Press release, Kirkenes, Murmansk, Luleå, Oulu, September 29th 2015
On Monday 28th of September, Thomas Nilsen was fired from his position as chief editor of the online news site BarentsObserver by the owners of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the three Northern Norwegian county administrations.
STATEMENT FROM BARENTS PRESS INTERNATIONAL, CONCERNING THE RESTRICTION OF BARENTSOBSERVERS' EDITORIAL FREEDOM
Karelian journalists nominate officials for "Gag" anti-award
Every year Karelian journalists honor their best-performing colleagues by giving them various prestigious awards. Also, they name the high-ranking government officials hampering the media's work.
The criteria for selecting nominees for the anti-award called "Gag" are fairly simple. Those officials who decline to comment on socially significant developments, or interfere with journalists' work, or hide behind their press services unaware that power structures must be transparent and fully open to public scrutiny, are all likely to be nominated for the anti-award.
This year's group of "Gag" nominees included Karelia's Culture and PR Minister Galina Brun; Finance Minister Sergey Mikhailov; Communal Reform Committee head Vladimir Koryagin; Construction Deputy Minister Alexander Yefimov; Chief Bailiff Yevgeny Dyogot and others. But the most frequently mentioned name was that of Anatoly Kovalenko, chief of Karelia's Consumer Rights Defense and Public Wellbeing Supervisory Service, and it was to him that the anti-award finally went based on the voting results.
When the names of the "Gag" nominees were made public, two of the agencies concerned (the Culture Ministry and the Bailiffs) called the Journalists' Union to find out why the journalists had so critically assessed their leaders' performance. That did not look like idle curiosity. Hopefully, the two high-ranking officials' names will not reappear on the list of "Gag" nominees next year.
Glasnost Defense Foundation staff correspondent