Sun, 21 April 2024

Telling it like it is about journalism

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SG. Vienna, Good Friday, April 29, 2024

Antonina Favorskaya

On this of all days it’s as if the news could not be more bloody or had to understand, or to forgive. Only today, AP reports, an independent tv journalist Antonina Favorskaya who supported the late Alexei Navalny faces up to six years in prison.

This newsletter from Caroline Houck, senior editor of news at Vox  pays tribute to colleagues, so many of whom have paid with their freedom and often their lives for trying to provide an essential service.

She writes: “This morning, Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter and the first American journalist to be arrested in Russia on espionage charges since the Cold War, woke up to his second year in prison.

“After five years of covering Russia, he was arrested in March 2023. It came as a shock: though Russian journalists have long faced increasing repression and even deadly peril, international journalists “were generally a somewhat protected class,” as my former colleague Jonathan Guyer wrote one year ago.

One thing Gershkovich had in common with many Russian journalists who have run afoul of the state: his arrest was bogus.. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) considers him a “Russian state hostage.” Despite a year of pre-trial hearings and extensions on his detention, Russia has publicly provided no clear evidence to substantiate its allegations.”

It has also “had a huge chilling effect, with further self-censorship,” according to Jeanne Cavelier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

That all serves Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aims amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. But what’s happened to Gershkovich isn’t just about Putin. 

WSJ’s Evan Gershkovichersk – still in prison two years on (photo courtesy AFP)

“Yes, his government was already particularly bad on press freedom and has only gotten worse since Russia invaded Ukraine: over 30 journalists in Russia are currently imprisoned because of their reporting and between 1,500 to 1,800 Russian journalists were forced into exile” over the last two years, according to a report by the RSF’s JX Fund.

“Russia is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in the last Press Freedom Index,” Cavelier pointed out. “It dropped another nine places last year, in the worst category of the ranking where the press freedom situation is classified as ‘very serious.’”

Brazen attacks on the media hardly stop at Russia’s borders, the Vox newsletter continues:

  • “As the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted in December, 68 journalists were killed in the first 10 weeks of the Gaza war — more “than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year.” Gaza was already a difficult place to conduct independent journalism, given Hamas’s harassment, intimidation, and physical abuse of reporters. But Israel has said it cannot guarantee journalists’ safety in Gaza and has denied international reporters access to the territory. Critics say the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also appear to have a pattern of targeting journalists. “In at least one case, a journalist was killed while clearly wearing press insignia in a location where no fighting was taking place,” CPJ reported. “In at least two other cases, journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and IDF officers before their family members were killed.” Full Vox Today Explained newsletter 
  • 21/02/24 Euronews Russia classifies Radio Free Europe as “undesirable organisation”
  • But European Commission quietly supports RSF plans for satellite broacasting to Russia by exiled Russian colleagues. 


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