Moscow Launch of New Database on Violations of the Rights of Journalists

Source: HRO.org (info), 05/10/11

On 4 October at Moscow’s House of Journalists a new database entitled Russia: Conflicts in the Media dedicated to providing information about violations of the rights of journalists was launched.

As Caucasian Knot reports, the database, devoted to attacks on journalists, threats, assaults and prosecutions, is a new resource. “This work has become possible thanks to the collaboration of various organizations and colleagues from a number of countries,” said Nadezhda Azhgikhina, secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia.

According to Azhgikhina, the database will bring together all those who are concerned about the development of independent journalism in Russia, whether media professionals or members of the public, and will contribute to preventing future conflicts.

Vsevolod Bogdanov, chair of the Union of Journalists of Russia, reminded those at the launch that “not one high profile killing that has been made the special responsibility of top officials has been solved.” However, this should not be a reason to dismiss attempts to find out the truth, or not to intervene in situations where “the authorities or the mafia are persecuting one of our colleagues.”

The president of the European Federation of Journalists, Arne König, said that the work done would help to put an end to the negative trend that currently exists in terms of violations of the rights of Russian journalists. He said the database would serve, and is already serving, as an example for other countries to follow.

Aleksei Simonov, president of Glasnost Defence Foundation, confirmed that a number of countries were interested in creating a similar database. “Latin American countries are extremely interested: Mexico and Columbia very much want to create something similar for themselves,” he said.

John Crowfoot, an expert with the International Federation of Journalists said that the first stage of the project to combat impunity in relation to violations of journalists’ rights in Russia had been completed in June 2009. However, after the attack on Khimki journalist Mikhail Beketov, the purpose of which, in Crowfoot’s opinion, was to kill the journalist, the project participants decided that they should continue the work they had begun.

The new resource, located at http://mediaconflictsinrussia.org, daily registers a wide spectre of incidents – from censorship and criminal prosecutions to threats and attacks on journalists all over Russia. The main source of the information used by the database is the monitoring conducted by the Glasnost Defence Foundation and its network of regional correspondents since the beginning of the 1990s.

According to its creators, writes Elena Khrustaleva, a correspondent with Caucasian Knot, the new database makes it possible to campaign against violations, to follow events in specific regions, and to take appropriate steps whenever an individual or media outlet becomes the object of threats or persecution.

Correspondents from 12 Russian regions and representatives of federal media attended the presentation.

In February this year the European Parliament at a session in Strasbourg passed a highly critical resolution on the situation of human rights in Russia. The resolution, among other things, referred to violations of human rights in the North Caucasus. The document listed the killings of Russian journalists and human rights defenders Natalya Estemirova, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova and Anna Politkovskaya. The European Parliament again called on the Russian authorities to find and bring to justice the killers of Russian journalists and human rights defenders.
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