Mapping Media Freedom: Journalists detained at Russian protests

June 16, 2017
Protesters in St. Petersburg demonstrated against corruption in Russia (Photo: Andrey Kalikh)

Protesters in St. Petersburg demonstrated against corruption in Russia (Photo: Andrey Kalikh)

Over the last seven days protests, lawsuits, and self-proclaimed governments have stopped journalists from doing their jobs in countries covered by Index on Censorship’s project Mapping Media Freedom.

Project Manager Hannah Machlin explains why incidents in Russia and Albania are particularly alarming.

“It’s appalling that around 1500 individuals were arrested — including journalists — at the anti-corruption rallies across Russia on Monday,” Machlin said.

Despite showing their press credentials, five journalists were detained including Index’s Mapping Media Freedom correspondent, Andrey Kalikh.

Machlin said, “Our previous reports and our monitoring of wave of anti-corruption rallies indicate that the trend of arresting journalists for doing their job will not abate.”

Machlin said the situation in Albania is also worrying because “a judge, who is in a position of influence, is now attempting to silence journalists who were investigating criminal investigations into him and his family.” She explained, “investigative reporters are consistently targeted when uncovering corruption of state officials and we must call on government institutions to allow journalists to freely report.”

Russia: Five journalists detained including one Mapping Media Freedom correspondent  

12 June, 2017 – An anti-corruption rallies proved to be a dangerous place for journalists on 12 June. The rallies were called by opposition figure Alexei Nalvalny in a long-term attempt to overthrow Vladimir Putin.

At a rally in Moscow, reporter Ignacio Ortega for a Spanish news agency, EFE, in Moscow was arrested while reporting on the event. After identifying himself with his press card at the station, he was released.

Photographer David Frenkel, contributor to Kommersant and Mediazona, and Ksenia Morozova, a journalist for a local website, were both detained despite showing their press cards while covering the anti-corruption rally in St. Petersburg. Frenkel was soon released but Morozova was held overnight before a trial for “public order disturbance.”

Reporter Andrey Poznaykov of Echo of Moscow radio station went to a café for a break where he was detained by policemen even after showing his press card. In his blog, he said he was detained for covering the anti-corruption rally in Moscow. Poznaykov was released shortly after being taken to a police van.

Mapping Media Freedom correspondent, Andrey Kaikh, was detained at an anti-corruption rally in St. Petersburg. From a police bus he wrote he was amongst 40 others at a peaceful demonstration. So far, about 300 protesters have been detained in St. Petersburg. Kaikh was fined 150 Euros and released him at the end of the day on 13 June.

Albania: Four journalists and two media outlets sued by judge for reporting

9 June, 2017 – A court of appeals judge in Tirana sued four journalists and two media outlets for their coverage of his criminal investigations and his family’s declared assets. Judge Gjin Gjoni says the reporting causing reputational damage and pain.

The charges were filed against Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) along with their journalist Besar Likmeta and Aleksandra Bogdani and Shqiptarja newspaper, along with their journalists Adriatic Doci and Elton Qyno.

The judge and his wife are asking for 7 million Lek (54, 000 EUR) in compensation from Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN in Tirana and two of their journalists; They are asking for 4 million Lek (30,000 EUR) from Shqiptarja newspaper and two from their journalists.

BIRN Albania, Adriatik Doci and the Union of Albanian Journalists have all spoken out about the lawsuit.

Ukraine: Journalist disappears in self-proclaimed DPR territory

2 June, 2017 – Ukrainian blogger and writer Stanyslav Aseev disappeared in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Aseev was reportedly detained by militants of the self-proclaimed DPR.

Aseev uses the alias Stanislav Vasin and contributes to a number of news outlets including Radio Liberty Donbas Realities project, Ukrayinska Pravda, Ukrainian week, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya. He also runs a prominent blog via Facebook.

Radio Liberty Donbass realities project editor-in-chief Tetyana Jakubowicz said their contact with Aseev had been lost on 2 June. That day Aseev’s latest report from territories held by separatists for Radio Liberty.

The journalist’s mother said his flat was broken into and noticed several of his belongings were missing including his laptop.

Fiona Frazer, the Head of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, said that the mission was searching for Aseev, Radio Liberty reported.

“We are trying to understand exactly what was happening to him. We are still trying to gain access there to understand where he is “, Frazer said. She added that, as in other cases, “when militants detain people, responsibility for this is placed on those who control the territory”.

France: Labour minister files complaint over Libération article

9 June, 2017 – New French labour minister Muriel Pénicaud filed a complaint against an unknown person for theft, breach of professional confidentiality and possession of confidential information following the publication of an article in the Libération newspaper about the government’s labour reform projects, Libération reported.

“They were mad with anger,” a source at the Labour Ministry told Libération, about the reaction to the story. “They reacted with such violence that they terrorised all of the affected department.”

Mapping Media Freedom
Be part of the reporting network
and report threats against media freedom here.