Russia: Police raid opposition magazine

Armed police raided the offices of opposition magazine the New Times on 2 September. The magazine’s editor Yevgenia Albats was repeatedly asked to hand over interview recordings that were used in a report on alleged abuses of power by OMON riot police. The report, which cited police sources making accusations about their superiors, prompted the force to launch a libel case in February. Albats gave police an interview transcript, but withheld any information concerning the identities of sources. OMON police are frequently deployed to break up demonstrations, and were involved in detaining 100 protesters at Strategy 31’s rally in Moscow on 31 August.

Concerns for press freedom have also been raised in Belarus this week, when the country’s oldest independent newspaper said that it faces closure due to interference from the government. The editor of Babruiski Kurier, Anatol Sanatsenka, said that the publication is in a difficult financial situation after authorities banned any advertising in the newspaper. He added that local officials told him that Babruiski Kurier “does not write about the right things”.

Ukrainian journalists targeted and attacked

Journalists from television channel TVi have written an open letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, demanding that he intervene to stop the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) pressuring journalists. SBU has demanded that TVi present them with documents regarding a tender, the deal angered rival companies affiliated with the SBU’s director, Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy, whose wife runs one of TVi’s competitors. Journalists expressed concerns that SBU is turning into “a structure which backs personal and business interests of the head of the SBU, Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy, and members of his family”. And in a seperate incident on Tuesday, Ukrainian police intimidated journalists and camermen at the newspaper Ekspres. The paper’s director was arrested in Livy on charges of tax evasion. Journalists who came to the police station to cover the story claim they were handled brutally by police.  The paper had published an investigative report on corruption among lawmakers, triggering protests that disrupted traffic on a busy highway near Lviv. The attack is the fourth such incident involving journalists since the inauguration of President Viktor Yanukovych to the presidency in February.

Further escalation in Sri Lankan press crackdown

Following our report on the Sri Lankan press crackdown, the office of the president has issued a statement on Tuesday denying the existence of the leaked government “hit-list” that contained 35 journalists, lawyers and activists. One of the top targets on the list, J. C. Weliamuna, the chairperson of Transparency International Sri Lanka, faces imminent arrest this week according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Gambian journalists jailed for defamation

Six journalists in Gambia have been jailed for two years each after being found guilty of criticising the country’s president. The journalists from the newspaper Foroyaa and weekly publication The Point were convicted of sedition and defamation for comments critical of President Yahya Jammeh. Read more here