Attacks on the media in Europe should not become the “new normal”, but happening more frequently and often go unpunished. This follows from a new report by partner organizations of the Platform of the Council of Europe (COE) to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, which was published ahead of may 3 world press freedom day. A separate Chapter in the review is devoted to Russia. The document says that in 2019 in the Russian Federation “of independent journalists and bloggers continued to be subjected to harassment and intimidation,” and “the government continued force to disperse peaceful protests and have sought to censor reporting on public meetings.” Also accused the Russian leadership is adopting a series of laws that allowed to impose “excessive limitations on the freedom of expression”. Meanwhile, the Russian foreign Ministry earlier criticized the Platform of the Council of Europe for “anti-Russian attacks” biased and unbalanced.”142 serious threats to media freedom”Published today the report under the loud name “Hands off press freedom: attacks on the media in Europe should not be unpunished,” was prepared by the 14 partner organisations of the COE, such as, for example, the international Federation of journalists, “reporters without borders” and “Index on censorship”. Their conclusions the researchers make based on the current 2015 Platform of the Council of Europe to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. The document analyzed the situation last year.The overview of the maximum disturbing: “In 2019 Europe became strained and often dangerous battleground for freedom of the press and freedom of expression. On the Platform of the Council of Europe was 142 serious threat to freedom of the media, including 33 physical attacks on journalists, 17 new cases of detention and imprisonment, 43 cases of harassment and intimidation and two new cases of impunity for murder. Together, these alert indicate the growing practice of intimidation in an attempt to force journalists to shut up, which requires member States to take urgent measures for maintaining the vital role of a free press in democratic societies”.It is reported that in 2019 were killed two journalists: “Lyra McKee was shot and killed while covering sectarian demonstration in Northern Ireland (UK), and Vadim Komarov died from severe injuries in the attack on Ukraine” (at the beginning of may in the city of Cherkassy he was attacked by an unknown). “Currently, perpetrators are still not punished in at least 22 cases of killings of journalists in eight countries, questioning the commitment of Europe to the rule of law,” continue the authors of the report.Their concern is ��also the criminal prosecution of media workers (“At the end of 2019 in Turkey, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and controlled by Russia of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in jail, there were at least 105 journalists”), as well as the overall shrinking space of media freedom (“Political control of information has become more rigorous and sophisticated due to the presence of the media owned by the state or oligarchs, Intrusive surveillance and targeted cyber attacks, the closure of major news agencies and web portals, as well as judicial and administrative harassment of journalists and other workers of mass media”).The media and journalists, as the authors of the report, “are increasingly faced with threats to their physical safety” and “for many of those who are subjected to attacks or ill-treatment by public officials, law enforcement officers or protesters, not done justice.” “Moreover, the data show that is under threat digital security and journalists has become much more difficult to protect their communication with whistleblowers and other confidential sources,” the report said.”The situation in the field of media freedom in Europe today is extremely poor”,— summarized in the document. The purpose of the work of partner organizations Council of Europe is not just to gather information about various emergency cases and to publish it, but also to get an answer from the authorities. With this, however, there are problems. As can be seen from statistics for the years 2015-2019, with no response remained alert 318 (49%). In the remaining 334 cases of the power contact still went — and in several cases were even taken certain steps.”Dialogue (with the authorities.— “B”) may lead to reforming legislation and regulatory regimes, the improvement of mechanisms of protection and supervision, as well as to more effectively investigate crimes against journalists and to prosecute for them. Such positive developments are welcome and can help to ensure that the case will be marked as successful or be declared “resolved”,”,— explained in the report. In the category of “regulated” related 144 alerts (22% of the total).Without autotrase on this indicator is among the hopelessly lagging it (and Bosnia and Herzegovina) did not reply to any of the alerts Platform — although only in 2019 they received 17 pieces.Partner organizations of the Council of Europe are concerned about a number of cases and trends in the Russian Federation. So, the report argues: “In 2019, the independent journalists and bloggers continued to face harassment and intimidation in Russia through legal harassment, physical violence or threats. The other bitingx effects for freedom of the media are trying to limit access to information — both in network and out of it, as well as the introduction of a number of restrictive laws.”Special mention to a few cases: the case of the journalist of “Medusa” Ivan Golunova, who “was arrested by the police on baseless suspicion in distribution of narcotic substances”; the case of the Ingush journalist portal “Fortang” Maisigov Rashid, who “was arrested by the local Department of the FSB and subjected to torture with the aim of forcing the recognition of drug possession”; the case of the Pskov freelance correspondent of “Radio Liberty” Svetlana Prokofiev, which was accused of “justification of terrorism” following comments she made in the air of “Echo of Moscow”.Mentioned in the report of last year’s protests. “In an attempt to restrict access to information of significant public interest, the Russian authorities continued force to disperse peaceful protests and have sought to censor the reports of journalists, bloggers and media on public assemblies”,— stated in the text.Concerned experts, and legislative innovations, which, in their opinion, “has imposed excessive restrictions on freedom of expression and further undermined freedom of the media in the Russian Federation”. “In March, President Putin signed two bills that establish criminal liability for “insulting” the state and the proliferation of “fake news”,”— reminded the authors of the report gave an example of enforcement actions: in August, the correspondent of weekly newspaper “Yakutsk evening” Mikhail Romanov was accused of “abuse of freedom of information by publishing fake news, is a threat to society” and fined 30 thousand rubles (however, then the penalty was lifted on appeal due to “insufficient evidence”).In may 2019, as noted in the report, Vladimir Putin signed the law on “sovereignty on the Internet” — and thereby “strengthened the government’s control over information, allowing the Russian Internet to operate independently from the rest of the world.” Of no less concern to the authors of the review called another bill signed last year by Vladimir Putin,— the extension of the status of foreign agents (including private individuals, including bloggers and journalists).”Serious doubts about the objectivity and impartiality”To all of these claims, the Russian leaders have the answers. So, speaking about the law on the protection of the Russian Internet, Putin said: “here No restrictions are planned. On the contrary, the act was intended to ensure the sovereignty of our Internet, our segment and the opportunity to work there for everyone, and individuals, and bloggerm, and state organizations.” Explaining the position on foreign agents, the Russian President said: “as for individuals, what is it? When there was the law associated with organizations that receive money from abroad and engaged in, in fact, the internal policy of each state, I want to emphasize, is making efforts in order to limit foreign interference in domestic Affairs. Now, our law is directed at it”. Mr Putin stressed that individuals who receive money from abroad for the implementation of internal political work should straight at this point — “it is known, he who pays the Piper calls the tune”.As for the activities of the activists of the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, it is April 17 this year, commented the official representative of Russian foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova. Her indignation was aroused by the publication of the “notification of risk”, which, according to the framework have been made by the official representative of the Ministry of defense of Russia Igor Konashenkov to the journalist of the Italian newspaper La Stampa Jacopo Iacoboni. He had accused Russia that its assistance Italy to combat coronavirus infection, 80% useless. “The authors of this notice (a British NGO “Article 19” and the Belgian Association of European journalists) as a threat to the perceived not the passage of Russian arms, not news about the military exercises, which could Igor Konashenkov mentioned— he is charged as an “act of aggression” to use the Latin proverb Qui fodit foveam, incidet in eam (“Who digs a pit for another shall fall into it”), contained in the comments of 2 April in relation to the publication of the aforementioned Newspapers. There is a lot to come up with a linguistic debate on the interpretation of the meaning of this proverb in today’s world, but of course, nothing to do with “intimidation” is nowhere near here,”— said Maria Zakharova.After that, she complained to the initiative under the auspices of the Council of Europe as a whole: “Since the creation of the Platform-Russia expressed serious doubts about the ability of this structure to objectivity and impartiality. I would like to remind you that it was formed from 14 Western NGOs, which often receive direct funding of the governments of the countries concerned. We love to always satisfy our partners with facts. So, more than half of the budget, “Article 19″ (the same British NGO that scared Igor Konashenkov) comes from the authorities, including the UK foreign office and US state Department. Moreover, its publication does not checked and cannot be edited by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe”. That is why, as recalled by Ms. Zakharova, Russia refused to dissemination activities Platform��PMS on their territory.According to Maria Zakharova, over the years, the Platform has been repeatedly published “biased and unbalanced information”. “I’m sorry, what page is this structure found its home on the website of the Council of Europe and is its emblem”, she said. And he concluded: “In its current form, the Platform not only facilitates the realization of the main goals of the Council of Europe to strengthen the unity of member countries, but actually it discreditied”.Paul Tarasenko
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