25 May – 8 June: 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: Tverskoy District Court arrested the journalist Ilya Azar for 15 days for solitary protest in support of Vladimir Vorontsov, the founder of the “Police Ombudsmen” Telegram group. Azar was accused of repeatedly breaking rules surrounding public demonstrations. Officially, Azar was arrested for contravening Moscow Mayor’s ban on public events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several journalists expressed support for Azar’s actions with their own individual protests and were also detained by officers. Azar was released on the 7th of June.
  • RUSSIA, VOLOGDA: The journalist Evgeniy Domozhirov was detained at a building site that sparked protests amongst local residents. The reason for his detention was that he showed his passport to the police instead of handing it over to them. Domozhirov was charged for breaking self-isolation rules.
  • RUSSIA, TULA: Police in Tula charged the blogger Ilya Varlamov in absentia for breaking self-isolation rules. The blogger had visited Kazan’s waterfront on the 15th of April and filmed the video “The hero-city that surrendered to urban planning mistakes”, despite the governor’s order banning visits to public spaces in the region.
  • UZBEKISTAN, FERGANA: The journalist Usmonzhon Kodirov was detained by a law enforcement officer for allegedly not wearing a mask in a public space. The real reason for his detention was his Facebook post about using the medical professionals in building and cleaning works in preparation to the presidential visit.
  • AZERBAIJAN, BAKU: Independent journalist Vugar Mirzabek was detained by police officers at a student protest outside the Ministry of Education. He was fined for breaking quarantine regulations and later released.
  • BELARUS, GOMEL: A court fined the journalist Larisa Shchiryakovа after finding her guilty of illegally producing media content without a license on the Polish satellite television channel Belsat. On the 6th of April, the channel had reported on the first COVID-19 case and hospitalisation of 39 people in the village of Kommunar, including schoolchildren, their parents, teachers and the doctor in the local surgery.
  • MOROCCO, JORF EL MELHA: Blogger and activist Abdel Fattah Bouchikhi has been sentenced to four months in prison after he was charged with defamation over a social media post. On 5 May, Bouchikhi posted about corruption relating to the issuing of transport permits, which are necessary for travelling in Morocco during COVID-19.
  • MYANMAR, YANGON: Zaw Ye Htet, chief editor of online Myanma news agency Dae Pyaw, has been sentenced to two years in prison after the site published an erroneous article alleging there had been a death due to COVID-19 in the country’s eastern Karen state.