Europe & Central Asia


Alerts   |   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


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


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


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


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