been filed by a senior government official against Elmar Huseynov, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Baku-based, independent magazine Monitor. These lawsuits are the latest actions in a 7-year-old campaign of official harassment...

February 27, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Spain

Basque daily closed over alleged ETA links

February 23, 2003Euskaldunon Egunkaria, a Basque daily based in the northern Spanish town of Andaoin, was closed by government authorities on Thursday, February 20, because of alleged links to the armed separatist group ETA.

The paper reappeared on newsstands the next day under the new name Egunkaria.

Hundreds of Civil Guard police officers raided the offices of Euskaldunon Egunkaria and the homes of its senior staff throughout the Basque region of northern Spain last Thursday after a court ordered the paper's closure.
February 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Ukraine

CPJ concerned about alleged death threat against editor

New York, February 19, 2003—Vira Kytaihorodska, editor-in-chief of the twice-weekly newspaper Bukovynske Viche in the western city of Chernivtsi, said that a local government official has threatened to kill her for republishing an article on February 7 that accused Chernivtsi regional governor Teofil Bauer of corruption and violating customs regulations.

The official, deputy head of the Chernivtsi Regional Council, Ivan Muntian, told CPJ that he did not threaten Kytaihorodska. He said that he called the editor to ask why she had reprinted the article without fact-checking the claims made in it.
February 19, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Croatia

PUBLISHER'S CAR IS BOMBEDAttack linked to reporting on mafia

New York, March 3, 2003—A bomb destroyed the vehicle of Nino Pavic, an influential independent newspaper publisher, on the morning of Saturday, March 1, in Croatia's capital, Zagreb.

According to local and international press reports, the 50-year-old publisher and his family were sleeping in their home in the affluent suburb of Tuskanac when a bomb placed under their Mercedes SUV exploded at around 4 a.m. The car was parked down the street from their house.
February 3, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Independent journalist sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison

New York, January 30, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is disappointed by the prison term handed down on January 28 to prominent independent journalist Sergei Duvanov by the Karasaisky District Court in the southern city of Almaty.

The court sentenced Duvanov to three-and-a-half years in prison for allegedly raping a minor. Duvanov's colleagues and defense attorneys maintain that the journalist is innocent, and that Kazakh authorities fabricated the case against him to muzzle a critical voice. Duvanov, who turned 50 years old yesterday, is known for his criticism of Kazakh officials, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
January 30, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Russia

CPJ welcomes Grigory Pasko's release

New York, January 23, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes today's decision by a court in the city of Ussuriisk, in the Russian Far East, to grant parole to military journalist Grigory Pasko. The journalist was released immediately and traveled to his home in Vladivostok.

Under Russian law, Pasko, who had served two-thirds of his four-year prison sentence, was eligible for parole based on good behavior. State prosecutors are contemplating protesting the parole decision, Russian and international news reported.
January 23, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Alerts   |   Colombia, Russia

Lowest number on record; Russia, Colombia, and the West Bank top list

New York, January 2, 2003—A total of 19 journalists were killed worldwide for their work in 2002, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). This number marks a sharp decrease from 2001 when 37 journalists were killed, eight of them while covering the war in Afghanistan. Of the 19 journalists killed in 2002, most were targeted in direct reprisal for their work, and their killers had not been brought to justice at year's end.
January 2, 2003 12:00 PM ET

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