VILNIUS, LITHUANIA —
Belarusian authorities have raided the offices of several media outlets and the homes of scores of journalists under a multi-pronged crackdown on dissent and free speech in the ex-Soviet nation, a media watchdog said Friday.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists, or BAJ, said the country’s law enforcement agencies have conducted nearly 30 searches at media outlets and journalists’ apartments and detained at least seven journalists in the past two days.
“A new wave of repression that is unprecedented in scope and cruelty has targeted the independent media,” said BAJ leader Andrei Bastunets. “The authorities arbitrarily designate any journalist as an extremist.”
On Thursday, Belarusian authorities blocked the website of Nasha Niva, a leading independent online newspaper, raided its offices and detained its chief editor Yahor Martsinovich and several other staffers for questioning.
Agents of the Belarusian state security agency, which still goes under its Soviet-era name, KGB, also conducted searches at several regional media outlets and detained several journalists.
The crackdown continued Friday, with KGB officers raiding the apartments of Nasta Zanko, a journalist of the independent Onliner.by news outlet in Minsk and journalists Andrey Kukharchyk and Maksim Khlyabets in Brest, on the border with Poland.
They also searched the apartment of journalist Tanya Smotkina in the town of Glubokoye in Belarus’ north, and the offices of Informprogulka and Media-Polesye media outlets in Luninets and a local newspaper in Hantsevichi in the country’s west.
Overall, 32 Belarusian journalists are currently in custody, either serving their sentences or awaiting trial, the Belarusian Association of Journalists said.
Konstantin Bychek, a deputy head of the KGB’s investigative department, said the raids and arrests were part of a broad sweep against “radical-minded individuals.”
Bychek alleged that those targeted are suspected of involvement in helping to stage “mass disturbances and even acts of terrorism.”
The independent media and journalists targeted in the crackdown have covered months of protests against Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, which were triggered by his reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that was widely seen as rigged.
The authorities responded to demonstrations with a massive crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police.
Leading opposition figures have been either jailed or forced to leave the country.
The European Union and the United States have responded to the crackdown by slapping Belarus with sanctions.
They also imposed new, tougher restrictions after Belarus diverted a passenger jet on May 23 to arrest an opposition journalist.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition candidate in the election who fled to neighboring Lithuania after the vote, urged the EU to respond to the crackdown on independent media by ramping up pressure on Lukashenko’s government.
“The attack on the Belarusian media indicates that the regime is scaling up repressions and the democratic nations’ response to that must be maximally harsh,” Tsikhanouskaya told The Associated Press. “We expect the EU to expand its sanctions list to include the collaborators of the regime who take part in today’s repressions.”
The Justice Department subpoenas follow an ongoing probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Digital World broke rules by having substantial talks about buying Trump’s company starting early last year before Digital World sold stock to the public for the first time in September, just weeks before its announcement that it would be buying Trump’s company.
Trump’s social media venture launched in February as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech limits on speech, a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The Trump Media & Technology Group – which operates the Truth Social app and was in the process of being acquired by Digital World – said in a statement that it will cooperate with “oversight that supports the SEC’s important mission of protecting retail investors.”
The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company. The company last year got promises from dozens of investors to pump $1 billion into the company, but it can’t get the cash until the Digital World acquisition is completed.
Stock in Digital World rocketed to more than $100 in October after its deal to buy Trump’s company was announced. The stock traded at just around $25 in morning trading Monday.
Digital World is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, part of an investing phenomenon that exploded in popularity over the past two years.
2:24 U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
Such “blank-check” companies are empty corporate entities with no operations, only offering investors the promise they will buy a business in the future. As such they are allowed to sell stock to the public quickly without the usual regulatory disclosures and delays, but only if they haven’t already lined up possible acquisition targets.
Digital World said in a regulatory filing Monday that each member of its board of directors has been subpoenaed by the grand jury in the Southern District of New York. Both the grand jury and the SEC are also seeking a number of documents tied to the company and others including a sponsor, ARC Global Investments, and Miami-based venture capital firm Rocket One Capital.
Some of the sought documents involve “due diligence” regarding Trump Media and other potential acquisition targets, as well as communications with Digital World’s underwriter and financial adviser in its initial public offering, according to the SEC disclosure.
Digital World also Monday announced the resignation of one of its board members, Bruce Garelick, a chief strategy officer at Rocket One.
Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.
It should be obvious I’m not a big fan of Michael “Mosquito Mike” Janz, the city councillor most responsible for ending the city’s mosquito-spraying program. The flying pests are noticeably worse this summer; I’ve got the bites to prove it.
Thanks, Mosquito Mike.
In general, I don’t care for Janz’s politics and especially his anti-police harangues. Check out his Twitter feed. He complains about police about once a month, sometimes even more often.
He accuses them of race and class double standards. He thinks they slough off investigations of alleged crimes against lower-income Edmontonians and routinely mislead the public to cover their own misdeeds.
I find it particularly detestable that he is alleged recently to have retweeted a post from a Calgary account referring to police as “pigs.”
(Calling the police “pigs” is not only detestable, but laughably archaic, too. Hey, Councillor, the late ’60s called. They want their tie-dyed shirt and peace medallion back. Groovy, man.)
Yet, so long as Janz must account to his voters, he should be free to tweet and retweet as he sees fit. The relationship is between the electors and their elected representative. If they disapprove of his online behaviour, they can vote him out of office.
Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.
It should be up to the voters who elected Janz to punish him, if they so desire, not some appointed adjudicator who doesn’t answer to voters directly.
A complaint has been filed with the integrity commissioner, Jamie Pytel, by sometimes local Liberal candidate, Thomas Deak. In the complaint, Deak says Janz retweeted the following post, “So this week a co-worker got a $409 ticket for failing to stop his bike at a stop sign. It was 7 a.m. in a residential area, the roads were empty, except for the pig hiding in the bushes.”
Get outraged. Compose an email to the Sun. Post your own tweet condemning Mosquito Mike for his retweeting of juvenile, anti-police name-calling.
But don’t go running to the censor asking her to clap Janz in irons just because you find his opinion (in this case his second-hand opinion) infuriating. Grow up. This is a democracy. We get to have opinions, even unpleasant ones, so long as we respect the right of others to opinions we vehemently disagree with.
Remember, that any government tool that can be used to hush-up your opponents will almost most certainly be turned on you one day, too.
I find it hilarious that Janz, in his own defence, insists there is a plot to “erroneously paint me as some sort of anti-police radical.” Nothing “could be further from the truth.”
Apparently, in his own mind, Janz is a big fan of police.
But remember, Janz was recently also hauled before the integrity commish for tweeting, liking or retweeting nearly two dozen anti-police posts near the end of last year.
Hmm, he certainly has an odd way of showing his love and respect for the Edmonton Police Service.
Own it, councillor. You don’t like the cops much.
But that is his right. He gets to have a seat on council and hold juvenile, archaic, anti-police opinions until the voters in his ward tire of his schtick and punt him from office.
Even after that, he still gets to hold his objectionable views, he just can’t do it as a councillor anymore.
In his run-in with Pytel earlier this year, Janz was not sanctioned by Edmonton’s in-house play-nice-children scold.
And he shouldn’t have been, just as he shouldn’t be reprimanded now.
The whole integrity commissioner ideal just gets in the way of democracy.
OMG’s OMD Worldwide Named Media Network of the Year
NEW YORK, June 27, 2022/CNW/ — With a combination of accolades and headline-making announcements, Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the media services division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) was a dominant presence at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
On the accolades front, OMG agencies earned a total of 39 Lions and its OMD agency, the largest global media network by billings, was named Media Network of the Year. This marks the second consecutive year that an OMG agency took the Network of the Year title, which was awarded to PHD in 2021.
Concurrent with its performance in the competition, OMG earned headlines each day of the festival, announcing a series of first-mover collaborations with retail media networks, as well as the global expansion of its TRKKNanalytics and ad consultancy that is one of the largest Google Marketing Platform (GMP) partners in Europe.
OMG’s Lions’ Share The 39 Lions earned by OMG agencies – 7 Gold, 13 Silver and 19 Bronze – encompassed work from APAC, EMEA, North America and LATAM, spanning the automotive, CPG, Beverage Technology and Travel sectors; and including competition categories that reflect a wide range of both established and emerging priorities for clients – from data-driven targeting and insights to integrated media to corporate purpose and responsibility.
A strong global footprint was also evident in OMD’s Media Network of the Year award, with work from Portugal, France and Australia helping fuel the agency’s win.
“Being named Media Network of the Year is especially meaningful coming at a time when brands are re-evaluating their business, marketing and technology operations to better address new realities – both economic and cultural,” said George Manas, CEO, OMD Worldwide. “They need a trusted partner in transformation – and this recognition helps confirm that OMD is that partner.”
Taking the Lead in Connected Commerce During the Cannes festival OMG announced four first-mover strategic partnerships with retail media networks, beginning Monday, June 20, with Walmart Connect announcing their first-ever agency holding company partnership with Omnicom. The agreement will enable cross-screen planning against Walmart audiences in Omni – Omnicom’s open operating system which orchestrates better outcomes for clients across the entire consumer purchasing journey – allowing Omnicom’s agencies to deliver connected experiences across media and commerce platforms with-in owned, earned, and paid environments.
Over the next three days, OMG also revealed details of its partnership with Instacart, that will help Omnicom clients better understand how media spend drives purchase of products on that platform; how Amazon is supporting OMG’s eCommerce training and certification programs; and its collaboration with Kroger Precision Marketing that will allow planners to optimize in-market retail media, utilizing shopper behavior data to shift spend based on product availability, and still have the flexibility to optimize media while maintaining national consumer demand.
Describing the collective impact of the announcements, Omnicom eCommerce CEO Frank Kochenash said, “With each collaboration, we are adding another layer of unique capabilities to a connected commerce offering that encompasses the totality of client investment across all media channels, screens and environments.”
A Global Expansion for the Cookieless World OMG wrapped the industry’s most global of events with news of a global expansion, announcing on the last day of the festival that it is expanding TRKKN- its digital analytics ad technology and cloud consultancy that is one of the largest Google Marketing Platform sales partners across the European market – to APAC, the Middle East and North America. The expansion will assure global best practices that enable GMP & GCP efficiency and effectiveness, while also giving OMG greater flexibility to help in-housed media operations manage their Google marketing and cloud stacks to drive better business results in the cookieless future.
Summing up the desired takeaway from OMG’s high profile throughout Cannes 2022, OMG global CEO Florian Adamski says, “People were coming to Cannes this year looking for more than the big parties – they wanted big ideas and big actions that will help them solve the big challenges that we as an industry are all facing: privacy, connected commerce, measurement, the cookieless future, talent. Through the work we submitted, the partnerships we announced, the capabilities we’re expanding, and the close to 20 thought-leader forums we hosted over the week with clients and partners, I think the net takeaway for marketers is obvious: OMG is meeting these challenges- and we can help you meet them, too.”
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