Fourteen European countries, led by Iceland, head Reporters Without Borders list of countries where news media freedom is most respected.
But the group, in its annual World Press Freedom index noted some problems. It ranks Russia as 144th of 164 countries with regard to media freedom. It specifically mentions last year's murder of independent journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, the government's failure to punish those responsible for murdering journalists and the lack of diversity in the news media as factors.
In Eastern Europe, the report expressed concern over conditions in Bulgaria (number 51) after authorities dropped charges against police officers who had physically attacked journalists. It also criticized Poland (number 56) for failure to decriminalize news media offenses. The report specifically mentioned an increase in prosecution of journalists since President Lech Kaczynski took office in 2005 and his brother Jaroslaw became prime minister several months later.
The report noted improvement in such countries as France, which climbed seven places to 37th. It said Italy halted its slide of recent years and was listed 35th, while Germany was 20th. It noted that the Netherlands fell to 12th after the detention of two newspaper journalists for failing to disclose their sources