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11-18 MAY: ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS AND VIOLATIONS AGAINST MEDIA SPECIFIC TO COVID-19

Index on Censorship and Justice for Journalists Foundation jointly monitor violations against the global media specific to the COVID-19 related crisis and catalogue them on the Index’s current website and on the JFJ Media Risk Map.

  • RUSSIA, MOSCOW: Police stopped journalist Andrey Kaganskih in Sokolniki Park and threatened to plant drugs on him. Kaganskih was detained, and only let go after an official report was filed on him for breaking self-isolation rules.
  • RUSSIA, NOVOKUBYSHEVSK: The city court fined journalist Anna Krylova 15 thousand roubles (over 200 USD) for the spreading fake news. On the 24th of March, she published an article on NSK63 news site quoting a local resident’s personal social media account that he was diagnosed with COVID-19. The material includes comments from the senior doctor at the city hospital, affirming that the resident had the virus. Later, the doctor filed the complaint to the police, saying she had not given permission for her comment to be published. As a result, Krylova published a retraction and the doctor’s comment was removed from the article.
  • RUSSIA, MOSCOW: The State Duma Committee asked the Public Prosecution Service of the Russian Federation to take measures against MBK Media, Current Time and Kavkaz.Realii following their publication of summaries of Financial Times and New York Times articles. Earlier, Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, sent letters to Financial Times and The New York Times. She demanding to refute data on the underestimation of mortality from COVID-19 in Russia.
  • AZERBAIJAN, BAKU: A penal colony in Azerbaijan has confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has spent a few days under strict quarantine rules. Elchin Ismailly, who works for the newspaper “Azadliq”, has been put in solitary confinement for five days because he did not wear a protective mask. The actual reason for his punishment was his criticism of the inappropriate anti-COVID-19 measures by the management at the penal colony.
  • BELARUS, LUNINETSOn the 13th of May, a court in the Luninets District fined the editors of the Media-Polesye news website 120 basic units (around 1355 USD) under Part 3-1 of Article 22.9 of the administrative criminal code, which punishes the “sharing of prohibited content in mass media”. The court decided that information about COVID-19 published by Media-Polesye damaged the national interests of the Republic of Belarus.
  • INDIA, GUJARAT: Dhaval Patel, editor of the online news portal Face of Nation, has been detained and charged with sedition over the publication of an article suggesting that Vijay Rupani, chief minister of Gujarat, might be replaced by shipping minister Mansukh Mandaviya. The article had reportedly claimed that the leaders of Rupani’s Bharatiya Janata Party were unhappy with his management of the coronavirus crisis.
  • CHINA, WUHAN:  A citizen journalist from Shanghai who has criticised the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis has been detained after live-streaming from the city at the centre of the outbreak. Zhang Zhan has been streaming her experiences from Wuhan on Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms since 1 February. She has been charged with the vague offence of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.