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RUSSIA: Russian troops in Ukraine are compiling lists of journalists for questioning

Russian troops in Ukraine are compiling lists of journalists for questioning

Reporters Without Borders (26.04.2022) – https://bit.ly/3OFg08g – As Russian soldiers in the mostly occupied Zaporizhzhia region draw up “lists of leading local figures to be kidnapped” and search for journalists in order to make them collaborate or to silence them, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reminds the Russian authorities that targeting journalists is a war crime.

The Zaporizhzhia-based news website 061.ua yesterday received its 12th threatening email from a Russian source since the start of the invasion, this one in the form of a children’s fairy-tale about a journalist with a Nazi father.

The preceding one, on 17 April, was very specific: “All journalists will be held responsible for spreading false information about Russia and spreading the Ukrainian Nazi regime’s propaganda […] A military tribunal will be set up for all those who support the Nazi regime led by [Ukrainian President] Zelenskiy.”

061.ua is based in the city of Zaporizhzhia itself, one of the few places in the Zaporizhzhia region that is not occupied. Another independent media outlet, Inform.zp.ua, is receiving similar messages. These news sites are also being subjected to DDOS attacks, in which sites are deliberately swamped with a flood of connection requests in order to block them.

In other cities and towns in the region – Melitopol, Berdiansk, Enerhodar and Tokmak – journalists have received “visits” from Russian soldiers, they have been subjected to interrogations and searches, their equipment has been seized, and in some cases have been taken hostage.

If they refuse to cooperate, their media outlets are forcibly closed or they may even be abducted. That is what happened to Irina Dubchenko, a journalist working for the UNIAN news agency and the Subota-plus weekly newspaper. She was abducted in Donetsk, in the Donbas region, on 26 March and was not released until 11 April.

According to Natalia Vyhovska, the Zaporizhzhia region representative of RSF’s local partner, the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), “the occupiers have lists of journalists and activists who they are watching.”

When a large number of journalists were simultaneously taken hostage in Berdiansk on 8 March, Serhii Starushko, a journalist with the PRO-100 media group, saw soldiers interrogate colleagues to get the names of other journalists and note them down on a list. The soldiers can then get the addresses of their homes from the local government databases they control in the occupied territories.

The use of such methods to track down journalists and others has also been reported by several foreign reporters and by the head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration, Oleksandr Starukh.

“By waging this manhunt to track down Ukrainian journalists, the Russian troops aim to terrorise them and force them to remain silent if they refuse to disseminate Kremlin propaganda,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We remind the Russian authorities that targeting journalists is a war crime.”

RIA-Melitopol news website editor Svitlana Zalizetska used a false identity to leave Melitopol and avoid being snared by these “lists of leading local figures to be kidnapped.” On 23 March, shortly after her departure, her home in Melitopol was searched by two Russian soldiers and a Russian civilian, who took her ailing, 75-year-old father hostage and said he would be released only if she came to them.

Two days later, they agreed to free him in return for her transferring control of the website to certain third parties. But Zalizetska continues to be harassed by phone, email and social media and to receive threats that are identical to those received by the Zaporizhzhia-based websites 061.ua and Inform.zp.ua.

“The town is small and someone pointed it out,” said Vitaly Golod, the editor of the local newspaper Nashe Misto-Tokmak, referring to his home in the town of Tokmak. On 22 March, just two days after he left for the capital, Kyiv, his home was searched by Russian intelligence officers, who took documents and a digital data storage device.

Industrialne Zaporizhzhia correspondent Kateryna Danilina-Levochko had also already left Melitopol when Russian soldiers went to arrest her on 21 March at her parents’ home, which was her registered address. They asked about her activities and about Mikhailo Kumok, the owner of the Melitopolskie Vedomosti (MV)media group, for whom she had worked in the past.

Kumok, Evgenia Borian, the editor of Melitopolskie Vedomostinewspaper, and two of the newspaper’s journalists, Yulia Olkhovskaia and Liubov Chaika, were all arrested at their homes the same day and were held for several hours. The media group’s activities were then suspended and its printing press was closed. The Russian occupiers published a fake issue of the newspaper, full of propaganda, on 7 April.

All the print media outlets in Melitopol, Berdiansk, Enerhodar and Tokmak have stopped appearing because their staff refused to cooperate with the Russian occupiers. At the start of March, the Russian army cut off the broadcasting of Ukrainian TV channels in these four cities.

Ukraine is ranked 97th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index. Russia is ranked 150th.

 

Photo credits: BBC





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WORLD: Attacks on the press: The deadliest countries in 2021

Attacks on the press: The deadliest countries in 2021

By Jennifer Dunham/CPJ Deputy Editorial Director

 

Committee to Protect Journalists (19.01.2022) – https://bit.ly/3nMV8QGAt least 27 journalists were killed due to their work in 2021, with India and Mexico topping the list of countries with the most media worker deaths, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ final data for the year. Of the total – which has risen by three since the publication of CPJ’s December 9 report on attacks on the press – 21 were singled out for murder in retaliation for their reporting. Four more were killed while reporting from conflict zones, and two others were killed covering protests or street clashes that turned deadly.

 

CPJ is still investigating the deaths of 18 other journalists – including six from Mexico – to determine whether their killings were work-related .

 

While the overall total of journalist deaths dropped from 2020’s number of 32, the number of confirmed retaliatory murders remained roughly the same, suggesting that journalists continue to be seen as targets. The two countries with the highest number of murders – India and Mexico, which registered four and three confirmed murders, respectively – both feature on CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where members of the press are singled out for murder and the perpetrators go free.

 

At least two journalists were killed in Myanmar, amid the military junta’s brutal crackdown on the press that also saw at least 26 journalists imprisoned for their reporting as of December 1, 2021. The two deaths, both in December, represented CPJ’s highest yearly recorded tally for journalist killings in Myanmar since 1999, and the country emerged as the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists after China in CPJ’s 2021 prison census.

 

Other findings from CPJ’s research on journalist killings include:

 

  • Political groups, such as anti-government parties or combatants, were the most frequently suspected killers of journalists in 2021, while politics was the most dangerous beat.
  • Afghan television anchor Mina Khairi – who was killed in June in Kabul when unidentified attackers detonated an improvised explosive device attached to a van she was riding in – was the only female journalist confirmed to have been targeted for murder in 2021. Another reporter, Yemeni photojournalist Rasha Abdullah al-Harazi – who was pregnant at the time – was killed by a car bomb on November 9, 2021, but it’s believed that the attack was aimed at her husband, Mahmoud al-Atmi. Al-Atmi, also a journalist, was seriously injured in the explosion.
  • The vast majority of killed journalists were locals covering the news in their home countries. Three foreign journalists were killed in 2021: Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who died in Afghanistan from injuries sustained while covering clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban in July; and Spanish documentary film crew David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, who were kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso in April.
  • Lebanese journalist Lokman Slim – who was murdered in February – was the only confirmed killing in the Middle East and North Africa in 2021, a sharp decrease after record-high levels of journalist deaths in the region over the last decade.

Learn more about CPJ’s 2021 data on killed and imprisoned journalists from our interactive map and annual prison census.

 

Methodology

 

CPJ began compiling detailed records on all journalist deaths in 1992. CPJ staff members independently investigate and verify the circumstances behind each death. CPJ considers a case work-related only when its staff is reasonably certain that a journalist was killed in direct reprisal for his or her work; in combat-related crossfire; or while carrying out a dangerous assignment such as covering a protest that turns violent.

 

If the motives in a killing are unclear, but it is possible that a journalist died in relation to his or her work, CPJ classifies the case as “unconfirmed” and continues to investigate.

 

CPJ’s list does not include journalists who died of illness or were killed in car or plane accidents unless the crash was caused by hostile action. Other press organizations using different criteria cite different numbers of deaths.

 

CPJ’s database of journalists killed in 2021 includes capsule reports on each victim and filters for examining trends in the data. CPJ maintains a database of all journalists killed since 1992 and those who have gone missing or are imprisoned for their work.

 

Jennifer Dunham is CPJ’s deputy editorial director. Prior to joining CPJ, she was research director for Freedom House’s Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press reports.

More On:

 

Afghanistan

Africa

Americas

Asia

Burkina Faso

India

Lebanon

Mexico

Middle East & North Africa

Myanmar

Yemen

 

Photo credits: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis





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AFGHANISTAN: Unidentified man attacks Afghan journalist in Kabul

Unidentified man attacks Afghan journalist Noor Mohammad Hashemi in Kabul

Committee to Protect Journalists (12.01.2022) – https://bit.ly/3K463Pv – The Taliban should investigate the recent attack on journalist Noor Mohammad Hashemi and take serious measures to protect Afghan media workers, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

 

At about 4:50 p.m. on January 10, three unidentified men pulled up next to Hashemi, deputy director of the nonprofit media outlet Salam Afghanistan Media Organization, while he was driving home in the capital, Kabul, and one of them exited their car and attacked him, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, and reports by his organization and other news and advocacy organizations.

 

The attacker, who carried a pistol and whose face was covered, forced Hashemi out of his car; the journalist offered the man his car keys and license, but the man refused and started searching the car, according to Hashemi and a video of the incident, which CPJ reviewed.

 

The attacker pointed his gun at Hashemi and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire; the journalist grabbed the pistol and hit the attacker on the head with it, and the man punched Hashemi in the eye, he said.

 

When Hashemi shouted for help, the attacker returned to the car with the two others and fled the scene, the journalist said. Hashemi told CPJ he did not believe the attack was a simple robbery attempt due to the assailant’s refusal to take his car when he offered it.

 

“Months after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the assault on Noor Mohammad Hashemi is part of a disturbing trend of attacks on the media,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator in Washington, D.C. “The Taliban must show its commitment to media safety by thoroughly investigating this attack, determining if it was related to Hashemi’s journalism, and holding the perpetrators accountable.”

 

Hashemi sustained a bruise to his eye and has pain in his back, he told CPJ.

 

Ahmadullah Wasiq, a Taliban deputy spokesperson in Afghanistan, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.

 

The Salam Afghanistan Media Organization’s offices and reporters have previously been threatened and attacked, as CPJ has documented. On September 18, 2021, an unidentified man shot Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, a reporter and editor with the Salam Watandar broadcaster, which is owned by the SAMO. On September 26, two armed men forcibly entered Salam Watandar’s office in Kabul.

 

Photo credits: Noor Mohammad Hashemi


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