Tag Archives: journalism

Borrell demands release of Protasevich

Brussels 24.05.2021 Belarus: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021:

“On 23 May, the Belarusian authorities, in an inadmissible step, forced a civilian plane to perform an emergency landing in Minsk. The plane, owned by an EU company, flying between two EU capitals and carrying more than 100 passengers, was forced to land by a Belarusian military aircraft.

“One of the flight passengers, Mr Raman Pratasevich, an independent journalist from Belarus, was retained by the Belarusian authorities and prevented from boarding the plane at the Minsk airport to its original destination. This is yet another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all opposition voices.

“We call for the immediate release of Mr Pratasevich.

“In carrying out this coercive act, the Belarusian authorities have jeopardised the safety of passengers and crew. An international investigation into this incident must be carried out to ascertain any breach of international aviation rules.

“This situation will be raised at the upcoming meeting of the European Council. The EU will consider the consequences of this action, including taking measures against those responsible”.

Opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, 26, was traveling by commercial airline from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, when the Belarusian air force landing by a fighter jet MiG29. The flight, on Irish airline Ryanair, was diverted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the millennial opposition figure was taken into custody.

Protasevich is a co-founder and a former editor of the NEXTA online channel on the social media platform Telegram, which has become a popular communication medium for Lukashenko’s opponents to share information and organise demonstrations against the government.

The journalist fled the Belarus in 2019, fearing arrest, and imprisonment, but he has continued to criticise Lukashenko’s regime while living in exile in Lithuania, so much so that he was charged in absentia with public disorder and social hatred in November last year.

As a teenager, Protasevich became a dissident, first drawing scrutiny from law enforcement. He was expelled from a prestigious school for participating in a protest rally in 2011 and later was expelled from the journalism program of the Minsk State University.

The government’s main security agency in Belarus, called the KGB, placed Protasevich’s name on a list of terrorists. If he is accused and convicted of terrorism, he could face the death penalty.

The charges of inciting public disorder and social hatred carry a punishment of more than 12 years in prison.

World Press Freedom Day

Brussels 03.05.2021 This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind. The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.

World Press Freedom Day- In 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of the violations of press freedom. It is a reminder that publications and social media are censored, fined, suspended, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked and even killed worldwide.

Mistrust in journalists at rise

Brussels 20.04.2021 The 2021 Edelman Trust barometer reveals a disturbing level of public mistrust of journalists, with 59% of respondents in 28 countries saying that journalists deliberately try to mislead the public by reporting information they know to be false. In reality, journalistic pluralism and rigorous reporting serve to combat disinformation and “infodemics”, including false and misleading information.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors. In response to the virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and via social media, journalism provides the most effective means of ensuring that public debate is based on a diverse range of established facts.”

The country that fell the furthest in 2021 was Malaysia (down 18 at 119th), where the problems include a recent “anti-fake news” decree allowing the government to impose its own version of the truth. Big descents were also registered by Comoros (down 9 at 84th) and El Salvador (down 8 at 82nd), where journalists have struggled to obtain state-held information about the government’s handling of the pandemic. Most of the 2021 Index’s biggest gains are in Africa. Burundi (up 13 at 147th), Sierra Leone (up 10 at 75th) and Mali (up 9 at 99th) have all seen significant improvements, including the release of four journalists with the independent Burundian media Iwacu, the repeal of a law criminalising press offences in Sierra Leone and a fall in the number of abuses in Mali.

Europe and the Americas (North, Central and South) continue to be the most favourable continents for press freedom, even though the Americas registered the biggest deterioration in its regional violations score (up 2.5%). Europe registered a sizeable deterioration in its “Abuses” indicator, with acts of violence more than doubling in the European Union and Balkans, compared with a 17% deterioration worldwide. Attacks against journalists and arbitrary arrests increased in Germany (13th), France (34th), Italy (41st), Poland (down 2 at 64th), Greece (down 5 at 70th), Serbia (93rd) and Bulgaria (down 1 at 112th).

Daphne Caruana Galizia PRIZE

Brussels 19.10.2020 The European Parliament has launched Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on anniversary of her murder commemorating the third time the assassination of the Maltese investigative journalist, the prize will reward journalism reflecting EU principles and values.

The purpose of the prize is to distinguish outstanding journalism that reflects the European Union’s principles and values, as enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights. The European Parliament considers that protecting press freedom around the world, and particularly that of investigative journalists whilst exercising their duties, is in the vital interest of democratic societies.

Even though the prize is initiated and supported by Parliament, it will be managed by an independent EU-based media partner in order to protect the independence of the prize and the work of the media.

The European Parliament will soon begin selecting an independent organisation to establish the detailed criteria for awarding the prize and decide on who will sit on the jury. A call for tender to select such an organisation will be launched before the end of 2020.

The call for nominees for the prize will be launched around 03 May 2021 – World Press Freedom Day. The annual award ceremony will take each year around the anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was killed in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017. She focused on investigative journalism, reporting on government corruption, allegations of money laundering and organised crime.

The launch took place online on Friday 16 October on the EP’s Facebook page. It was led by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala (Greens, FI), and MEP David Casa (EPP, MT). They were joined online by the murdered journalist’s son, Andrew Caruana Galizia, from Malta.

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.

Lavrov: journalist Vyshinky case “absurd”

Russian Minister of Foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov  reiterated Moscow demands of respect of his human rights and immediate liberation of journalist Kirill Vyshinky (pictured) arrested in Ukraine.

The trial in the case of the RIA Novosti Ukraine chief editor resembles the theater of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was arrested illegally, only because he worked for a Russian media outlet and honestly covered current developments. Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand it as they have been postponing hearings, citing the need to study the case files,Lavrov said to Aif newspaper.

Our diplomats maintain contacts with his lawyers as Ukraine failed to provide us with access to the journalist himself. We are doing our best, working with foreign partners, particularly on international platforms, encouraging them to influence Kiev so that a positive solution can be foundLavrov concluded.

Kiev’s Podolsky District Court postponed the hearing of the Vyshinsky case to July 19.

Vyshinsky was arrested in Kiev  by the Ukrainian Security Service  (SBU) on 15 May 2018.  Being under arrest, on On 1 June 2018, he said in court: “I declare my withdrawal from my Ukrainian citizenship — from this moment I consider myself only a citizen of Russia.”

Media attention to Putin at rise

A record number of journalists – 1,702 – have been accredited to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s traditional annual news conference due to take place on December 20, according to the Kremlin website which posted the final list of accredited journalists.

Press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier this year’s news conference had attracted increased interest, with the number of applications for accreditation at rise.

Applications were received from Russian journalists registered with the national mass media watchdog Roscomnadzor and from foreign press with the Russian foreign ministry (MFA) accreditation.

Putin on TV

 

 

End impunity for crimes against journalists!

“Democracy cannot live without free, diverse and independent media. Journalists and media actors across the globe hold states, government officials, corporations and society at large accountable for their actions. But far too many among them face threats and attacks simply for carrying out their work, while the perpetrators of these attacks often act with total impunity” says the Declaration by the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini on behalf of the bloc on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists – 2 November 2018.

“On this day, which has been proclaimed as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, by virtue of the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/163, we pay tribute to all those journalists around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks in the exercise of their profession. We also pay tribute to all those brave journalists who are taking up the work of their colleagues who can no longer pursue their investigations.

“The assassinations of investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak in the EU, demonstrate that no region of the world is immune to this. These despicable crimes need to be thoroughly investigated and prosecute, as it is the case for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. We have asked and expect that Saudi Arabia cooperates on a thorough, credible and transparent investigation and we insist on the need for clarity on the circumstances of his death and full accountability of all those responsible for it.

“There is in many countries a worrying tendency to erode and shrink the space for free journalism, often by putting indiscriminately in question the credibility of media to discredit and weaken their work. Journalists need an environment where they are able to work in safety and security, both online and offline, without fear of harassment, political pressure, censorship or persecution. A robust legal system must protect media houses and journalists all around the world so that they can fulfil their work in full independence. In a time where disinformation is on the rise, the safety of journalists must be guaranteed to allow them to promote accurate reporting for the benefit and in the interests of all our citizens.

“The EU will continue to use all appropriate external policy and financial instruments to enhance the quality of journalism, access to public information and freedom of expression. It will continue funding the European Centre for Press and Media freedom (ECPMF) and providing targeted protection through Human Rights Defenders Support programmes.

“All states within and outside the European Union have a duty to fulfill their obligations to protect freedom of expression and the safety of journalists by providing an enabling legal environment, by taking threats against journalists seriously and by vigorously prosecuting actual attacks. We expect all to reinforce preventive measures, mobilising all actors and creating national safety mechanisms, in line with the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

“Free journalism is the backbone of free societies: undermining it means undermining our own freedom” – the Declaration concludes.

Moscow demands Kiev to investigate real assassinations not fake

In a comment on fake news, and a staged assassination of Kiev journalist Arkadi Babchenko Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) requested from Ukrainian   authorities to  investigate the assassinations of journalists, and activists happened in the past, instead of indulging in theatrical performances of doubtful effects. Moscow has also assessed the operation as a stir, with a purpose of creating a whirlwind of  a Russophobic sentiments.

“The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported that journalist Arkady Babchenko is in fact alive and that his “murder” was nothing but an incident staged as part of a special operation. We are glad to hear that the Russian national is alive. However, we must point out the following” – the comment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation says.

As a direct consequence of these actions, obviously designed to attain a certain propaganda effect, the entire global community, which quickly responded to the reports of a media representative from Ukraine, was in fact misled. Now we are learning the true motives for this staged incident that was apparently another anti-Russia provocation”.

“Right after the rumour was spread that Arkady Babchenko had been murdered, the Ukrainian Prime Minister and several other officials made statements in which they directly accused Russia of being involved in the murder. Now Ukrainian officials are planning to spin this Russophobic lie. According to the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak, Ukrainian security forces detained a murder suspect who, as Hrytsak stressed, was allegedly recruited by Russian security services. SBU’s further action is clear. Naturally, they will continue to forment this provocation” – the comment continues.

The MFA is also reminding about the events in Odessa (2014, May 2), when  officially 48 people were killed, 250 wounded, however Member of Parliament from Odessa Vadim Savenko insists the real number of people burned alive in Trade Unions House amounts to 116. Throughout the fire, hundreds of local riot police were drawn up outside the building, but they mostly did not intervene to stop the massacre.

“Apparently, Ukrainian officials cannot find another way to demonstrate their performance other than to stage a murder instead of investigating actual crimes, including the murders of Oles Buzina, Pavel Sheremet and other journalists as well as the Odessa residents who were burned alive.” 

“We have to state that, in Ukraine, matters of life and death and the trust of the international community in its policy are nothing but a bargaining chip in Kiev’s efforts to incite anti-Russia hysteria.”  

“We are certain that our foreign partners and relevant international institutions will reach their respective conclusions” – the MFA comment suggests.

The fake news about assassination of  Russian journalist Arkadi Babchenko  caused a a wave of reactions, primary from journalistic community, but also from diplomats, and human rights activists. Reporters without Borders issued a special communiqué condemning deliberate creation of fake news by Babchenko as damaging to cause of mass media, combating desinformation.

 

 

EU calls for transparent investigation of Babchenko assassination

“The European Union expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was killed at his home in Kyiv on 29 May”- the External Action Service reacted in a statement of a spokesperson.

“Mr Babchenko was a respected war correspondent, who left his native Russia in 2017 following threats to his life in relation to his journalistic work there. Each time that a voice of freedom is violently silenced, it risks weakening our societies and undermining our democracies. The best way to honour Mr Babchenko‘s memory and his work, and to firmly counter any attempt to endanger our shared fundamental rights is through a swift and transparent investigation that brings those responsible for this crime to justice.”

“The European Union stands in solidarity with journalists and will continue to work to protect them and their work, which is vital to all democracies, within and beyond our borders.”

The assassination evoked a wave of condamnation from behalf of the leading European international institutions as Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland requested full and rapid investigation, pointing at danger the attack on free speech represents to democracy.

The assassination of a dissident Russian journalist, who lived and worked in Ukraine since 2017, took place next to his apartment, where he was shot three times in his back. There Ukrainian police said the hideous act may have been tied to his reporting.

Babchenko, 41, died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, a government official said.

Russian authorities vehemently reject accusations made ahead of the investigation.

AMENDMENT (!) 30/05/3028 17:45

“The reported killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko on Tuesday in Kiev was actually a ruse played by the Ukrainian law enforcement to prevent a planned hit, the Ukrainian authorities said.

Reporting on the high profile case on Wednesday, the head of the SBU, Ukraine’s national security service, Sergey Gritsak said Babchenko was alive and unhurt”.

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