Archive for the 'THE REST OF THE WORLD (remember them?)' Category

Manana Aslamazyan Wins Appeal in Russian Constitutional Court


A cautious hooray! The Russian Constitutional Court has ruled unconstitutional the law under which Russian authorities had been threatening my long-time colleague and dear friend Manana Aslamazyan with jail time. Manana spent 15 years creating and leading a terrific organization originally called Internews Russia and later renamed Educated Media Foundation (EMF), where I was privileged to work for several years. The organization’s mission was to help the non-state media outside Moscow, especially the several hundred private local TV stations that sprang up in the early ’90s, develop and grow.

Year by year, during the Putin administration, everyone supporting independent thinking among journalists came to feel that they were viewed as an enemy of the state. In the xenophobic atmosphere that Putin cultivated, the fact that many of the grants that supported the work of EMF/Internews Russia over the years came from the US Agency for International Development, the Ford Foundation and other suspect groups, multiplied the effect. So when an excuse was found (or manufactured) to bring criminal charges against Manana for accidentally violating a customs regulation (it could and should have been an administrative issue with a small fine at most), Russian authorities launched a massive investigation not only of Manana but of the EMF.

In April of last year, 20 police officers arrived at my old office, and, in a search that was clearly illegal, seized the organization’s every financial and administrative document and all the computer servers. Shortly afterward, journalists in Tomsk launched a campaign to have Russian journalists sign a letter of protest to Putin, and impressively more than 2000 of them did, but the Kremlin didn’t even respond. Last May, as the investigation showed no signs of letting up, Manana left for Paris rather than risk arrest and the board of the Educated Media Foundation voted to close the organization.

Meanwhile, since the ordeal began, Manana’s legal team has been fighting the charges in every way and in court they could, including preparing to submit a case to the European Court of Human Rights. Each time there was another court date set, those of us following the case closely felt there was hope. Friends who sat in the session would report that Manana’s lawyers had been perfect, the investigator’s team disorganized and clearly in the wrong. The judge would promise a decision the next day (always the next day). And each and every time, the judge would use some contorted logic in order to find for the prosecution. Sometimes observers noted that the judges themselves seemed embarrassed.

Despite the ruling, it is clear that the Educated Media Foundation will not be allowed to re-open any time soon, and Russia’s broadcast media will continue to feel all kinds of pressure to demonstrate their “loyalty” and “patriotism.” So today’s decision feels like a victory, but a small one. We can only hope it’s a sign of better things to come.

Your Birthday is our Catastrophe; Broadening the Israel @ 60 Story


May 15th is Blog for Palestine Day. 20,000 protesters in Nazareth were met with tear gas a couple days ago. If you missed these stories, or if you’d just like to broaden your perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this is a good time to check out a partnership highlighting Middle East news between three terrific non-profits: Global Voices, LinkTV, and (Full disclosure, I have friends in all three organizations.) The first two focus on highlighting new sources of news of the world, NewsTrust helps discover high-quality journalism on all topics. If you have only four and a half minutes to spare, start with Jamal Dajani’s Mosiac Intelligencer Report: Your Independence is our Nakba. But it’s worth diving in to the materials on all three sites, and encouraging any journalists you know covering the story to do the same.

Tags: Palestine, Israel, Middle East, Global Voices, LinkTV,, nonprofit journalism

Burmese images and voices


Sad photos of the post-cyclone devastation in Myanmar, (warning: including dead children), are on this Burmese blog  (my browser doesn’t even display the fonts, have no idea what it’s called) which I found thanks to Ivan Sigal’s thoughtful Burning Bridge Blog. Also fascinating that the author ends the series with a cartoon which I was able to identify as  Singapore cartoonist Heng Kim Song (translation or publication info welcome). Meanwhile, Global Voices provides fascinating insight into what Burmese themselves are saying about the slow arrival of relief for the survivors. One blog says an anonymous government official believes the death toll might be as high as 600,00. Another hopes the government will find a way to accept foreign aid so as not to lose the trust of the people.

Tags:  burma, blogs, globalvoices

Eurasian Regional Media Development Forum


one of my favorite logosHow to improve the media in Eurasia? About 150 people from local and international media development NGOs working in former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as funders and others interested in the region have gathered in Paris to talk about their common problems. It’s a regional subsection of the Global Forum for Media Development. We’re winding up now with a fun training on creativity.

There have been some lively discussions about whether or not to work with governments, how to convince donors that media is important, what we’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t, the perennialy painful question of how to evaluate the success of media development. Today several of us discussed new tools and how they might help this work.

I tried to encourage my former colleagues to consider the work that is being done with various forms of participatory media to enhance their own work and the work of the traditional media they support. I tried to encourage them to look at projects that offer platforms for both citizen and professional reporting from their region, like Global Voices, Transitions Online, and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Also some of the sites where stories from around the world are discussed, such as allvoices, ground report and topix. And briefly touched on examples like Everyblock, Public Insight Journalism

New media is a hard sell in this group. The countries they work in don’t have very high Internet penetration, there is lots of work to do with traditional media, most of the people in the media in these countries and the media support organizations are not of the digital native generation. I’m not at all sure I convinced anybody, probably only confused them. But perhaps the confusion will lead them to look at new media again.

Tags: GFMD, Eurasia, Media Development

Myanmar (Burma) activists ask the UN to listen!


1, 2, 3, 4, ... , 2217 (Bagan, Myanmar) Catching up on my Global Voices reading, got to this disturbing reminder of the international stories that go quickly back to being local after the crisis fades. A blogger called Buddhist Warrior

publishes a statement from the All Burma Monks’ Alliance and the 88 Generation Students under the unambiguous title “The United Nations is a Failure“. Naturally this plea to the UN Secretary General was picked up by mainstream media everywhere, (if everywhere is India, Thailand and Norway, and Burmese-focussed media is mainstream).

1, 2, 3, 4, … , 2217 (Bagan, Myanmar),
originally uploaded by jmhullot.

In which Pooh discovers Tagging


One more mini-milestone in my blog education: after months of looking for a widget and being afraid to ask, I figured out how to add tags to my blog. Hoping to spend a chunk of today folksonomatizing the blog archives.

While I’m doing that, you can read Christine Gorman’s recent post about Zimbabwe that is not about the elections or the media.

Zimbabwe 1

Originally uploaded by babasteve
Tags: folksonomy Zimbabwe tags

Berkman at 10

Human Rights Lawyer and Colleague Still Detained in Belarus


In Russian Organized Crime v. American-Russian Law Institute the Russian-American Law Institute explains what they believe to be the reasons for the continued detention of their director Emanuel Zeltser and his secretary Vladena Funk.

Meanwhile this site and this one have been set up specifically to support the campaign to free Zeltser and Funk. A demonstration in support of the pair is planned at the Belarus Consulate in NYC this Wednesday, April 2.

Note: The American Russian Law Institute is a little hard to parse. I only recognize one name on their advisory board but it’s a damn good one:Boris Kuznetsov who until he found himself under attack by the Russian government was helping defend my colleague Manana Aslamazyan and the Educated Media Foundation. Background and current news on that ongoing case is at the Internews Netork site.

Tags: Zeltser, Belarus

New Perspective on Belarus Detention


A few days ago I posted a press release about the detention in Minsk of Emanuel Zeltser, described as a human rights lawyer. The story was later reported in Forbes and elsewhere.

Now, Russian oligarchi-in-exile Boris Berezovsky tells Georgian TV station Rustavi2 Emanuel Zeltser is a swindler who is trying to seize the assets of Berezovsky’s former partner Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died suddenly in February.

“they [Joseph Kay and Emanuel Zeltser] presented themselves as people authorized to manage Badri’s assets. Shortly after that it became absolutely clear that they were swindlers, who have falsified documents and as far as I know Mr. Zeltser is now in prison in Belarus, where they also tried to seize Badri’s assets through faked documents “ Details and lots of other interesting tidbits about Georgian politics in the full English transcript of the interview.

Meanwhile, someone posted a long comment on my earlier post titled

This is what we call an информационная война (“information war”). Make your own decision about what to believe, I’m just the messenger here.

American Human Rights Advocate and Lawyer Detained in Minsk


This reached me through reliable contacts, if anyone wants contact info please write me. Persephone
Emanuel Zeltser
As confirmed on March 15 by the US Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, Emanuel Zeltser, a prominent New York lawyer and human rights activist, was arrested in Minsk, Belarus, on March 12th, while representing interests of his international client. The fact of Mr. Zeltser’s detention was confirmed March 15 by the local authorities at the request of the US Embassy in Minsk, however, Mr. Zeltser’s precise whereabouts are being presently concealed and he does not appear to have access to legal representation or medical assistance. Mr. Zeltser suffers from a number of serious medical conditions and may not survive the detention without immediate medical attention. No formal charges against him have been filed yet and all information is very sketchy at best. The arrest and the whole saga appear to have been orchestrated by Mr. Zeltser’s opponents who used the dictatorial political climate in Belarus and strong anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiment in that country as well as massive corruption in the local police to organize Mr. Zeltser’s arrest and his virtual disappearance. His friends and colleagues have been in constant touch with the US Embassy in Minsk but were told that the US officials are also being kept in the dark as to Mr. Zeltser’s whereabouts and charges filed against him.
Mr. Zeltser is well-known in the US and abroad for being a long time fighter against money laundering and organized crime in Russia and former Soviet republics. He is Director of American Russian Law Institute known for its vociferous stance against international money laundering. In 1999, at the invitation of the US Congress, Mr. Zeltser testified before the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services at the Hearing on Russian organized crime and money laundering. Mr. Zeltser regularly appears as legal expert in the media including Fox News Channel, CNN, ABC-TV (Australia ), The Voice of America, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, CBC (Canada) and others, addressing many legal and political issues, including international terrorism, money laundering, and organized crime.

Russian language version on Belarus Partisan.

We will all be famous to 15 people


David Weinberger’s quote above is just one lovely thing in Global Voices’ new guide to global citizen media for would-be mediamakers around the world. You may not need the tips on starting a blog, but the examples from around the world are impressive.