Friday, April 13, 2012

Who let the dogs out - a clarification

To update and clarify my earlier post on the concerns I have about using a repressive police agency against some bad journalism, it was not the National Alliance Saeima deputy Jānis Dombrava who complained to the Security Police about coverage of the events of March 16 in a television news spot on the Russian language First Baltic Channel (PBK). Dombrava actually complained to the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP, the Latvian abbreviation), which, in a sense, is the right place to go. It seems that the NEPLP then submitted the case to the Security Police - the agency that arrests economics lecturers for commenting on banks, the currency and the economy.
Dombrava explained his actions on Twitter but said he was pleased that the Security Police had taken the case. I find that worrisome, but I have set the facts straight as to how this case ended up in the hands of Latvia's neo-KGB lite. Sorry about the inaccuracy, Jānis.
Which brings me to the next point - should the NEPLP (or NEMC in English) be forging this kind of relationship with a repressive agency that has arrested and charged people for exercising free speech (which was clearly the case with the economist Dmitrijs Smirnovs in 2008)? The NEMC has its own means of censuring and administratively punishing the media. The Security Police should be kept as far as possible from any involvement in the content of electronic or other media. If anything, the case in question, where some anti-Semitic shouting on the soundtrack of a news spot was attributed or imputed, in the Russian translation, to the wrong person, merits this kind of censure or administrative action, at worst. There may also be a civil case by the man who was arguing (politely, with no anti-Semitic wording) with two representatives of the Anti-Fascist movement who were trying to restore the wreath they had laid (see the earlier post), since it was implied that he shouted "Jews do not belong here".  Not true, although someone did shout that and it would have been part of a story that, while the man, apparently representing the organizers of the Latvian Legion commemoration, was having a tense discussion with the Anti-Fascists, someone did shout something against Jews.
As for the NEMC, please use your own tools for settling matters with media distortions and inaccuracies. To use the Security Police is so post-Soviet. 

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