Дайджест
22 Ноября 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 592

19 November 2012

 

RUSSIA

Novaya Gazeta observer from Ryazan summoned for questioning to Moscow

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Sergei Yezhov, an observer for Novaya Gazeta v Ryazani (NGR), has told the GDF he received a summons to Moscow for questioning. “On 20 November, I am to be questioned by investigator R. Gazizov of the Krasnoselsky district police department in Moscow, travelling there at my own expense, of course,” he said.

According to Yezhov, Gazizov is the same investigator who tried hard to get the journalist’s wife Sofia Yezhova, an NGR staff member and a freelance reporter for Kasparov.ru, questioned first. In September, Sofia was stopped near her house by three plain-clothed men, who showed their police IDs and said they were to escort her to Moscow for questioning in connection with a criminal case opened back in 2009. They did not supply any further details. When Yezhova refused to go with them, they called the local police to take her to Moscow by force. The lady had a heart attack, and an arriving team of paramedics rushed her to hospital, Radio Liberty reported.

Another attempt to get her to Moscow for questioning was made a month later: on 12 October, Moscow police officers detained Yezhova in Ryazan, pushed her into a vehicle with no license plates and drove her out of town. Yezhova’s lawyer was fast enough to report the incident to the local police. The vehicle was stopped near a traffic-police post, but was released soon: according to the regional police press service, Moscow colleagues had warned the police in Ryazan they might carry out an operation on their territory. After several hours of questioning by Gazizov, Yezhova was released – at about midnight. “They just kicked me out into the street in a strange city without a passport or any other ID,” Sofia wrote in her Twitter.

Two days later, Sergei Yezhov was attacked in the district administration headquarters in Sarai village, where he had come to file a complaint with the territorial election committee about some law violations he had seen at one of the local polling stations. As he was leaving the office, an unknown man knocked him down with a hard fist blow and warned him he might not leave town alive.

“They just won’t leave me alone,” Sergei wrote on the NGR website. “They’ve attacked me, and searched my home, but they don’t seem to be satisfied still. Isn’t that enough, really?”

The journalist noted that although he has been summoned for questioning as a witness, his status may be easily changed. “They are investigating some old unsolved crime,” he wrote. “It’s quite possible they just want to make a scapegoat of me.”

The Glasnost Defence Foundation will closely follow the developments.

Senator’s daughter and her ex-husband insist on further hearings of their legal claims

Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Olga Shubina, daughter of Igor Shubin, an ex-mayor of Perm turned member of the RF Federation Council, has succeeded in having a court cancel the judicial decision of 9 July 2012 that shelved her legal claim against the newspaper Zvezda in view of her twice failing to appear in court. Although duly notifying her of the scheduled hearings, the Motovilikhinsky district court in Perm found her holiday leave and an urgent business trip to another city to be valid excuses for her non-attendance.

As we have reported (see digests 541, 560, 561 and 576), the senator’s daughter claimed hurt by the publication “Criminal Record” (Zvezda, 1 March 2011) about her ex-husband and Senator Shubin’s former son-in-law Artyom Lukin, who was thrice convicted of robbery, deliberate infliction of grievous bodily harm resulting in the victim’s death, and misappropriation of huge sums of money. Released on parole on 6 December 2011, Lukin lodged a legal claim against the journalists who circulated information about his criminal past without his consent. His ex-wife filed a legal claim too, copying it word for word from Lukin’s; her and her ex-husband’s interests in court were represented by one and the same lawyer.

The plaintiffs described the information about the degree of their family relationship to Senator Shubin “libellous and smearing” and claimed an apology and a total of 1.5 million roubles in moral damages from Zvezda. Their failure to appear in court last summer caused Judge Anna Slavinskaya to shelve their honour-and-dignity defence claims against what they thought to be the “unlawful gathering” of information and “unlawful disclosure” of their personal data.

The civil case files include a letter from the regional branch of Roskomnadzor [federal agency overseeing public communications], certifying that the journalists acted in full compliance with law while preparing and publishing the disputed story. Written explanations supplied by the defendants cite the convictive sentence (in full legal force) passed by Perm’s Leninsky district court in Lukin’s fraud case on 30 November 2009. Witnesses and victims testified in court at the time that Lukin had been introduced to them as the Perm mayor’s son-in-law having extensive connections in the city administration. In the sentence’s preamble, Shubina was identified as the defence lawyer for Lukin.

The next hearing of Shubina’s legal claim in the Motovilikhinsky district court is scheduled for 10 December. Meanwhile, the regional court of Perm has passed a decision on a similar conflict between businessman Konstantin Dzikanyuk and the local newspaper Business Class. The court stated that information contained in court sentences and verdicts does not belong to the category of information that is prohibited for gathering, keeping, use or circulation without the consent of the persons concerned. Moreover, pursuant to Article 1 of the RF Media Law, the search for, or gathering, production and distribution of, mass information shall not be subject to restriction, the regional court’s decision said.

 

KAZAKHSTAN

The Adil Soz media rights watchdog presents a brief report on media freedom in Kazakhstan in October 2012

General situation

The Boards of the Kazakhstani Journalists’ Union and Chief Editors’ Club held a joint sitting on 30 October to adopt a Code of Journalistic Ethics developed at the initiative of President Nazarbayev. As stated in the preamble, the Code is “an instrument of self-discipline and a moral and ethical benchmark contributing to the attainment of trust in, and respect for, journalists and the media”. The document consists of 8 chapters regulating the ethical norms and principles of a journalist’s work. The conferees stressed that no one has the right to coerce a journalist into complying with the newly-adopted Code.

Threats against citizens, journalists and media

Berik Zhagiparov, chief editor of the Zhezkazgan-based newspaper Molodyozhnaya Gazeta, has reported he is being targeted by unidentified officers of some “force” agency, who called one of his best friends on the phone to tell him unless Zhagiparov gave up his journalistic activities he might be arrested, and might find “15 days in custody an enormously lenient punishment”. Earlier, on 12 October, Zhagiparov posted a message in his web blog saying he was afraid law enforcement might attempt a provocation against him. As a pre-emptive move, he declared he had never taken drugs or had firearms (which he feared might be planted by potential provocateurs). Also, he said he had been finding himself under pressure, with unknown young men watching him closely round the clock and making inquiries about his personality and professional activities.

Media defending their professional rights

The board of appeals of the Kostanai regional court on 15 October confirmed a ruling by the Kostanai city court pronouncing unlawful an attempt by Kairat Omarov, chief of penal colony UK-161/1, to stop Stas Kiselyov, a reporter for the newspaper Vremya, from doing his professional work. The court awarded Kiselyov 5 tenge (100 tenge ~ 20.5 roubles or 0.66 US dollars) in moral damages.

Vremya demanded that Almaty mayor’s office spokesman Sergei Kuyanov officially apologize for accusing it in his 10 October interview for the Almaty TV channel of “publishing lies concerning (the mayor’s) intercom conference with the premier”, and for his calling Vremya “a political prostitute”. Since no apology followed, the newspaper lodged a legal claim against Kuyanov in defence of its business reputation.

Investigators at the Northern district department of the Kostanai police prepared the documents for starting proceedings under Article 352 of the Kazakhstani Administrative Code (“Interference with a journalist’s lawful professional activities”) in the wake of a complaint filed by Tatyana Kalyuzhnaya, a reporter for the Alau TV Company. As she was shooting a report on road repairs in one of Kostanai’s dormitory areas, an unknown man approached her, calling himself “the boss here”, and telling the film crew to switch off the camera. Kalyuzhnaya then took out her photo camera and started taking pictures that she wanted to post later on Alau’s website. The man grew still more aggressive, tearing away her camera and erasing the images from the memory stick. He was later identified as Ashot Aboramyn, deputy director of the private company Van. The investigation findings have been submitted to the Kostanai prosecutor’s office, which is to decide whether to take the case all the way to court, regional police department spokeswoman Yelena Kasharina told Adil Soz on 22 October.

Criminal charges against journalists

Hearings have continued in the Petropavlovsk city court in Northern Kazakhstan of the case of Sergei Bukatov, editor, and Mansur Rasulov, owner, of the Kazakh-Zerno news agency, who are facing libel charges brought against them by Ak Bidai-Terminal Co., which also wants 100 million tenge in moral damages from the accused. No information about the course of hearings has been available so far.

The board of appeals of the Akmolinsk regional court on 31 October confirmed the acquittal by the Kokshetau city court of Akmolinskiye Vesti reporter Oksana Matasova under Articles 129 (“Libel”) and 130 (“Defamation”) of the Kazakhstani Criminal Code. The charges were brought against her by Marina Rybalko, editor of the newspaper Kurs and president of the Modern Journalism Development Centre, in the wake of Matasova’s 23 June 2011 publication “To Remain Human is One’s Supreme Right”.

Legal claims against media

The board of appeals of the West-Kazakhstani regional court on 2 October left in full legal force the Uralsk city court decision regarding a legal claim lodged by regional Internal Policy Department Chief Tlekkabyl Imashev against TOO Zhurnalistskaya Initsiativa and Uralskaya Nedelya reporter Lukpan Akhmedyarov. Thus the defendants are to pay Imashev 5 million tenge in moral compensation (half of the 10 million he originally claimed) and publicly apologize to him.

Hearings have continued in the city court in Uralsk of a legal claim lodged by Arman Kozhakhmetov, an officer of the West-Kazakhstani regional Department for Combating Economic Crime and Corruption, against the newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya and its author Lukpan Akhmedyarov in the wake of a story entitled “History Repeats Itself” (Uralskaya Nedelya, 27 July 2012). The plaintiff demanded an official apology and 3 million tenge in moral damages. At the 24 October hearing, the defendants requested replacing Judge B. Baimagambetova. Their request was satisfied.

In the same court again, hearings have continued of a third legal claim filed against Uralskaya Nedelya and Lukpan Akhmedyarov – this time by Abzal Braliyev, deputy head of the Terektin district administration (West-Kazakhstani Region) in connection with the same publication (“History Repeats Itself”), which said that a surviving witness of the killing of prominent athlete Oralbek Kuzhageldin 13 years ago has recognised three participants in that crime among the incumbent members of the regional administration. The plaintiff claims 10 million tenge. No information about the proceedings has been available.

The Auez district court in Almaty has continued proceedings in connection with a legal claim lodged by Valery Karo-Made against journalist Saule Isabayeva, owner of the Central Asia Monitor newspaper, as well as Sarym Bukeikhanov and Zauytbek Kuralbayev who were interviewed by the newspaper. The claim was filed following the story “The Long Echo of Zheltoksan” (Central Asia Monitor, 6 January 2012) about the 25-year-long litigation between Karo-Made, a former lecturer at the Institute of Architecture and Construction, and the former president of the same institute. The plaintiff wants 5 million tenge in moral damages. The proceedings have now been suspended pending the findings of the study of a disputed text by linguistic experts.

Since January 2012, a total of 16 criminal charges have been brought against media and journalists, and 76 legal claims have been filed, with 4,402,950,000 tenge wanted in moral damages.

In January-October, journalists reported 205 instances of denials of, and other restrictions on access to, socially significant information.

[Adil Sol Foundation, 19 November]

 

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Another conflict over Personal Data Law in Krasnodar Region

By Yegor Tashmatov, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

In October, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta Kubani (NGK) carried a story titled “In the Middle of Nowhere”, which described a variety of law violations committed by local government officials and their relatives. One passage said, with reference to an adviser to a district administration head, “As it turned out, Germonassa Co. is owned by local businesswoman Natalia Vasilevskaya, wife of the incumbent Temryuk District leader Ivan Vasilevsky; Natalia’s interests were represented in court by Anton Vasilishin, whom Vasilevsky appointed his adviser on 13 February in line with his own order No.49 of 10 February 2012. According to NGK sources, Vasilevsky’s adviser was involved in 9 criminal cases as a suspect or the accused in 2006-2008; in four of those cases, he was suspected of fraud. Today, he is the authorised representative of Vasilevsky’s wife and concurrently an adviser to the district leader himself.”

After the publication, NGK received an inquiry from the Roskomnadzor [see above] department for the Krasnodar Region and Republic of Adygea, asking NGK to provide information in connection with Vasilishin’s complaint about the newspaper’s allegedly breaching the Personal Data Law by posting his personal data in the Internet without his consent. Roskomnadzor requested that NGK (a) “present the legal grounds for processing Vasilishin’s personal data”; (b) “prove that it disclosed Vasilishin’s personal data with his consent”; and (c) “provide information about the measures taken by NGK to ensure the confidentiality and safety of Vasilishin’s personal data”.

Since no copy of Vasilishin’s complaint was attached to the inquiry, NGK found it pretty difficult to furnish a reply, because it was not clear which particular personal data it had presumably disclosed.

Yet the NGK chief editor, within the timeframe established under the law, sent Roskomnadzor an exhaustive reply that said Vasilishin’s personal data had been “obtained from open sources”. Specifically, information about the figurants in those criminal cases had been copied from the Temryuk district court’s website, and data about Vasilishin’s workplace and official position had been found on the official website of the district administration.

Although the oversight agency was satisfied with the editor’s reply, NGK journalists fear this may create a dangerous precedent. On the one hand, the state has actively rolled out its E-government Programme and passed anti-corruption laws; on the other, journalists have increasingly often found themselves facing the dilemma: whether to publish information at the risk of being required to prove they disclosed someone’s personal data lawfully, or not to mention any names at all.

 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

Siberian media community promotes human rights

Press Development Institute (PDI) Siberia on 7 November summed up the results of the regional stage of the journalistic competition “I, You, We Have the Right…”

The start of the third annual journalistic contest was announced by the Ya Vprave (I Have the Right) Programme and the Glasnost Defence Foundation in April. The goal was to identify and reward professional journalists and freelance reporters for print and online media who publish human rights materials with a view to raising people’s awareness of the range of rights (personal, social, economic, civil and political) each of us has; explaining the mechanisms of exercising and defending these rights; and highlighting real cases where citizens have succeeded in effectively protecting their rights.

PDI Siberia took on the organisation and co-ordination of the competition in the regions of Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Kemerovo, the Altai Region, and the Republic of Altai.

More than 40 journalistic works in six nominations were submitted for the contest.

The jury panel consisted of Sergei Andreyev, head of the Altai School of Public Politics; lawyer Mikhail Fedan; and Aleksandr Rappoport, a screenwriter and journalist (jury chairman).

The list of the nominations and prize-winners is as follows:

  • “Print media publications” – Yelena Reutova, newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets v Tomske, city of Tomsk;
  • “Thematic periodicals” – newspaper Pyatiy Element, city of Novosibirsk;
  • “TV stories and shows” – Pretzedent TV show, city of Novosibirsk;
  • “Radio shows” – Sergei Kuzmin, anchor of radio show “Special Reporter Sergei Kuzmin”, city of Novosibirsk;
  • “Web publications” – Olga Dmitriyeva, Sib.fm web magazine; and
  • “Social networks and blogs in the Internet” – Tak-Tak-Tak social human rights network.

For further details about the competition results, see PDI Siberia’s website, section Media News.

 

Letters

Dear colleagues:

I am Anatoly Osipov, chief editor of a newspaper based in the city of Svobodny, Amur Region. My newspaper is thought to be an opposition media outlet, since anyone writing the truth here is ranked as an opposition activist. Understandably, the level of administrative pressure on me is high.

The situation in Svobodny, even if viewed in the context of the generally deplorable situation with human rights nationwide, looks grave indeed. Mayor Kaminsky and Amur Regional Court Chairman Sergei Semyonov maintain … ties that secure full-scale judicial support for Kaminsky and his camarilla. For my newspaper to count on justice in these circumstances is impossible, particularly in view of our difficult financial position and the resulting lack of legal support. So we’ve been compelled to gain legal experience in the course of continuing litigations, by the trial-and-error method. We have even won one case in court!

As a really appalling recent example, Judge Kroshka of the Svobodny city court passed an a priori unfair and unjustified decision in a case we were involved in. We appealed to the regional court, which changed the first decision very tangibly in our favour. And yet, it required our newspaper to publish “the full text of the decision”, although in line with the Media Law, a disclaimer shall not be more than double the size of a disputed text fragment. Just to be on the safe side, we asked the court to specify which of the two decisions we were supposed to publish. Judge Kroshka pointed to the one passed by the court of appeals, and that we did publish. After a while, though, the city court decided that since there were two decisions passed in our case, its own decision must be published, too.

We filed a private complaint with the regional court in hopes it would cancel the city court’s ruling. As I understand, in line with the Code of Civil Procedure, there can’t be two different decisions passed in one and the same case, which point I duly stressed in the complaint. However, the Amur regional court on 7 November left the city court ruling in force without notifying the parties. Now I am supposed to publish the full text of that idiotic decision, which will take not fewer than 3 pages in my 12-page newspaper.

Please find attached copies of the judicial documents. I hereby ask your advice as to what our next steps should be.

Respectfully,
Anatoly Osipov

GDF lawyer Svetlana Zemskova is preparing a reply recommending the chief editor the best possible tactic for settling this judicial conflict.

 

This digest was prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation in Moscow. The digest has been issued once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.

Currently it is distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editorial board

  • Editor-in-chief, Alexei Simonov
  • Boris Timoshenko, Head of Monitoring Service;
  • Svetlana Zemskova, GDF Lawyer;
  • Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy, translator.

We welcome the promotion of our news items and articles but if you make use of any information from this digest or other GDF materials please acknowledge the source.

Contacts:

Glasnost Defence Foundation, Room 432, 4 Zubovsky Boulevard,
119992 Moscow, Russia.

Telephone/fax: +7 (495) 637-4947 and +7 (495) 637-4420
e-mail: boris@gdf.ru , or fond@gdf.ru

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Архив
ФЗГ продолжает бороться за свое честное имя. Пройдя все необходимые инстанции отечественного правосудия, Фонд обратился в Европейский суд. Для обращения понадобилось вкратце оценить все, что Фонд сделал за 25 лет своего существования. Вот что у нас получилось:
Полезная деятельность Фонда защиты гласности за 25 лет его жизни