Дайджест
13 Декабря 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 595

10 December 2012

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

TV anchor Kazbek Gekkiyev shot and killed in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria

By Natalia Yusupova, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

TV journalist Kazbek Gekkiyev, anchor of the evening news show “Vesti Kabardino-Balkaria”, was murdered in Nalchik late on 5 December. On his way home at about 9 p.m., he stopped in Kirov Street to talk to an acquaintance, when two unknown men came up to him, checked if he was the news presenter they were looking for, and then opened fire on him, killing him on the spot.

An inspection of the scene of the crime yielded two 9-mm cartridge cases. A hot-pursuit effort taken by the Nalchik police to track down the killers turned out in vain, according to Kabardino-Balkaria’s Interior Department.

The republic’s Investigative Committee started criminal proceedings to check several versions of the journalist’s assassination; the main version links Gekkiyev’s killing with his professional work, as additionally confirmed by the killers’ checking the victim’s name before pulling the trigger, the committee said.

On the other hand, Gekkiyev did not engage in journalistic investigations or cover law enforcement efforts to combat extremism in the republic. Nor is there any information available about his ever receiving threats. Rather, his killing can be regarded as an attempt at intimidating society in general and the media community in particular.

As we have reported, the leadership of some outlawed armed groups last February circulated a video address to two Vesti TV journalists, threatening them with murder for “showing too much enthusiasm” when reporting about law enforcement operations to wipe out militant gangs (see Digest 558). The address was read out by one of the fighter leaders detained in a special police operation shortly afterward. The TV company management took the two TV anchors off the air to protect their integrity.

Kazbek Gekkiyev came to work for the regional branch of the All-Russia State TV/Radio Company (VGTRK) three years ago. After six months of “field” reporting (in Russian and Balkarian), he was appointed a Vesti news presenter. Colleagues agree he successfully combined high professionalism with remarkable human qualities. The journalist was only 28 years old.

The RF Investigative Committee in Moscow sent a group of experienced criminal investigators to help solve Gekkiyev’s murder. The case has now been assigned for handling to the North Caucasian Investigative Department. The country’s chief investigator, Aleksandr Bastrykin, has held a working conference in Nalchik, announcing he will personally oversee progress in the investigation of the journalist’s killing.

VGTRK General Director Oleg Dobrodeyev visited the TV centre in Nalchik on 6 December, expressing his condolences to Gekkiyev’s colleagues and pledging comprehensive assistance to the victim’s family. The republican TV company management has urged the Interior Ministry and FSB to take every possible measure to protect the integrity of local journalists.

 

RUSSIA

Karelian Legislative Assembly apparatchik attempts to restrict reporters’ movement about parliament

By Anatoly Tsygankov, GDF correspondent in North-Western Federal District

L. Kleikova, first deputy chief of the Karelian Legislative Assembly apparatus, has tried on the role of a “press regulator”.

Karelia’s parliament has always been known for its openness to the press, and no journalist throughout the republic has ever complained of having been barred from attending a parliamentary event. Suddenly, on 7 December, the policemen on duty at the Legislative Assembly entrance, refused to let journalists through unless some press service official met them at the door, showed them to the MP or other person they wanted to interview, and then personally see them off. The guards cited some “oral orders from the parliamentary apparatus leadership”. This “secrecy regime” arising out of nowhere perplexed the parliamentary reporters and caused Anatoly Tsygankov, chairman of the republican Journalists’ Union, to ask A. Ukhanov, head of the Legislative Assembly apparatus, what had happened and why a journalist could now move about the parliament premises only if escorted by a press service official.

Ukhanov turned out to know nothing about any such regulation; he invited the journalists to follow him, there and then, all the way up to the person who had issued the strange orders. The police officers guarding the building pointed to Kleikova as the source. Asked if that was indeed so, she suddenly said she had nothing to do with it at all and that the guards must have misinterpreted her instructions, although these had actually been reflected in the register, according to the guards. Anyway, Kleikova’s boss instantly cancelled her “misinterpreted” orders and communicated his decision to the police officers downstairs.

The reason for Kleikova’s “extra vigilance” became clear soon: one day earlier, a crew of TV journalists preparing a report from parliament had shot some video sequences of the deputies’ cars parked at the Legislative Assembly entrance. Evidently in view of the heated parliamentary debates over the draft budget for 2013, which proposes drastic cuts in maintenance expenditures on parliament’s vehicle fleet, the overzealous lady apparatchik must have moved to restrict journalists’ movement about the parliamentary corridors to prevent them from gathering information that might “discredit” the MPs.

Her silly orders have now been cancelled, but one is left to wonder whether any apparatus official, whatever his or her rank, is indeed in a position to personally restrict people’s access to information on what is going on in parliament. It is those who issue such arbitrary orders, rather than the police officers guarding the doors, who must be held answerable in cases like this.

Reporter protesting against vote rigging in Saratov stands trial for breaching public order

By Yuri Chernyshov, newspaper Bogatey

The Volzhsky district court in Saratov last week completed hearings of an administrative case opened against Yekaterina Fyodorova, a reporter for the Saratov-based newspaper Vremya. The hearings, which lasted for more than a month, were held at magistracy No.4.

Together with Alexei Plotnikov, leader of the youth wing of the local branch of the Fair Russia Party, Fyodorova, standing on the balcony, unfolded – in protest against vote rigging during the 14 October elections to the regional Duma – a placard reading, “People didn’t elect you!”, as Duma Chairman Vladimir Kapkayev was addressing parliament on 24 October. The action had lasted for 30 seconds to a minute and a half, according to eyewitnesses, before apparatus officials tore the placard from Fyodorova’s hands and handed over the two protesters to security guards. The Duma apparatus unambiguously defined the incident as an “unauthorised picketing action”, a “provocation” and “hooliganism”, and urged the regional branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union (RJU) to assess Fyodorova and Plotnikov’s behaviour in terms of journalistic ethics.

The Grand Jury of the regional RJU branch considered the parliamentary appeal and decided that Fyodorova had indeed breached the rules of procedure of the Duma sitting. At the same time, the Grand Jury reaffirmed a journalist’s right to express his or her personal opinion. Regardless of this GJ decision, Duma officials failed to keep the word they had given when applying for Grand Jury interference and, going beyond the framework of an extrajudicial settlement, they filed a legal claim against the lady journalist.

The first court hearing took place on 26 October, with Fyodorova facing charges of breaching a public event’s procedural rules (under Article 20.2 of the RF Administrative Code) and with Judge Darya Shcherbakova presiding over the sitting. Defence lawyer Mikhail Shapovalov, co-ordinator of the Saratov Electors’ Association, asked the court to question eyewitnesses, among them Duma apparatus officials and Anastasia Lukminskaya, a reporter for Saratovnews.ru, who all had been present on the Duma balcony during the protest action.

The court was then adjourned until 3 December; after questioning the witnesses and thoroughly studying the intricacies of the Duma’s rules of procedure, the judge announced the verdict: 20,000 roubles in fine from Fyodorova. None of the attendees seemed to be able to understand the judge’s logic. “Fyodorova’s action could not possibly fall under the effect of Article 20.2… if only because it was neither a picketing action nor, for that matter, any other act prohibited by that article,” a local newspaper commented.

“I even read out several thesaurus definitions,” Shapovalov said. “My client is accused of an offence she never committed. One can’t talk about a picketing action in this case at all – otherwise, a sports fan unfolding a placard during a football match or a music fan doing likewise during a public concert would be subject to prosecution, too.”

It looks like the judge did not find those arguments convincing.

Onlookers, though, are wondering if the Duma apparatchiks who tore the placard from Fyodorova’s hands did follow the parliamentary rules of procedure. But then, their behaviour is evidently outside the court jurisdiction because they are members of a parliament fully dominated by the United Russia Party – a parliament in which many got their deputies’ cards particularly as a result of unseen electoral law violations law during the 14 October vote. This, actually, is what Fyodorova protested against by behaving the way she did, and what has stepped up the confrontation between power and the opposition in the region of Saratov.

Thinking that the court ruling has helped undo the injustice is premature. First, Yekaterina Fyodorova and her lawyer are determined to go, if need be, all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights; and second, the unprecedentedly wrongful elections to the regional Duma have given rise to a protest movement calling itself “Executive Committee to Elect a Council of People’s Deputies”, which intends to organise alternative elections under the motto, “What the Duma Would Look Like In the Event of Fair Elections”. The Fyodorova case may spark off a really big fire…

Karelian parliament Vice-Speaker Alikhanov loses in court to journalist Tsygankov

Actually, it was not Devletkhan Alikhanov the MP but Alikhanov the businessman, whom he used to be not so long ago, that journalist Anatoly Tsygankov was at law with. The dispute flared up over a transaction that Alikhanov concluded with the Petrozavodsk city administration back in 2002, when the municipal authorities exchanged office spaces with the entrepreneur as part of a loan agreement, offering him 580 sq. m (a full storey) in a downtown trade centre, while receiving equally large premises for a municipal library on the city outskirts. The loan agreement also imbued Alikhanov with the right to lease out floor space in the Karelia-Market trade centre, thus actually turning him into a lessor. The agreement is still in effect and will be valid until 2050.

The Karelia-Market theme came up for discussion again earlier this year in connection with the Petrozavodsk administration’s suggesting (at Mayor N. Levin’s initiative) that the trade centre building should go private. The city head has thrice ever since put his suggestion to the vote in parliament, but each time the deputies turned it down, suspecting the mayor of lobbying in the interests of local business owners; so they asked the republic’s prosecutor to scrutinize Levin’s initiative from the angle of potential corrupt underpinnings.

The story hit the newspaper headlines and caused vigorous public debates, which journalist Anatoly Tsygankov retold in a publication that also noted that the city administration should take care to protect the residents’ interests while managing municipal assets.

Devletkhan Alikhanov, performing under the loan agreement as the borrower, found two passages in the publication “damaging” to his honour and dignity and filed a legal claim against the author, demanding a disclaimer and 200,000 roubles in moral damages.

In the course of the hearings, the defendant tried to prove that the first passage, which described the subject matter of the transaction between the Petrozavodsk administration and Alikhanov, was an evaluative judgment critically assessing the mayor’s actions. Prosecuting a journalist for expressing his personal opinion about a publicly discussed issue would be wrong from the viewpoint of the Russian constitution, the Media Law and the norms of international law regulating freedom of expression, Tsygankov argued. The second passage, describing the contractual relations between businessman Alikhanov (the loan agreement was concluded before he was elected a Legislative Assembly deputy) and the city administration was generally accurate, too, although erroneously identifying Alikhanov as a “lessor”, rather than a “borrower” entitled to lease out the trading floor space he received under the agreement – but that inaccurate definition of his status was anything but “insulting” to the plaintiff, Tsygankov said.

After nearly six months of court proceedings, the journalist did manage to prove, on the basis of numerous supporting documents, that the transaction was unprofitable to the city in the final count. Moreover, he showed that, besides receiving a full storey in the Karelia-Market trade centre at zero interest, Alikhanov had directly participated in establishing the would-be trade company by representing its interests in the mayor’s office while asking for the lease of floor space within the municipal building. That means Alikhanov is anyone but an “outsider” in regards to this business project.

Tsygankov presented documents proving the accuracy of the figures he had cited in the publication to show the amount of Karelia-Market’s rent payments into the city budget.

Having considered the arguments presented by both parties, the court turned down Alikhanov’s legal claim in full.

Saleswoman in Kursk Region sues newspaper for “smearing” publication

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The city court in Zheleznogorsk, Kursk Region, is considering an honour-and-dignity protection claim filed against the local newspaper Ekho Nedeli by Zheleznogorsk resident Antonina Klychkova, a character of a newspaper report about a police raid on the city’s grocery shops to check compliance with the norms of the law restricting the sale of alcohol.

The 5 October report, entitled “Kiosk Traders Sell Alcohol in Defiance of Law”, said a saleswoman in one of the shops had unlawfully sold beer to a minor. The text was illustrated by the saleswoman’s photo portrait.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff has claimed the police accused her by mistake: a check-up of the circumstances and the questioning of eyewitnesses showed the young customer had already come of age by the date of the beer purchase, which put an end to administrative proceedings against her. However, the case was closed right at the date of the publication, on 5 October, Klychkova said, adding that before filing her legal claim, she had urged Ekho Nedeli to publish a disclaimer, but the chief editor had refused to.

She wants the court to require the defendant to refute the smearing information and pay her 50,000 roubles in moral damages.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in November 2012

Attacks on journalists – 6 (Denis Kulaga, NTV correspondent, Krasnodar; Yuri Golovin, reporter for 168 Chasov weekly, Ivanovo Region; REN TV film crew, Moscow; Mikhail Telekhov, correspondent for Vecherny Peterburg newspaper, St. Petersburg; Oksana Trufanova, journalist, Russian Verdict human rights centre, Chelyabinsk Region; Irina Sutyrina, director, municipal newspaper Moy Angarsk, Irkutsk Region).

Instances of censorship – 4 (Ozersky Vestnik newspaper, Chelyabinsk Region; Novy Sever newspaper, Republic of Komi; Peterburgsky Teatralny Zhurnal magazine, St. Petersburg; Istoki newspaper, Republic of Altai).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 6 (Rustam Dzhalilov, correspondent, Islam News agency, Moscow; Aksana Panova, chief editor, Ura.ru news agency, Yekaterinburg; Boris Stomakhin, editor, Radikalnaya Politika newspaper, Moscow; Sergei Reznik, journalist, Novaya Gazeta v Yuzhnom Federalnom newspaper, Rostov-on-Don, faces two criminal charges; Stanislav Bulanov, correspondent, Yuzhny Region web magazine, Krasnodar).

Detention by police (FSB, etc.) – 4 (Ilya Cherushnikov, freelance reporter, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, St. Petersburg; Anton Arsenyev, correspondent, Kommersant Daily, St. Petersburg; Rustam Dzhalilov, correspondent, Islam News agency, Moscow; Boris Stomakhin, editor, Radikalnaya Politika newspaper, Moscow).

Refusals to provide information (including bans on use of audio recorders and video/photo cameras; refusals to provide accreditation; restrictions on admittance to official events held by government bodies, industrial enterprises or state institutions) – 14.

Threats against journalists and media – 9 (Denis Kulaga, NTV correspondent, Krasnodar; Victoria Katayeva, journalist, Sobesednik newspaper, Moscow; Yuri Matytsin, sports columnist, Novaya Gazeta v Ryazani newspaper, Ryazan – threatened twice; Vsevolozsk-Info.ru news portal staff, Leningrad Region; film crew for 66.ru news portal, Yekaterinburg; Irina Sutyrina, director, Moy Angarsk municipal newspaper, Irkutsk Region – threatened twice; 73online.ru news portal staff, Ulyanovsk).

Ejection of publication, etc., from its premises – 1 (Periodika Publishers’, Petrozavodsk).

Closure of media – 1 (Colta.ru web publication).

Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 2 (Bonus newspaper, Republic of Bashkortostan; Sakhalinsky Moryak newspaper, Sakhalin Region).

Interference with Internet publications – 7 (Ura.ru news agency website, Yekaterinburg – twice; Civil Control Foundation website; Vesti TV Channel’s website; Interfax news agency’s website; Vzglyad web publication; Gazeta.ru).

Confiscation of photo, audio and video apparatus or computers – 6 (cell phone of Denis Kulaga, NTV correspondent, Krasnodar; video cassette of REN TV film crew, Moscow; PC of Irina Kryuchkova, staffer of Ura.ru news agency, Yekaterinburg; PC of Rustam Dzhalilov, correspondent for Islam News agency, Moscow; PC of Boris Stomakhin, freelance journalist, Moscow; PC of Tatyana Kazantseva, publisher of Nash Lyubimy Gorod newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region).

Administrative pressure (unplanned inspections by sanitary, fire, tax inspectors, etc.) – 1 (Ch-Inform.ru, autonomous enterprise in Chernogorsk, Khakassia).

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 25.

Last week, the Glasnost Defence Foundation was referred to at least 10 times in the Internet, including at:

Novaya Gazeta: Presidents annual address as his official duty

The New Times: “This murder is a threat to other journalists”

Civitas.Ru: Lady reporter who witnessed Kopeisk penal colony clampdown subjected to reprisals

Civitas.Ru: Journalists and media entitled to circulate information about citizens without their consent

Barents-Press: Our colleague may be in for trial

Dagestan news agency: Khadzhimurad Kamalov posthumously honoured with Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”

Caucasian Knot news agency: Journalist Khadzhimurad Kamalov, murdered in Dagestan, hits group of finalists in Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”

Moskovsky Komsomolets: Who kills journalists in Russia?

 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

Jury selects five nominees for Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”

The Jury invites everyone to attend a ceremony to honour the winners of the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”, scheduled to open at Moscow’s Central House of Journalists (8a, Nikitsky Boulevard, Arbatskaya metro station) at 3 p.m. on 15 December.

The twelfth annual competition this year attracted about a hundred authors from dozens of Russian Federation regions, from Yakutsk to Makhachkala and from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to Kursk. The laureate and nominees have been invited to Moscow to receive awards and diplomas. The Jury will also give special diplomas to all the finalists and the media outlets which published the winner and nominees’ works.

This year’s five nominees for the Sakharov Award are Roman Anin (Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Moscow); Olga Bobrova (Novaya Gazeta, Moscow); Nigina Beroyeva (Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Moscow); Yelena Vlasenko (Radio Liberty website, Moscow); and Viktor Shostko (Krestyanin newspaper, Rostov Region).

The winner’s name will be announced during the 15 December ceremony at the House of Journalists.

The Jury of the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Competition consisted of:

Chairman – Alexei Simonov, GDF president;

Members:

Bonet Pilar, El Pais correspondent;

G. E. Borodyansky, Novaya Gazeta correspondent and winner of 2011 Andrei Sakharov Award, Omsk;

Peter Vince, founder of the Sakharov Award;

V. V. Voronov, Sovershenno Sekretno columnist and winner of 2010 Andrei Sakharov Award, Moscow;

B. V. Dubin, sociologist, Levada Centre;

A. S. Lebedeva, Moy Kavkaz newspaper editor and winner of 2006 Andrei Sakharov Award, Rostov-on-Don;

S. A. Lurye, Full Member of Academy of Modern Russian Literature, St. Petersburg;

M. S. Muslimova, assistant professor, State University of Dagestan, Russian Language and Literature Methods of Teaching Department;

I. V. Naidyonov, Russky Reporter magazine special correspondent and winner of 2005 Andrei Sakharov Award, Moscow;

A. B. Pankin, chief editor, Publishing Business Strategy & Praxis, Ifra-GIPP Magazin, Moscow;

Y. V. Samodurov, co-chairman, All-Russia Civil Congress;

T. A. Sedykh, Moyo Poberezhye newspaper editor and winner of 2009 Andrei Sakharov Award, Vanino, Khabarovsk Region;

Gregory White, head of The Wall Street Journal’s Moscow office;

Y. L. Chernyshov, Bogatey newspaper columnist, Saratov;

A. R. Shirikyan, publisher, Cigar Clan magazine;

Susanne Scholl, head of Moscow office of ORF TV Channel, Austria.

Executive Secretary – Boris Timoshenko, Glasnost Defence Foundation.

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