Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

OSCE Frets About Media Freedom

A senior European media rights advocate on Tuesday painted a grim picture of official persecution of journalists in Russia and other former Soviet republics and urged authorities to end the abuses.

Freimut Duve, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's media freedom representative, criticized new Russian legislation that puts tight restrictions on media coverage of parliamentary elections.

"We are very critical about the election law," Duve said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

He also pointed to several recent cases when investigative journalists who reported on official corruption in Russian regions faced government persecution. Duve said local officials manipulated courts to silence the critical journalists.

"Journalists are in a dangerous situation when they write about corruption by the governors, and that is one huge problem," he said.

Duve said journalists face even tougher persecution in other former Soviet republics, calling Turkmenistan the "most brutal" of them all. He said the government of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov is manipulating the media in the same way as the Nazis, saying Turkmen media are forced to carry racist remarks in "a clear language of fascism" and transmit show trials of opposition politicians.

In neighboring Uzbekistan, there are "dramatic cases," including one journalist who was brutally tortured by officials who allegedly threatened to inject him with AIDS.

Duve also drew attention to repression against journalists initiated by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. Duve planned to visit Belarus this month but said he had been denied a visa.

He said authorities in Russia and some other former Soviet republics were using "censorship by killing" to muzzle the media and create "the journalistic landscape of anxiety and fear."

More than 200 journalists have been killed in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Interfax reported, citing the Union of Russian Journalists.