IN 2017

Latest threats to media freedom

 

Home of Novaya Gazeta journalist attacked with noxious gas

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Year 21 Jul 2017 Country Russian Federation Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , CPJ Alert level Level 1
21 Jul 2017 Russian Federation A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown Index , CPJ Level 1
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The home of Yulia Latynina, a prominent columnist and contributor to independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and radio station Echo Moskvy, was sprayed with noxious gas on 19 July. She and her parents noticed a strong smell of an “unknown caustic gas” in her house near Moscow. She claimed her and the neighbours’ house was “full of unknown disgusting gas impeding our breathing”. Later it was established that the gas was sprayed over the windows and doors of the whole house. She reported that eight people including her parents and neighbours’ children were poisoned, saying it irritated eyes and upset stomachs. The neighbours said they witnessed an unidentified car driving away quickly from the house afterwards. Latynina said she is convinced the attack is related to her professional activities, but has decided not to file a report with the police. The editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Dmitri Muratov filed a complaint to the chief of the Public Council with the Ministry of Interior Anatoli Kucherena, who promised to investigate the case. In August 2016, unidentified individuals threw faeces over Latynina in the centre of Moscow. She connected the assault with her publications into Evgeni Prigozhin, alleged ally of the Russian President.

Failure to Punish the Perpetrators of Attack on Journalists in Berdyansk

Update: 21 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 30 Mar 2017 Country Ukraine Category D. Impunity Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ Alert level Level 1
30 Mar 2017 Ukraine D. Impunity State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ Level 1

TV journalist Volodymyr Holovatiy and his cameraman were attacked on 10 June 2016 in Berdyansk, Zaporizhia region. The attack, according to the journalists, happened in full view of police officers who failed to intervene. The local TV crew, had gone to cover the seizure of a hotel building in a commercial dispute, when unidentified men in military uniform attacked them, took away the camera and seized the memory card from the cameraman. The two were admitted to the hospital for treatment, where doctors diagnosed a brain contusion in the case of Volodymyr Holovatiy. The journalist filed a complaint with the local branch of the National Police. The case is investigated by Berdyansk City District Prosecutor's Office. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine considers this case as a major impunity case. To date, the crime remains unpunished and no one has been arrested in connection with this assault.

State replies

New 21 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Journalist Pavel Sheremet Killed in Car Explosion

Update: 20 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 20 Jul 2016 Country Ukraine Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
20 Jul 2016 Ukraine A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown Index , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

Pavel Sheremet, a journalist working for online investigative newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda and Radio Vesti, was killed in a car explosion on Wednesday 20 July 2016. According to Ukrayinska Pravda, the car blew up on the corner of Khmelnytsky and Franko streets in Kyiv. This car belonged to Olena Prytula, editor at Ukrayinska Pravda, but she wasn’t in the car at the time. According to Radio Vesti's website, the journalist was heading to the radio's office to host his morning show when the car exploded. Pavel Sheremet, 44, was a Belarusian journalist and TV host who was imprisoned by the government of Belarus in 1997 and has been working outside of Belarus for a long time. He previously worked in Russia as TV host and journalist before moving to Kyiv around five years ago.

Updates

New 13 Jul 2017 : On 11 July, during a meeting with Sheremet's family and a CPJ delegation, Ukrainian President Poroshenko proposed adding an internationally recognized investigator to the team inquiring into Sheremet`s killing.

State replies

14 Feb 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

New 20 Jul 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative urges authorities in Ukraine and other OSCE participating States to end impunity for murders of journalists.
05 Aug 2016 : Statement by Marina Kaljurand, Chair of the Committee of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia
21 Jul 2016 : OSCE Representative condemns murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet in Ukraine
21 Jul 2016 : The Secretary General of the Council of Europe strongly condemns the appalling murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet and calls on the Ukrainian authorities and law-enforcement agencies to quickly and effectively investigate this crime.

Israeli-Russian Blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to Be Tried in Azerbaijan

Update: 20 Jul 2017 No reply yet
Year 07 Mar 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner CPJ , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
07 Mar 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State CPJ , AEJ , Index Level 1
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Aleksandr Lapshin, an Israeli-Russian travel blogger, was detained in Minsk, Belarus, on 15 December 2016, at the request from Azerbaijan and extradited to Baku on 7 February 2017. Lapshin faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison on charges of illegally crossing Azerbaijan's state borders during his April 2011, October 2012, and June 2016 visits to Nagorno-Karabakh, and for making "anti-state calls to the public" and criticizing Azerbaijani policies. Currently, Alexander Lapshin is in the Kurdakhani Pre-trial Detention Centre of the Baku Investigative Prison Nr 1.

Updates

New 20 Jul 2017 : On 20 July, Aleksandr Lapshin was sentenced to 3 years in prison by the Baku Court of Grave Crimes.

Vesti’s Media Office in Kyiv Raided by National Police and Military Prosecutors

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Year 19 Jul 2017 Country Ukraine Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index Alert level Level 2
19 Jul 2017 Ukraine C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index Level 2
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On July 14, the prosecutors General’s office and the national police searched the offices of Ukraine’s Vesti media group in Kyiv which includes Radio Vesti, the daily newspaper Vesti, and the news website Vesti-ukr.com. The raid was conducted as part of an embezzlement investigation against ex-Tax and Revenue Minister Oleksandr Klymenko. The area was cordoned and special police units and armored vehicles surrounded the building. Police officers completely obstructed the work of the editorial board. Chair of the Board of Directors of Media Holding Vesti Ukraine, Olga Semchenko, explained on a Facebook post that the radio station's live broadcast was interrupted during operation and that authorities rounded up 30 journalists in a room in order to question them and search their mobile phones. According to Olga Semchenko, the searches are in retaliation from the Prosecutor’s office for a Vesti investigation into Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matio’s income and expenses, titled “Who is Mr. Matios? What the Chief Military Prosecutor conceals”. “Government pressure is not new to us, but we haven’t seen such a major special operation yet,” she said. Vesti’s offices have already been subjected to several attacks since 2014 and more recently in February 2017 the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine revoked the license of the Ukrainian broadcasting company “Radio Vesti” in Kharkiv city and Kyiv.

Ukrainian Journalist Missing in Donbass

Update: 19 Jul 2017 No reply yet
Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Ukraine Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Ukraine B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 1
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Ukrainian journalist Stanyslav Aseev went missing in the Donbass region on 3 June 2017. Since then, the journalist has not been answering phone calls, his apartment in Donetsk has been ransacked and his professional laptop has gone missing, his family and friends told the media. They fear the journalist has been detained by representatives of the so called “Ministry of State Security” of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic". Reports said that Aseev went missing on the day he was expected to send material to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which showed life in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and never arrived. Aseev has been working under the pen name of Stanyslav Vasin since 2014 and has been reporting from Donetsk for Radio Svoboda, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinska Pravda and Ukrainian Week. On 20 June, representatives from the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) expressed their deep concern for the safety and fate of Stanyslav Aseev and called for his immediate release.

Updates

New 19 Jul 2017 : On July 15, it was reported to independent broadcaster Hromadske Radio that Aseev has been detained by separatists. Yegor Firsov, a friend of Aseev and a former Ukrainian lawmaker, stated that the separatists have charged the journalist with espionage and that, if convicted, Aseev could be jailed for up to 14 years.

Polish Journalist Receives Death Threats After Public Polish TV Classifies Her Remarks As “Harmful to Poland”

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Year 18 Jul 2017 Country Poland Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 1
18 Jul 2017 Poland C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 1
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Dorota Bawolek, a Polish journalist working in Brussels for Polish private TV channel Polsat TV, was targeted by hundreds of hateful messages on social media after the Polish public TV station TVP reproached her of having asked the European Commission an “upsetting” question on Thursday 13 July 2017. That Thursday, during the daily press conference of the European Commission in Brussels, Dorota Bawolek asked for explications on the state of democracy in Poland. On that same day, the Polish Parliament had adopted a draft law that would weaken the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and of the Supreme Court in particular. Noticing that the Commission was more inclined to comment on the issues concerning the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, Dorota Bawolek burst out: “You`d rather talk about a country that is leaving the European Union than about one that is still a member and that, if you refuse to commentate on what is happening, will also be at risk of leaving”. Following her remarks, TVP broadcast a report equating Dorota Bawolek`s attitude to “provocation”. The segment was then widely shared on social media, where the journalist was called a “traitor”, a “prostitute” and an “anti-Polish manipulator”, with some going as far as suggesting “shaving her head” or “hanging her”. Polsat TV has been called a “traitor of the Polish nation”. Some internet users have called for its immediate closure and for the establishment of a list of “traitors”. Faced with this outpouring of hate, the Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, expressed his indignation: “These are completely unacceptable threats, we have a duty of care toward all journalists accredited to the European Union”.

Journalist Detained When Crossing Border Following Travel Ban

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Year 17 Jul 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index Alert level Level 2
17 Jul 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index Level 2
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Journalist Kamran Mahmudov was detained when crossing the Azerbaijan-Georgia border on 22 June, 2017. The journalist was first informed he was on the wanted list, but was later told he was under a travel ban. Mahmudov's travel ban began in April, according to the Gazakh police department. The ban was introduced by the Interior Ministry. The journalist was released after several hours in detention in Gazakh. In an interview with Azadliq Radio, Mahmudov said he had travelled to many countries over the last two years and was never told about being under a travel ban. Mahmudov is a former employee of Azadliq Radio and Kanal 13.

Ukraine Blocks Russian Social Networks and Expands Economic Sanctions Against Russian Companies

Update: 17 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 23 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
23 May 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

On 15 May 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued Presidential Decree 133 which imposes sanctions on 1228 individuals and 468 legal entities based in Russia, the occupied Crimea, and non-government controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Among the entities affected are some of the largest Russian-owned Internet companies and social networks, including Yandex, Mail.ru, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki. According to the decree, Ukrainian internet service providers will be required to block access to these sites for a period of three years. The websites blocked by the Presidential decree are in the top ten most popular websites in Ukraine. According to statistics provided by SimilarWeb, 17.55% of unique visits to VKontakte and 15.15% to Odnoklassniki come from within Ukraine. Yandex.ua, a search provider and e-mail client and the fifth largest website in Ukraine, received 215 million visits over the past six months. The statistics also show that more than 50% of Ukrainians use Vkontakte. The decree also lists and updates the sanctions, asset freezes and broadcast bans imposed on the Russian TV channels and adds the Russian-based RBC TV to the sanctions list. A number of human rights organisations called the decree a disproportionate measure restricting access to information but Ukrainian officials have defended the measure as a matter of national security, given that the country is a victim of disinformation, propaganda campaigns and cyber-attacks, which use the data on Ukrainian users stored on the Russian social networks.

State replies

New 17 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Azerbaijan Offers Journalists Free Apartments

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Year 17 Jul 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
17 Jul 2017 Azerbaijan E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2
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The State Fund for the “Support of Mass Media Development in Azerbaijan” will provide to journalists free government housing grants on 22 July 2017, National Press Day in Azerbaijan. A first “Journalists’ House” built in the Bibiheybat settlement of Baku by state budget funds was commissioned in 2013. A total of 156 journalists were allotted apartments there. The second “Journalists’ House” will host 255 journalists. The apartments will be distributed on 22 July. Broadcasting companies were allowed to nominate up to 10 candidates; daily newspapers and news agencies up to six candidates; weekly publications, news portals and websites up to three candidates. Several media representatives and journalists strongly criticized this State initiative: they believe that journalists who are granted apartments for free will fall under the government’s control.

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