Eastern Europe

The region of Eastern Europe includes the nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

For more than two decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians. This has led to difficulties for some journalists, such as a team from a Finnish broadcaster denied entry into Armenia in 2011. Government officials apparently believed the journalists were working on behalf of Azerbaijan, a charge their producer denied.

In Azerbaijan, the Overseas Press Club condemned a government effort in 2009 to interfere with the broadcasts of foreign radio stations. And in 2011, the OPC expressed concern about “hostility to a free press at the highest levels,” linking such attitudes to the imprisonment of Eynulla Fatullayev, a newspaper editor, and a failure to hold accountable the killers of Elmar Huseynov, a magazine editor.

Belarus has been a hotbed of media oppression in recent years, with police raids on newsrooms and journalists’ homes, imprisonment of journalists, and official blocking of critical news web sites. Natalya Radina, an editor for web site Charter 97, was jailed and eventually left the country; she won a Press Freedom award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The death of the same site’s founder, Aleh Byabenin, has gone unexamined, according to CPJ. Irina Khalip, a correspondent for Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and wife of an opposition candidate for president, was put under house arrest and given a two-year suspended prison sentence after reporting on protests against what CPJ called a “fraudulent” presidential vote.

Conditions in the Czech Republic are far better, but even there journalists note the persistence of laws that make coverage of corruption difficult.

In Ukraine, domestic journalists have faced harassment, censorship and brutality. The secret trial of an Interior Ministry official implicated in the 2000 murder of online journalist Georgy Gongadze had languished by the end of 2011, CPJ reports; charges against former president Leonid Kuchma in the same case were dropped. An investigation into the case of Vasyl Klymentyev, an editor who disappeared in 2010 after reporting on corruption, remained incomplete. The OPC’s Freedom of the Press Committee wrote Ukraine’s president in August 2010 that “the level of harassment, attacks and violence on the working press in Ukraine seems to be escalating to a new and dangerous level despite the best effort of news organizations around the world to enlist your support for basic press freedoms.” The OPC cited examples including broadcast stations forced from the airwaves and violence against several specific journalists.

Please note that some European countries often considered “eastern” are grouped in other regions on the Global Parachute site. Poland and Hungary, for example, are in the Western Europe region; Romania and Bulgaria are in the Balkans region.