MOSCOW - The Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) has welcomed a recent improvement in the media freedom situation in Afghanistan, but voiced its concern over the challenges facing Afghan journalists.
During a recent meeting with a team of Afghan journalists in Moscow, RUJ Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov said greater freedom of expression and media would benefit Afghanistan. His union supported their Afghan counterparts, he added.
"Although media outlets in Afghanistan have improved and are optimistic about their future. Unfortunately, I am concerned regarding the challenges Afghan journalists are facing in their country," the unionist remarked.
He called inadequate cooperation between Russian and Afghan media professionals a dark chapter. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans and Russians were killed, he lamented.
The gap between the two nations was hurting the interests of both, believed the RUJ head, who hoped the visit of Afghan journalists would lead to mutually beneficial cooperation.
RUJ planned to conduct an international conference in coming years in Turkey under the title "Save Journalism" and "Trust Building Between Peoples and Governments". Afghan journalists and media activists will be invited to the event.
At a separate meeting, Pavel Andreyev, Executive Director for International Cooperation at RIA Novosti news agency, said news from Afghanistan had its special journalistic value. They did not rely on the western media in monitoring the situation in Afghanistan.
Andreyev said they wanted to develop strong relations and cooperation with Afghan media organizations.
Siddiqullah Tawhidi, the director of NAI -- supporting open media in Afghanistan -- claimed the freedom of expression in his country was unparalleled in the region. Over the past 10 years, more than 50 TV channels, 147 radio stations and hundreds of publications have been launched in the country.
Although there are many challenges to the media due to current security conditions, Afghan news organizations would continue to defend their hard-won freedom and rights, he added.
The week-long visit, organized by the Afghanistan Journalists Centre (AFJC), was sponsored by the Foundation for Public Diplomacy Support, Russia's premier news agency, RIA Novosti, and the Centre for Contemporary Afghan Studies. The trip concluded on Saturday.
The 12-member delegation visited the offices of RIA Novosti, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), Kommersant daily, 1st Russian TV and the Journalism Institute, said Ahmad Quraishi, the director of AFJC, who was part of the delegation.
The delegation also met Russian President's Special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and Afghan ambassador Azizullah Karzai. It was for the time in a decade that Afghan journalist and experts visited Moscow. (Pajhwok)