Tag Archives: RSF

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).

Navalny: Russia press arrests

The extraordinary figure of more than 50 arrests of reporters, some of whom were subjected to police violence, is based on data compiled by the specialised news website OVD-Info, the Russian Journalists and Media Workers Union (JMWU) and information gathered directly by RSF.

“The police deliberately targeted certain media, going so far as to try to enter a private apartment, to cut off a video feed of the demonstrations, and in a sign of the totally disproportionate nature of the crackdown, even clearly-identified reporters wearing ‘press’ vests or armbands were held for several hours,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“The aim was clearly to prevent them from showing the scale of support for a government opponent. We call on the Russian authorities to end this blatant obstruction of the freedom to inform and we urge the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Teresa Ribeiro, to condemn the violence and arbitrary arrests. We also call on the European Union to adopt new sanctions against Russian officials.”

Multiple obstructions of the right to inform
Dozhd (Rain TV), an independent TV channel that is experienced in providing live coverage of demonstrations, was censored in mid-transmission when police cut the power supply to a Moscow apartment from which a Dozhd crew was broadcasting and then arrested reporter Aleksei Korostelev and cameraman Sergei Novikov on the pretext of verifying their identity. Another Dozhd journalist, Eduard Birmistrov, was arrested in Saint Petersburg although he was wearing a yellow vest and had his press card around his neck.

Cases of police deliberately obstructing journalists were filmed or reported throughout the day. They included the filmed arrest of Ivan Petrov, a reporter for the photo agency Tardigrada in Saint Petersburg, and the arrest of The Insider reporter Vera Ryabitskaya, who was beaten with a baton and dragged by her hair into a police van.

In Moscow, riot police hit Elizaveta Kirpanova, a reporter for the independent triweekly Novaya Gazeta, with their batons for several minutes, dealing some of the blows to her head, although she was clearly identifiable by her “press” vest and badge, while a baton blow smashed the camera lens of her photographer colleague Viktoria Odisonova.

Ekaterina Grobman, a reporter for VTimes, an independent news website recently founded by journalists who used to work for the daily newspaper Vedomosti, was hit when being arrested despite her “press” badge. Police also used violence against two journalists with the leading Riga-based news site Meduza, beating Kristina Safonova as she was filming a protest and grabbing Evgenyi Feldman by the neck. Nikita Stupin, a reporter for the AvtokazLive website, was tasered.
The police had already tried to intimidate journalists and media outlets in the run-up to the 23 January demonstrations in support for Navalny, who was arrested on his arrival in Russia on 17 January after several months in Germany recovering from a poisoning attempt. Navalny’s team has called for more protests on 31 January.
Russia is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

RSF: press freedom declines

2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) illustrates how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.

If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.

Norway is ranked first in the 2019 Index for the third year running while Finland (up two places) has taken second place from the Netherlands (down one at 4th), where two reporters who cover organized crime have had to live under permanent police protection. An increase in cyber-harassment caused Sweden (third) to lose one place.

Russia  went down one at 149th, where the Kremlin has used arrests, arbitrary searches and draconian laws to step up the pressure on independent media and the Internet.

At the bottom of the Index, both Vietnam (176th) and China (177th) have fallen one place, Eritrea (up 1 at 178th) is third from last, despite making peace with its neighboring Ethiopia, and Turkmenistan (down two at 180th) is now last, replacing North Korea (up one at 179th).

A considerable blow to the freedom of press was added in France: during the manifestations of Yellow Vests reporters were confronted with police violence.

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.

 

 

Reporters without Borders condemn Babchenko fake news

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the distressing simulation of Russian exile journalist Arkady Babchenko’s murder, which was done with the aim of unmasking those who wanted to kill him, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claimed today.

A day after he was reportedly gunned down at the entrance to his Kiev apartment building, Babchenko was very much alive when he appeared at a press conference organized by the SBU today in Kiev.

He said he was told a month ago that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was planning to kill him and he had no choice but to cooperate in the SBU’s simulation of his death. He apologized to members of his family who were not in the know.

SBU chief Vasil Gritsak said that, thanks to this operation, they were able to arrest the Ukrainian citizen who was recruited by the FSB to organize Babchenko’s murder, and to prevent the deaths of 30 other persons who were in the sights of the Russian authorities.

“This journalist’s reappearance is a great relief but it was distressing and regrettable that the Security Service of Ukraine played with the truth,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Was such a scheme really necessary? There can be no grounds for faking a journalist’s death.”

According to reports confirmed yesterday by the Ukrainian police, the 41-year-old journalist died while being rushed to hospital from the injuries he received when he was shot three times in the back as he was returning to his Kiev apartment.

An outspoken critic of the Russian government since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Babchenko has often received death threats on social networks. Fearing for his safety after Russian state TV channels launched a campaign against him, he fled to Prague in February 2017 but moved to Kiev a few months later and has been hosting a programme there on the Tatar TV channel ATR since last October.

Ukraine is ranked 101st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

 

 

Swiss ranked fifth in World Press Index

Switzerland has upgraded its place from seventh to fifth in this year’s World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries compiled by Reporters without Borders (RSF). However, the Swiss ascendance has taken place  in a deteriorating environment for journalists worldwide, including in Europe.

Prem Samy, responsible for the index at RSF, says there are two major reasons behind Swiss upgrade: “This year was a bit more optimistic for Switzerland, because the No Billag initiative, which was a threat to public TV and radio, was rejected by referendum,” he told swissinfo.ch.

The second reason is “purely mechanical”, Smay continued, because in the context of the countries like Costa Rica and Denmark dropping down, others move up.

While the “No Billag” initiative was a “threat that didn’t happen in the end”, Samy concluded the Swiss context “is still a bit dangerous in terms of pluralism and the restructuring that is coming, especially for ATS (the Swiss News Agency)”.

RSF says this year report reflects “growing animosity towards journalists” and the fact that “hostility towards the media from political leaders is no longer limited to authoritarian countries like Turkey and Egypt.”

“More and more democratically elected leaders see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion,” it continues.