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Slovakia


December 11

Jonathan C. Randal, The Washington Post


The U.N. International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY) ruled to limit compelled testimony from war correspondents. The decision, announced at the tribunal's Appeals Chamber, came in response to the appeal by former Washington Post reporter Jonathan C. Randal, who had been subpoenaed to testify in the case of former Bosnian-Serb housing minister Radoslav Brdjanin, who is facing charges of genocide because of his alleged role in the persecution and expulsion of more than 100,000 non-Serbs during the Bosnian war. The subpoena against Randal was set aside, and he is no longer required to testify.
Emboldened by the growing number of U.S. troops in the country, President Askar Akayev has used the threat of international terrorism as an excuse to curb political dissent and suppress the independent and opposition media in Kyrgyzstan. Compliant courts often issue exorbitant damage awards in politically motivated libel suits, driving even the country's most prominent newspapers to the brink of bankruptcy.

Press freedom is generally respected in Slovenia, but journalists investigating sensitive issues continue to face occasional intimidation or pressure in retaliation for their coverage.
Press freedom is generally respected in the United Kingdom, but CPJ was alarmed by a legal case in which Interbrew, a Belgium-based brewing group, and the British Financial Services Authority (FSA), a banking and investment watchdog agency, demanded that several U.K. media outlets turn over documents that had been leaked to them. The case threatened to erode the media's ability to protect sources, and to deter whistle-blowers from talking with the press.

As Slovakia adopts political reforms aimed at European Union membership, the government remains slow to change press laws and revamp the state-run media. Criminal libel cases against journalists and political influence over media outlets also hindered the Slovak press in 2001.

POLITICAL REFORMS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH, along with the advent of democratic governments in Croatia and Serbia, brightened the security prospects for journalists in Central Europe and the Balkans. In contrast, Russian's new government imposed press restrictions, and authoritarian regimes entrenched themselves in other countries of the former Soviet Union, particularly in Central Asia, further threatening the independent press.

CPJ confirmed that in 2000, five journalists were killed as a result of their reporting in Europe and Central Asia. In Russia, two journalists were killed in Chechnya, and one in Moscow. (CPJ could not confirm the motives for the killings of four other journalists in Russia during the year.) In Ukraine, the disappearance and murder of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze highlighted the extreme vulnerability of independent journalists in that country. And in a rare Western European case, a Spanish journalist was killed in response to his coverage of the Basque separatist group ETA.
SLOVAKIA'S RULING COALITION LACKS IDEOLOGICAL COHERENCE, aside from a common aversion to former prime minister Vladimir Meciar and his nationalist HZDS party. Internal bickering and power struggles have slowed government decision-making and the pace of political reform.

Direct political pressure on journalists has declined significantly since Meciar left office in late 1998, but the lack of a clear policy on media reform has limited the independence of journalists, particularly in the state-run media.
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Europe and Central Asia

Program Coordinator:
Nina Ognianova

Research Associate:
Muzaffar Suleymanov

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msuleymanov@cpj.org

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