Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Turkmenistan17 March 2005

Russian journalist detained and expelled

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the way the Turkmen authorities treated Viktor Panov of the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, who was deported on 12 March after being held for two weeks in Ashgabat. A foreign ministry official who did not want to be identified said Panov was accused of spying for Moscow.

"Even if Russia and Turkmenistan have not been on very good terms since 1991, journalists should not have to pay the consequences by being detained and expelled by force," the press freedom organization said. "Viktor Panov’s expulsion constitutes yet another violation of press freedom in a country where diversity of opinion has completely disappeared."

Panov, who holds both Turkmen and Russian nationality, was initially detained by police for several hours on 23 February for alleged "hooliganism." The next day he was arrested by two foreign ministry officials and placed in custody until he was put on a flight to Russia on 12 March.

The Russian human rights group Memorial said witnesses saw a handcuffed Panov at Ashgabat airport being escorted by several men in plain clothes on to a Moscow-bound flight.

Relations between Turkmenistan and Russia have been strained since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with Russia taking a great interest in its neighbour’s gas reserves but bristling at the treatment which the Russian minority receives from a government led by the "Father of all Turkmen," President-for-life Separmurad Nyazov.

Nyazov has ruled with an iron hand since 1985 and all the media have been turned into propaganda tools in the service of his personality cult. The few foreign journalists have been virtually all been "invited" to leave and expulsions are not uncommon.

  In this country
18 February - Turkmenistan
Details of jail where two journalists have been held for past two and a half years
4 February - Turkmenistan
In joint open letter, eight NGOs urge president to include imprisoned journalists in amnesty
8 January - Turkmenistan
RFE/RL provincial correspondents harassed and threatened by intelligence officers
12 December - Turkmenistan
Increased harassment of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty correspondents in run-up to parliamentary elections
1 October - Turkmenistan
Incomprehension at UN Human Rights Council’s refusal to name special rapporteur for Turkmenistan

in the annual report
Turkmenistan - Annual Report 2008
Turkmenistan - Annual report 2007
Turkmenistan - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison

Sign the petitions
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives