War Seen Hurting Media Freedoms

Press freedom fell dramatically in Georgia this year because of the brief war with Russia, a media rights group said Wednesday.

War, not poverty, was the single biggest threat to press freedom worldwide, according to the annual World Press Freedom Index published by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

Georgia slipped 54 places to 120th in the survey after Russia invaded the country in August, blocking journalists from entering South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Dutch television cameraman Stan Storimans was killed while filming the fighting, apparently by a Russian bomb.

Russia remained low on the press freedom list, in 141st place. "The situation in Russia, where the press continues to be subject to violence and harassment, has been changed little by Dmitry Medvedev's election as president," said the report, which compiles data for the year ended Sept. 1. Iceland, Luxembourg and Norway tied for the best score. Eritrea was last.

(AP, MT)