Press freedom up in Latvia but «two-speed freedom» noted

Latvia has moved to 24th place from 28th in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). 

The index ranks 180 countries on indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, the rule of law, transparency, as well as abuses.

The top five countries for press freedom were Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway, while China, Syria, North Korea, and Eritrea ranked lowest.

Press freedom went up in Latvia despite the report noting "a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels".

In Latvia's country profile, it is pointed out at RSF that there's a difference between media served in Latvian and Russian.

"The Latvian-language media enjoy a great deal of independence. But the media that serve the one third of Latvians who speak Russian are strong supporters of the pro-Kremlin Harmony party and are full of propaganda." 

The comment on Russian media has been met harshly by Latvia's journalistic community reporting in Russian.

"The description has nothing in common with reality. It is so outworldish that it does not deserve any further comment," said Alex Krasnitsky, editor-in-chief of LSM's Russian Service.

While Anatoly Golubov, editor in chief at the Delfi.lv Russian-language service, said he believes that "the person responsible for the Latvian part of RSF report is simply unprofessional and has no grasp of the situation. If that is the case, the very report itself becomes questionable."

"But there also is 'option B' -- that an 'expert' dealing with Latvia for some reason reproduces politically motivated stereotypes without questioning them for a moment. And there are a lot of questions in this case as well.

No, not all Latvian-language media enjoy the freedom of press and no, not all Russian-language media are Kremlin propaganda-infused supporters of Harmony Party," Golubov told LSM.

The rankings were determined by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire devised by RSF.

Estonia lost four places, moving to 14th place, as did Lithuania, moving from 31st to 35th place. 

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