still fresh from the press, the documentation of RWB – a “MUST” on the subject
All conference contributions were recorded in full length by audio recording and can be made available to interested parties.
First joint results of the project can already be recorded here:
Typical for the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Russia/ EaP/R:
The concentration of the media under state and/or oligarchic structures
State structures in the media world can influence many areas of society in autocratic, repressive state structures. For instance, they can permanently influence citizens’ opinions in a targeted manner by controlling and prosecuting private media and even small bloggers, and weakening civil society through a policy of fear.
In Russia today, for example, there is an enormous, confusing number of restrictions that lead to repressive policies; the last example is the tightening of the paragraph on foreign agents, whereby private individuals who are only accused of contact with such accused persons can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. For example, § 288 of the Criminal Code-Russia about the activity as an extremist: Originally created only for the contact with terrorists, it does not delimit the terrorism, so that this law can be applied against unpopular organizations as well.
Furthermore, less concentrated concentration of power can stand against pluralism and media diversity. Armenia, for example, states: “We basically enjoy absolute freedom of expression after the Velvet Revolution, but our journalists are simply dependent on their employers, and these are oligarchs of the old authoritarian regime”.
The historically weak role of civil society in the former Soviet countries is not prepared for this modern strategy game. The members of the ISHR Belarus Section reports that within this project they were the first in their country to make disinformation the topic of discussion in the media. Strengthening civil society holds a high priority because only a strong civil society can counteract disinformation.
Due to the deficient pluralistic media landscape, the importance of social networks in these countries is increasing. Azerbaijan stated: “Social networks have become the most important source of information, and they are also used as a source by the media and the press”. But in this “open and closed” media world, it is hardly possible to verify what information or disinformation is.
All representatives of the EaP/R countries thanked the ISHR section Germany and the German Foreign Office for the promotion of this project. Through this annual project, they were able to successfully engage the local audience with disinformation and their works on this topic. On the one hand, the EaP/R countries have already become part of the ultramodern, fascinating, free world of the World Wide Web. On the other hand, they are still under the shadow of the Iron Curtain.
Together, they found out that this project and its three information events about disinformation in the media in their respective countries were significant and that it will continue to be an important issue even after the completion of the project. On the contrary, this work should definitely be continued and expanded. Especially in their countries, there is an immense need for discussion and information on the topic. Since the problems in the EaP/R countries share many similarities, and their works on human rights often involve serious personal risks, cooperation and solidarity are crucial.
Solidarity is not only needed among the EaP/R countries but also internationally!