Europe & Central Asia

2003

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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2003

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