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Voice of America, 98-01-18

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>


CONTENTS

  • [01] AZERBAIJAN / ARMENIA / MEDIA BY PHIL KURATA (WASHINGTON)
  • [02] BOSNIA POL (S ONLY) BY ART CHIMES (PRAGUE)

  • [01] AZERBAIJAN / ARMENIA / MEDIA BY PHIL KURATA (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=1/17/98
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-38702
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: TWO FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS, ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN, ARE GROPING TOWARD DEMOCRACY AND FREE MARKETS WHILE BOTH CLING TO VESTIGES OF COMMUNISM. MEDIA FREEDOM, ONE BAROMETER OF DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT, HAS GROWN BUT REMAINS RESTRICTED IN THE TWO CAUCASUS COUNTRIES, WHICH HAVE FOUGHT IN AN ETHNIC WAR SINCE THE SOVIET COLLAPSE. V-O-A CORRESPONDENT PHIL KURATA LOOKS AT THE DIFFERENT WAYS AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT HAIDAR ALIYEV AND ARMENIAN PRESIDENT LEVON TER-PETROSSIAN HANDLE THEIR LOCAL MEDIA.

    TEXT: THE ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT HAS A DOUBLE EDGED ATTITUDE TOWARD THE MEDIA. ON ONE HAND, THE GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT LEVON TER-PETROSSIAN PRIDES ITSELF FOR HAVING ELIMINATED CENSORSHIP LAWS. ON THE OTHER, THE ARMENIAN OFFICIALS ARE REPORTED TO USE VERBAL THREATS, HARASSMENT AND PHYSICAL VIOLENCE TO COERCE REPORTERS TO MODERATE THEIR SOMETIMES FIERY RHETORIC.

    NICHOLAS DANILOFF, A DISTINGUISHED JOURNALIST WHO HAS SPENT MUCH OF HIS CAREER REPORTING ON THE FORMER SOVIET UNION, HAS JUST COMPLETED A STUDY ON MEDIA CONDITIONS IN ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN (FOR THE NEW YORK-BASED COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS). HE GIVES AN EXAMPLE OF THE INFLAMMATORY LANGUAGE THAT ARMENIAN REPORTERS ARE PRONE TO USE.

    /// DANILOFF ACT ///

    THIS NEWSPAPER (IRAVUNK, AS HEARD) SAID THE FOLLOWING AND I QUOTE. "TODAY IT IS SAD TO NOTE THAT ARMENIA HAS TURNED INTO A COUNTRY WHERE EVERY DEVELOPMENT IN GOVERNMENT HAS LOST ITS REAL PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE AND HAS BECOME MERELY A CLAIM. THE AUTHORITIES ARE SEEN NOT AS SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE BUT AS BANDIT GROUPS. THE COURT SYSTEM IS PERCEIVED AS BRIBE TAKING TRIBUNALS. THE PARLIAMENT, THE TOOL OF SMALL AND BIG CLANS. DEMOCRACY, AS THE DEMOGOGIC EXPLANATION OF A DICTATORSHIP. AND ELECTIONS AS TRICKERY." FREE PRESS.

    MR. DANILOFF SAYS THAT SORT OF HEATED RHETORIC IS ONE HALF OF A VICIOUS CIRCLE OF BAD RELATIONS BETWEEN THE ARMENIAN PRESS AND GOVERNMENT. HE SAYS PRESIDENT LEVON TER-PETROSSIAN DESPISES THE ARMENIAN PRESS AND RARELY GIVES INTERVIEWS TO LOCAL REPORTERS.

    MR. DANILOFF HAS DOCUMENTED CASES WHERE ARMENIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE USED HARASSMENT, BEATINGS AND JAILINGS TO INTIMIDATE REPORTERS. HE SAYS THE ARMENIAN MEDIA COMMUNITY SHOWS LOW LEVELS OF INITIATIVE AND INNOVATION COMPARED TO AZERBAIJAN REPORTERS WHO SHOW SURPRISING VITALITY.

    AZERBAIJAN HAS RETAINED ITS SOVIET-ERA CENSORSHIP LAWS AND SUBJECTS ITS RECALCITRANT REPORTERS TO THE SAME FORMS OF MISTREATMENT THAT ARMENIA DOES. BUT MR. DANILOFF SAYS THE MOOD IN AZERBAIJAN IS EBULLIENT, WHEREAS IT IS DEPRESSED IN ARMENIA.

    AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT MR. DANILOFF CALLS AZERBAIJAN'S JOURNALISTIC PLUCK IS MONITOR MAGAZINE. THE GLOSSY MONTHLY RECENTLY HAS RUN SUCH PIECES AS "DO WE NEED CENSORSHIP?," "FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN AZERBAIJAN," AND "THE GREAT SEXUAL REVOLUTION."

    THESE TOPICS WOULD HAVE BEEN UNTHINKABLE DURING SOVIET TIMES, AND AZERBAIJAN JOURNALISTS SAY THEY HOPE FOR AN EXPANSION OF MEDIA FREEDOM IN THE FUTURE.

    AZERBAIJAN PRESIDENT HAIDAR ALIYEV HAS ALLOWED AN INDEPENDENT TELEVISION STATION TO EXIST AND IS SAID TO UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR GOOD RELATIONS WITH THE MEDIA. THE POPULAR PRESIDENT'S DOMINANCE OF THE STATE-RUN TELEVISION GENERATES HUMOR AMONG HIS PEOPLE, AS EVIDENCED BY A JOKE RELATED BY MR. DANILOFF.

    /// DANILOFF ACT ///

    THERE IS A JOKE THAT GOES AROUND BAKU ABOUT A BROKEN TELEVISION SET AND HOW YOU GET IT MENDED. A HOME OWNER WHO HAS A TELEVISION SET CAN NOT GET CHANNEL ONE ANYMORE AND IS HAVING DIFFICULTY GETTING CHANNEL TWO. HE CALLS THE REPAIRMAN TO COME IN AND WORK ON IT. THE REPAIRMAN SAYS, "LOOK, I CAN FIX CHANNEL ONE VERY EASILY, BUT FOR CHANNEL TWO I HAVE TO GO BACK AND GET SOME MORE PARTS." THE MAN TELLS THE REPAIRMAN TO FIX CHANNEL ONE. THE REPAIRMAN TAKES OUT OF HIS POCKET A PICTURE OF PRESIDENT ALIYEV AND PASTES IT OVER THE SCREEN.

    /// END ACT ///

    MR. DANILOFF SAYS THE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN THE MEDIA IN AZERBAIJAN AND ARMENIA ARE VULNERABLE TO CORRUPTION THAT PERVADES THEIR SOCIETIES. HE CITES AN EXAMPLE OF AN AZERBAIJAN TELEVISION CREW RECEIVING A PAYOFF FROM POLICE WHEN THEY COVERED A POLICE-RELATED STORY.

    /// DANILOFF ACT ///

    A TELEVISION CORRESPONDENT WHO WORKED FOR AZERI TELEVISION CHANNEL NUMBER ONE. GOING OUT TO COVER A STORY WITH A CAMERAMAN, HE WAS APPROACHED BY THE CAMERAMAN. THEY WERE DOING SOME KIND OF A POLICE STORY. THE CAMERAMAN SAID TO HIM, "YOUR PACKET IS IN YOUR BAG." THEN WHEN HE LOOKED AT THE PACKET, OF COURSE IT WAS A PACKET OF MONEY, WHICH HAD BEEN GIVEN BY THE POLICE BOTH TO THE CAMERAMAN AND THE CORRESPONDENT TO ENSURE FAVORABLE COVERAGE.

    /// END ACT ///

    MR. DANILOFF SAYS THE UNITED STATES COULD CONTRIBUTE TO AZERBAIJAN'S MEDIA GROWTH BY RESCINDING A LAW THAT BLOCKS U-S AID TO THE AZERBAIJAN GOVERNMENT. FORMER U-S SECRETARY OF STATE HENRY KISSINGER AND FORMER U-S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER BRENT SCOWCROFT CONCUR.

    THE LAW BLOCKS THE U-S GOVERNMENT FROM PROVIDING ENGLISH LANGUAGE INTRUCTION TO MOST AZERBAIJAN UNIVERSITIES AND PREVENTS THE UNITED STATES FROM INVITING AZERBAIJAN JOURNALISTS

    WHO WORK FOR STATE MEDIA FROM PARTICIPATING IN PROFESSIONAL TRAINING PROGRAMS. (SIGNED)
    NEB/PK/SD
    17-Jan-98 8:10 PM EST (0110 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [02] BOSNIA POL (S ONLY) BY ART CHIMES (PRAGUE)

    DATE=1/18/98
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-225437
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: A PRO-WESTERN POLITICIAN HAS BEEN CHOSEN TO HEAD THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SERB PART OF BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. V-O-A CORRESPONDENT ART CHIMES IS FOLLOWING THE STORY FROM OUR BUREAU IN PRAGUE.

    TEXT: THE BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT ELECTED MILORAD DODIK AFTER HARDLINE NATIONALISTS WALKED OUT OF THE SESSION.

    MR. DODIK WAS THE CHOICE OF BIJLANA PLAVSIC, THE MORE-MODERATE OF THE TWO NATIONALIST FACTION LEADERS IN BOSNIA'S SERB REPUBLIC. BUT THE NEW BOSNIAN SERB PRIME MINISTER IS NOT DIRECTLY TIED EITHER TO THE PLAVSIC CAMP OR TO THE HARDLINE GROUP LOYAL TO INDICTED WAR CRIMES SUSPECT RADOVAN KARADZIC.

    THE ELECTION OF MILORAD DODIK MAY SATISFY THE WESTERN POWERS, WHO HAD THREATENED TO NAME A PRIME MINISTER IF THE BOSNIAN SERBS FAILED TO CHOOSE ONE. BUT IT ALSO COULD HARDEN DIVISIONS BETWEEN THE TWO BOSNIAN SERB FACTIONS. MR. DODIK WAS ELECTED BY A BARE MAJORITY, WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF ANY OF THE HARDLINERS. (SIGNED)
    NEB / TM / WD
    18-Jan-98 5:56 AM EST (1056 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


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