Each week, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project verifies threats, violations and limitations faced by the media throughout the European Union and neighbouring countries. Here are five recent reports that give us cause for concern.
1. Crimea: Russian media regulator blocks Radio Free Europe website
The Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor began blocking Krym Realii, the Сrimean edition of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on Saturday 14 May.
A representative of Roskomnadzor confirmed that the regulator had blocked a page, which contains an interview with a leader of the Tatar Mejlis, at the request of the general prosecutor office. “Currently, Roskomnadzor is implementing measures for blocking and closing this website,” criminal prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya told Interfax.
Krym Realii was established following the annexation of Crimea to Russia. Materials on the site are published in Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages.
2. Russia: Senior editors of independent RBC dismissed
Several editors at RBC media holding lost their jobs on 13 May following a meeting between top management with journalists. They include RBC editor-in-chief Elizaveta Osetinskaya, editor-in-chief of the RBC business newspaper Maksim Solyus, and RBC deputy chief editor Roman Badanin.
In a press release, RBC underlined that the dismissals were finalised as a mutual agreement of both parties, but sources from TV-Dozhd and Reuters claim managers have bowed to political pressure from the Kremlin.
The pressure against RBC began following investigations that have reportedly “irked the Kremlin“, including one on the assets of Vladimir Putin’s alleged daughter, Ekaterina Tikhonova.
3. Bosnia: Croatian journalist assaulted after covering protests
#Croatia demands perpetrators be found after RTL TV journalist Petar Panjkota attacked at #Bosnia Serb protest pic.twitter.com/qCPVWVv5L0
— Balkan Newsbeat (@BalkanNewsbeat) May 15, 2016
Petar Panjkota, a journalist for the Croatian commercial national broadcaster RTL, was physically assaulted after he had finished a segment from the Bosnian town Banja Luka on 14 May.
Panjkota was reporting on parallel rallies in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated of Republika Srpska. He was reporting on protests organised by the ruling and opposition parties of the Bosnian Serbs. When he went off air, Panjkota was punched in the head by an unidentified individual, leaving bruises.
RTL strongly condemned the attack, calling it another attack on media freedom. No information has surfaced on the identity of the assailant.
4. UK: Government overhaul could put independence of the BBC at risk
On 12 May, the long-awaited white paper on the future of the BBC was unveiled. The BBC Trust is to be abolished and replaced by a new governing board including ministerial appointees. The board will be comprised of 12 to 14 members: the chair, deputy chair and members for each of the four nations of the UK will be appointed by the government and the remaining seats will be appointed by the BBC.
“It is vital that this appointments process is clear, transparent and free from government interference to ensure that the body governing the BBC does not become simply a mouthpiece for the government,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said.
“Independence from government is essential for the BBC and these proposals don’t quite offer that,” Richard Sambrook, director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and former BBC journalist, told Index on Censorship. “There is no reason the board can’t be appointed by an arms length, independent panel. Currently the plans are too close to a state broadcasting model.”
5. Turkey: Two DİHA reporters detained in Van
Reporter of Kurdish news agency DIHA Sermin Soydan was arrested today becoming agency’s 13th imprisoned journalist pic.twitter.com/qhEC1BSbjg
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) May 15, 2016
Two reporters working for Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporters were detained in the eastern city of Van on 12 May. Nedim Türfent and Şermin Soydan were allegedly detained within the scope of an on-going investigation and taken to the anti-terror branch in the central Edremit district of Van.
Both were detained separately. According to Bestanews website, Nedim Türfent was detained when his car was stopped by state forces at the entrance of Van. Şermin Soydan was detained on her way to cover news in the city of Van.
Mapping Media Freedom