Tag Archives: freedom

EU reacts on attack on Russian opposition blogger

The attack on Russian opposition blogger Yegor Zhukov, 22, did not pass unnoticed by the European diplomacy: «We wish Mister Zhukov a speedy recovery, and expect the reponsible for this brutal and coward attack will be brought to justice» the European External Action Service spokesperson said during the daily conference with Brussels press corps.
He added that on many occassion the EU proposed the resumption of the intrrupted human righs dialog, however it was rejected by the Russian counterparts.

On Sunday evening, August 30, Russian opposition blogger Yegor Zhukov has been attacked and severly beaten by two unknown by him individuals. His supporters posted a photo on Facebook of his bloodied and swollen face, later he was trasported to a hosptial to examin his head injuries. The attack happened near his home.

Shortly before the violent incident Zhukov informed via his YouTube channel that he had been rejected for a master’s course on cinematography at Moscow’s prestigious Higher School of Economics, after initially being accepted for it. He linked that rejection to this political activity.

Separately, Mr Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said he was against linking the attack on Zhukov to the suspected poisoning of Russia’s most famous campaigner against President Vladimir Putin, the investigative blogger Alexei Navalny.

“This is a handsome guy Yegor Zhukov, a journalist of Echo.
He was beaten in front of his own entrance. Hardly by mistake. Now, apparently, opposition representatives can be poisoned, beaten, tortured. It is not yet allowed to burn on bonfires, I wonder?” Wrties on his Twitter Russian opposition politician Gennady Goudkov.

The first blow came from behind, to the back of the head, after which Yegor fell and they have beaten him mostly on the ground and aimed at the head, for 20-30 seconds. There are practically no injuries on other parts of the body, and the head and face are broken”, Yegor Zhukov lawyer Murad Musaev said. “The police officers took up this case quite actively and yesterday, practically all night long, various operational and investigative actions were carried out. We hope that the subject of a criminal investigation in this case will be not only yesterday’s attack, but also the attempted attack on July 24 this year,” he added.

EU expects Belarus to release journalists

«Belarus: the EU expects from authorities the immediate and unconditional release of detained journalists, along with ALL peaceful protesters. Let media do their jobs without intimidation. A FreePress is crucial to the democracy demanded by the people of Belarusé» the European External Action Service spokesperson wrote on his Twitter micro blog. (Image above: social media).

Belarusian police detained at least 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on August 27 and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, and other filming equipment Reuters news agency reported.

The interior ministry later on the same day said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check if they had valid accreditation allowing them to exercise their profession.

The authorities explained that all those with official accreditation would be released.

There were numerious reports about the detention of press by riot police, however so far the situation of jounralists remains unclear.

Azerbaijan blocks OSCE representative mandate

Harlem Désir, an influential figure who has worked fearlessly for the protection of the free press, will no longer serve as Representative on Freedom of the Media at OSCE after Azerbaijan and Tajikistan blocked the renewal of his mandate.

For the past three years Désir has been an outspoken representative at the OSCE (Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe). Nowadays his reappointment has been blocked by two of the worst-scoring countries in terms of world press freedom.

International press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this was the most disruptive behaviour yet from Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

“The work of the Representative on Freedom of Media is absolutely crucial to the protection of media freedom across the OSCE’s 57 Member States, especially in the worst offenders, including the two States that have now blocked Harlem Désir’s reappointment. They can now effectively evade OSCE scrutiny,” RSF’s Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent, said.

The blocking of Désir candidacy by the two OSCE participating states raises the question of whether countries with a dramatic record of undermining free press should be allowed to have such power in international fora.

“Azerbaijan has form for this, having behaved similarly disruptively at the Council of Europe for years. How long will these institutions allow themselves to be hijacked by States that don’t share their values?” RSF added.

Russian journalist Prokopyeva fine «unjustified»

“On Monday 6 July, a Russian court found prominent journalist, Ms Svetlana Prokopyeva, guilty on charges of justifying terrorism after having stated in a radio programme that a terrorist attack at an FSB building was linked to the social and political situation in Russia, and that the incident was a result of the State’s ongoing restrictions on political and civil liberties. She has been ordered to pay a substantial fine, which we consider unjustified” reads the statement by a spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the sentencing of journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva in Russia.

“The prosecution of Ms Prokopyeva is testimony to the ever-shrinking space for independent journalism and civil society in the Russian Federation over recent years. Incidents of intimidation, threats and violence against journalists are frequently reported, while the fundamental freedoms of expression and freedom of the media in the country are repressed and severely curtailed, including through politically-motivated arrests and court proceedings such as the one against Ms Prokopyeva. Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democratic societies, which can thrive only if citizens have access to reliable information and can make informed choices. We expect the Russian Federation to uphold its international and domestic obligations and ensure that journalists are able to work in a safe environment without fear of reprisal”.

“The EU reaffirms its determination to defend press and media freedom, as well as all human rights, within its borders and worldwide”.

Assange detention degrades UK press freedom

The UK has dropped two places to 35th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF’s) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published today. Although the UK government played a key role in promoting media freedom globally, its efforts were undermined by domestic developments, including the murder of Lyra McKee and active threats to the safety of journalists in Northern Ireland, and the detention of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who faces possible extradition to the US.

The sentencing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to a disproportionate jail term of 50 weeks for breaking bail also marred the UK’s press freedom record in 2019, as did the Home Office’s decision to green light the US extradition request. Assange remained in custody at the high security Belmarsh Prison despite widespread international concern for his health and safety, including by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

“With coronavirus and other converging crises presenting unprecedented threats to press freedom globally, it is more important than ever for democratic states to lead by example. The UK should be performing better on the World Press Freedom Index, and must address these domestic concerns as a matter of priority. Concrete steps should be taken to ensure the safety of journalists in the wake of Lyra McKee’s murder, and Julian Assange should be released – and certainly not extradited to the US”, said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.

RSF also noted concern over problematic provisions of counter-terrorism and crime legislation adopted in 2019, as well as the pursuit by the London Metropolitan Police of the publication of leaked information from diplomatic cables as a criminal matter.

The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country and region. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country or region.

Turkey Radio Sputnik crew harassment

Late evening February 29, three Sputnik employees in Ankara were attacked at their homes, with organized groups attempting to break down the front door, threatening and calling the agency staffers “traitors” and “Russian spies”, Sputnik site informs. (Image: illustration).

Turkish police have detained the editor-in-chief of Sputnik Turkey in Istanbul.

Earlier, Sputnik Turkey said it was unable to reach three employees for nine hours; contact was lost after they went to the police to report a raid on their homes, Sputnik and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan wrote on Telegram page.

The Turkish state news agency Anadolu has characterised the weekend attacks on Sputnik staff members as a “protest.”

The agency claimed that police had launched an investigation into the incidents.

The harresment on Sputnik crew in Ankara occurred at about 10:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, with groups of at least 10 individuals, attempting to break down apartment doors and storm the homes of the journalists.

Police came to our office in Istanbul. One more employee is detained. Three more ours from yesterday in the police in Ankara, where the nationalists broke into their apartments the night before. Turkey, what is this ???” Simonyan wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

EU-OSCE against Russia «foreign agent» law

“The State Duma of the Russian Federation this week passed, in the third and final reading, a legislative act widening the scope of the already existing “foreign agent” media law, under which also individuals may be recognised as “foreign agents” says the statement of the European External Action Service spokesperson.

“The European Union has repeatedly said that the existing Russian legislation on labelling both NGOs and media outlets as “foreign agents” imposes additional administrative and financial burden as well as stigmatises the media or NGO concerned, thus restricting the exercise of fundamental freedoms. This practice clearly goes against Russia’s human rights obligations and commitments.

“Taking into account the already limited space for free media in the country, a further extension of the scope of the legislation is yet another worrying step against free and independent media and access to information as well as further attempt to silence independent voices in Russia.

“We support the call by OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media for Russian lawmakers to abandon the law”.

Image above: Moscow, Russia

EU supports Jehovah’s Witnesses freedom of religion

“The decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to ban the activities of the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia on grounds of “extremism” could make it possible to launch criminal prosecutions against Jehovah’s Witnesses for mere acts of worship,” – says the statement of the European External Action Service  (EEAS).

“Jehovah’s Witnesses, like all other religious groups, must be able to peacefully enjoy freedom of assembly without interference, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as by Russia’s international commitments and international human rights standards.”

“The European Union continues to promote freedom of religion or belief as a right to be exercised by everyone everywhere, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality.”