On February 5 the Committee to Protect Journalists published its annual report
on attacks on press in different countries of the world in 2006.
The CPJ report notes several alarming trends threatening press freedom in 2006.
These are targeted assassinations of journalists from Iraq to Russia, the rise
of popularly elected autocrats in Latin America, the erosion of neutral observers
status for war correspondents. 2006 was a record-setting year of violence in
Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed in the line of duty, the report stresses.
In the section of CPJ report, dealing with the situation in former USSR countries,
concern is expressed over lack of punishment for killing media representatives.
According to CPJ, from Ukraine to Turkmenistan, 46 journalists have been murdered
in the former Soviet states over the past 15 years, with 90% of the cases unsolved.
“The message from the authorities has been clear: when it comes to journalists,
you can get away with murder. This has had the intended chilling effect on media
coverage of sensitive issues of corruption, organized crime, human rights violations,
and abuse of power in countries such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaijan,
and Turkmenistan“, the report says.
In the brief overview of Armenia, two incidents that took place in media sphere
in 2006 are noted. On May 25 the authorities denied a license to the independent
“A1+” TV channel for the twelfth time. On June 26 the Chief Editor of “Zhamanak-Yerevan”
daily Arman Babajanian was arrested and further convicted – for document fraud
to evade military service. “The journalist did not dispute this allegation but
said the charge was pressed in retaliation for his work”, CPJ notes.