Дайджест
31 Января 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 600

28 January 2013

 

STORY OF THE WEEK

600th GDF digest released

We congratulate ourselves, our correspondents, translators and readers on a remarkable milestone – the release of the 600th edition of our digest! This means that for more than twelve years now, every week, on Mondays, we have contacted our readers to sound the alarm on violations of media and journalists’ rights. We have not issued digests only during our one-month summer vacations and on the Mondays of several-day state holidays.

As leaders and presidents, editors and secretaries have replaced one another over the years, we have tirelessly continued building our “information hill”, from the top of which we can regard today the shameful and deplorable picture opening up below.

Our first “nestling” hatched on 11 August 2000 and looked as shown here. Since then, six hundred more have pipped to take wing and fly away, while we are still busy designing the wing shape and drawing a route chart for each new one.

Thanks to everyone who remembers this, and no offence at those not knowing anything about it.

Good luck to all of us!

GDF Team

 

RUSSIA

Rezonans newspaper publisher still under prosecution in Saratov

All this started in May 2010, when Vladislav Malyshev, publisher of the Saratov-based newspaper Rezonans, miraculously survived an attack in which he received several knife stabs and had his throat cut. A suspect was identified, who stood before a court of law in the spring and autumn of 2011 but who did not look nearly like the real assailant, whose face the victim had remembered well. Malyshev and his lawyers themselves insisted in court on the innocence of the accused, who was finally pronounced not guilty. Moreover, in a particular decision, the court warned the regional police chief, Gen. Sergei Arenin, of the inadmissibility of such police malpractices as those exposed in the course of the hearings.

Toward the end of 2011, Malyshev began filing requests for the start of criminal proceedings against police officers neglecting due investigation of the attack he had suffered – never actually starting a probe into his case. But it was not until April 2012, after his two requests ignored, that criminal proceedings were finally started against several police officers on charges of office abuse and falsification of documents. At about the same time, Malyshev said that Gen. Arenin and his deputy, Mr. Poltanov, might know those behind the attack, but might be unwilling to name them.

That caused police to revive a half-forgotten embezzlement case against Malyshev that had thrice been closed already in view of no elements of crime in his actions.

In December 2012, police attempted to arrest Malyshev and place him in a pre-trial detention centre for his failure to duly report to the investigators a change to his address. Also, they accused him of “procrastination” in reading the numerous files of the criminal case – and this despite his long stay in hospital in connection with the traumas he had received during the attack two years before.

The investigators several times inquired the clinic about Malyshev’s condition and the possibility of his direct participation in judicial proceedings, but the doctors said no. After his discharge from hospital, Malyshev was detained and taken by force first to the Investigative Department (on a warrant from a senior investigator) and then to court.

Yelena Novikova, deputy head of the special investigations unit at the regional Investigative Depatment, urged the court to warrant Malyshev’s further stay in police custody, but Judge Alexei Belov ruled for him to be kept under house arrest.

Malyshev sees this pressure campaign as an attempt by regional police commanders to revenge themselves on him for his project “The Right to Lawlessness”, within which Rezonans already has published about a dozen stories highlighting facts of police negligence and arbitrariness, which did in the long run give rise at Malyshev’s insistence to criminal proceedings against wrongdoing officers.

[Based on Chetvyortaya Vlast reports, Saratov]

Closed radio station may resume broadcasting in Omsk

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Omsk branch of the Communist Party has initiated the reopening in the region of the Ekho Moskvy (EM) radio station, which was closed at the will of its owner, an MP representing the ruling United Russia Party.

Many residents protested against the 105-FM radio station’s going silent after New Year’s holidays. The stoppage of broadcasting seemingly had no political underpinnings and was motivated by purely economic considerations: the frequency owner, Antenna-7 TV/Radio Company, said it terminated its partnership agreement with Ekho Moskvy in view of “insufficient advertising proceeds”.

That seems reasonable, indeed. As we reported earlier (see Digest 576), EM had long lost connection with its mother station in Moscow and had spent most of its air time praising the regional authorities for their “remarkable achievements” and never forgetting to say “special thanks” to the-then governor, who generously paid for those shows of reverence, saving the station the need to look for alternative advertisers (the 2012 budget, for example, set aside over 400 million roubles in support for the media, of which the lion’s share went to finance TV and radio development).

Last May, Governor Leonid Polezhayev was replaced by Viktor Nazarov, a man strikingly different from both Polezhayev and most other regional leaders. He began by cutting media subsidising significantly, and barred some of the media, among them Ekho Moskvy Omsk, from the regional treasury altogether. The administration reshuffle left Antenna-7 with little economic motivation to continue holding EM as its asset. On the political side, Antenna’s owner Valery Kokorin, the region’s single largest businessman, a United Russia-affiliated MP and a man reputed to have been close to the previous governor, decided he would be better off using Ekho’s frequency to relay broadcasts of Love Radio, a federal radio station playing chill-out music round-the-clock without straining either the political situation in the country or the mindsets of its residents.

As a result, Omsk found itself in a paradoxical situation: the replacement of an authoritarian governor by a democratic one led to the closure of the region’s “most democratic” radio station.

Its disappearance from the air triggered a wave of protests from Communist Party followers and caused the CP faction in the regional Legislative Assembly on 24 January to propose allocation of budgetary funds for the station’s restoration.

“We’ve been receiving numerous phone calls from people in all walks of life (asking to return EM),” CP faction leader Andrei Alyokhin said. “We are expected to react, so we must think of how best to go about it.”

MP Alexei Provozin of the Fair Russia Party agreed.

“We know of many precedents of the state starting to directly subsidise businesses that yield little profit but are socially significant and are needed by the people,” he said. “We must find a way to have Ekho Moskvy resume its broadcasts in the Omsk region, after all.”

In response, the new governor reminded the deputies of their own decision to cut media expenditure by 30 million roubles when approving the 2013 budget. Personally having nothing against that radio station’s continued operation, Nazarov invited the opposition to look for a business company that might agree to purchase a vacant frequency for Ekho.

“We’re discussing a few such options now,” Communist MP Adam Pogarsky told GDF. “Some businessmen from among those who are close to our party have shown an interest, but it’s still too early to talk of a decision already taken: restoring EM broadcasting will cost a lot of money, so everything needs to be calculated carefully.”

Youth newspaper on verge of closure in Karelia

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

The youth newspaper Molodyozhnaya Gazeta Karelii (MGK) is to mark its 93rd anniversary in March, but it is unclear whether it will live long enough to do that. In January so far, the weekly has released only one issue, and there is no indication whatever that the next one is pending.

Since September, the newspaper’s founder, the pulp-and-paper plant in Kondopoga, has not carried out its financial obligations to the staff, while also keeping silent about whether or not MGK will be preserved at all. No documents have been available to clarify the founder’s position – and this at a time when the plant has reportedly been declared bankrupt.

Unable to obtain any information directly, the MGK management has notified the republican department of Roskomnadzor [federal agency overseeing the sphere of public communications] of its decision to suspend the newspaper’s release (with the prospects of work resumption being rather vague, considering today’s situation). Editor Vera Buravova hopes the oversight agency is authoritative enough to make the MGK founder reply to its inquiry.

Media oversight agency in Altai urges newspaper to provide explanations

By Sergei Mikhailov, City of Gorno-Altaisk

The Roskomnadzor branch in the Altai Republic has demanded written explanations from I. Golovacheva, chief editor of the newspaper Listok v Chemalskom Rayone (LCR), regarding one of its recent publications.

“In the process of monitoring media publications, Roskomnadzor noted signs of a breach of the rules of personal data handling by LCR, as shown in its article ‘Chemalsky District Motive Force – 2012,” a memo signed by Roskomnadzor head V. Ivanov said.

As Ivanov sees it, the newspaper violated the provisions of the RF Personal Data Law by featuring a popularity rating of 100 district public officials, in which their full names and positions were spelt out. The LCR editor now is supposed to present to Roskomnadzor, within a 30-day period, copies of the rated officials’ written consent to having their personal data disclosed. Besides, she must supply “written explanations and other information and materials pertaining to the subject matter of the Roskomnadzor inquiry”.

 

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Iskra Yuga Press Award lights new stars

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Rostov-on-Don has played host to the Iskra Yuga (Talent of the South) National Press Award festival for the fifth time. As before, the event involved journalists from two Federal Districts – Southern and North Caucasian. Prominent journalists and chief editors of leading newspapers and magazines marked this first – modest – jubilee by acknowledging a notable improvement of the quality of works submitted for the competition. Visiting celebrity journalists from Moscow said they were amazed to see their provincial colleagues highlighting as important problems as they do and giving them as in-depth coverage as theirs. Federal media would be honoured to carry many of such publications, the guests said.

Any journalist is eligible to take part in the competition, but it so happens that the best works have been contributed, year after year, by correspondents for independent newspapers, magazines and news agencies. It is they who participated in the closing-day (25 January) discussion of a range of burning problems facing the national journalistic community. Such discussions, as well as master classes by celebrity journalists, are distinctive features of the Iskra Yuga festivals. After the award-presentation ceremony, chief editors and correspondents get together to share their problems with each other and exchange views on a variety of issues. They talk as equals, without regard for one’s high public status (or lack thereof), and each is free to speak out.

This time, ceremony participants focused on an issue of worldwide importance – the future of the print media. They talked about whether newspapers and magazines have a future at all or if they are destined to oblivion under the pressure of increasingly popular Internet publications. Many agreed with Ekspert science magazine editor Aleksandr Privalov’s view expressed during his master class “How the Journalist’s Profession Changes in Today’s World”.

“At one time, when cinematography appeared, many people likewise predicted that the theatre would soon be forgotten,” he said. “Yet the theatre is still alive and quite popular today. Moreover, a ticket to the theatre costs about 1,500 roubles (US $50) and to the cinema 300 roubles (US $10). With the print media, it’s pretty much the same: the readers feel more comfortable holding a fresh number of a newspaper or magazine in their hands… The world’s most popular publications are still issued in millions of copies.”

Many such publications are released in Russia as well (with newspaper circulations, as a rule, by far exceeding those of magazines), and quite a few of them in the country’s south. But in addition to the problems facing the print media worldwide, we have our own, specific problems, largely related to the distribution of newspapers and magazines. Speaking at a round table discussing this matter, Aleksandr Oskin, president of the Press Distributors’ Association, urged everyone “to help the postal service”, which he said is “in dire financial straits” even with the huge subsidies it receives from the federal budget. But most of the other discussion participants contended that post offices “withhold half of a publication’s subscription price”, thus suggesting that delivering a publication to the reader costs as much as the entire process of its release, including the authors’ fees and the costs of newsprint and printing-house services. This situation looks absurd indeed, but Pochta Rossii, the national press distributor, claims it still has not enough and wants more for its services.

The monopoly-holding distributor’s thirst for money calls into question the very existence of subscriptions and subscription publications, Irina Samokhina, general director of Krestyanin Publishers’, pointed out emotionally.

“Readers in a southern province and those in Moscow or, say, St. Petersburg are very different in a whole range of aspects, including their levels of income,” she said. “Residents of small towns, townships or villages just can’t afford paying much to subscribe to their favourite publications. There are problems with retail press sales, too. The owners of press pavilions often charge so much for their services that it all sounds much like the popular joke, ‘I’ll charge you such a price that you won’t buy anything at all from me!’”

The existence – or, rather, survival – of Russian provincial media is a topic for a separate discussion. But with the quality of contestants’ journalistic works steadily improving, “the rumoured impending death of provincial journalism is a gross exaggeration”. The group of winners of the 2012 Iskra Yuga awards includes journalists of the Ekspert-Yug magazine, the newspapers Krestyanin, Otkrytaya Dlya Vsekh I Kazhdogo (Stavropol), Volgogradskaya Pravda and Komsomolskaya Pravda (Volgograd), Puls Osetii (Republic of Ossetia); Kto Glavny magazine; and newspapers Yuzhny Federalny, Upolnomochen Zayavit and Moskovsky Komsomolets na Donu.

As regards future round tables, the Iskra Yuga organisers – the Media Union and Ekspert Publishers’ – plan to discuss no less urgent and important problems, among them government-media relations in today’s Russia.

Editor’s note: Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in the Southern Federal District, won the 2012 Iskra Yuga Award in the “Best Political Publication” nomination. Our congratulations to Anna – this is indeed a remarkable achievement!

Another Rostov-based journalist, Viktor Shostko of the newspaper Krestyanin, won the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”, thereby adding to the favourable impression about the level of journalism in the region.

 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

Statement by Karelia Journalists’ Union

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has ordered a personnel reshuffle that caused our bewilderment, indignation and protest. As reported by federal media, he replaced Elvira Averyanava as director of the Kizhi Culture Preserve by Karelia’s ex-head Andrei Nelidov, who was fired by President V. Putin last summer.

Nelidov’s early replacement as governor was, in and of itself, an accurate professional characteristic given to him by the president. In light of that, Minister Medinsky’s decision contradicts any managerial logic: after Nelidov failed (as governor), he was appointed – for some unclear reason – to run a world-renowned culture preserve, Kizhi. The way museum science specialists and the general public look at it, one could hardly ever make a more irrational and more absurd choice, as regards human resource management! A failed republican ex-leader is now being offered a job he knows nothing about, a job he is professionally unprepared to do; moreover, his vision of the “value of the Kizhi Culture Preserve”, now known to the general public, is absolutely at odds with what running any museum is all about!

For Nelidov and his team, Kizhi is a potential object for profitable commercial activity. If someone with such an attitude were put in charge of a world-renowned UNESCO monument, world culture might lose a brilliant item of cultural heritage. Personalities aside, people to whom money is everything should not – in principle – be admitted to the sphere of spiritual values!

Members of the Karelia Journalists’ Union Board demand an end to experiments with Kizhi, which is part of Russia’s historical and cultural heritage of worldwide importance. Minister Medinsky’s personnel-management decision must be cancelled. A director of the Kizhi Culture Preserve must be appointed with due regard for the opinion of specialists and the general public.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT

Supreme Court to consider appeals against two scholars’ conviction of high treason

The RF Supreme Court at 9:30 a.m. on 5 February is to consider appeals filed by the lawyers of two professors of the Baltic State Technical University, Yevgeny Afanasyev and Svyatoslav Bobyshev, whom the city court in St. Petersburg convicted of high treason and sentenced to 12 and a half and 12 years, respectively.

For details about this new “spy case”, see deloafanasev.ru. The website is open to all and will enable each visitor to form one’s own opinion about the matter.

 

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