Дайджест
11 Сентября 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 626

9 September 2013

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Journalist Mikhail Afanasyev acquitted in Khakassia

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

A justice of the peace in Abakan on 6 September passed a verdict of not guilty in a criminal case against journalist Mikhail Afanasyev, editor of the Novy Fokus web magazine, who was accused of smearing and insulting a government official.

As reported earlier, the criminal proceedings were started in the wake of Afanasyev’s article “You Are a Liar, Colonel Zlotnikov!”, written in response to an appeal by the family of a young man detained by police on suspicion of murder. Relatives were concerned that law enforcement might try to “beat” the desired confession out of the suspect; they asked the editor to interfere. Afanasyev arrived at the local police station to shoot a TV report but was detained on orders from the police chief, Col. A. Zlotnikov, on charges of disobedience. Speaking in court, the colonel also charged the journalist with “pushing two pregnant women under the wheels of a police vehicle”, but both women disproved his words; this point was specially stressed in the court ruling, making it clear Zlotnikov had lied. Yet the journalist was placed under administrative arrest for three days.

After the publication, the police colonel initiated the start of legal proceedings against Afanasyev under Criminal Code Articles 128.1 (“Libel”) and 319 (“Insult to a government official”) (see digest 597 , and digest 607).

In the course of the trial, the judge dismissed the main argument of the prosecution – the results of a linguistic expert study of the text – as inadmissible and ruled to exclude it from the evidence.

Lawyers at the Voronezh-based Media Rights Centre provided consulting services for Afanasyev before and during the trial.

 

RUSSIA

Editor narrowly escapes arrest by bailiffs in Moscow Region

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Aleksandr Yelisov, chief editor of the newspaper Svoboda I Slovo (SIS) based in Orekhovo-Zuyevo, has told the GDF that his paper’s release was nearly disrupted on 3 September. “In the heat of work on a fresh number, uniformed people came to the office” in search of the editor, he said. Upon learning that Yelisov was out, one of the visitors said, “I’m sorry he isn’t here – we’d eagerly escort him away.”

The uniformed men turned out to be bailiffs, who “have repeatedly tried to revenge themselves on us for criticism and for announcing our intent to start an independent investigation into their activities,” Yelisov said.

The formal pretext for their coming to the SIS office was the journalists’ alleged failure to execute a court decision requiring them to publish a disclaimer. Actually, the newspaper did publish such a disclaimer once, which was enough for the diligence proceedings against it to be terminated. However, a technician turned out to have abridged the text at his own discretion, giving the judges a reason for ordering the resumption of the proceedings at the request of the plaintiff – a former police officer turned member of the local administration.

The conflict is not over yet, since none of the judicial decisions passed in this case have entered into full legal force pending an appellate authority’s ruling. Yet the bailiffs came to take Yelisov to their office by force without a warrant, although having one is “a must” in cases like this.

“I see this as an attempt to exert psychological pressure on me as the chief editor, and to coerce me into publishing another disclaimer,” Yelisov said.

The GDF will closely follow the developments in Orekhovo-Zuyevo.

Khabarovsk-based web journal makes yet another attempt to get in touch with presidential envoy’s office

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

The editor and owner of the Debri-DV web periodical has sent Yuri Trutnev, President Putin’s newly-appointed Personal Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, an application for accreditation with his apparatus.

Reporters’ accreditation – even if with high presidential or government offices – is a pretty ordinary process hardly deserving any special mention. Yet this time, it concerns an online media outlet that has long been barred from any information coming from the envoy’s office. As the GDF reported earlier, the independent journal’s reporters were denied accreditation at, and were not invited to attend, any events organised by Trutnev’s predecessor, Viktor Ishayev. Yet Roskomnadzor [federal agency overseeing public communications], where Debri’s editor complained, did not find anything wrong with that, causing him to appeal to Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov with the following message: “By denying me accreditation, the Far Eastern Envoy’s Office fails to provide the media with equal access to data to keep the public informed, and thereby violates the federal laws ‘On the Media’ and ‘On Access to Information about the Performance of Government Bodies and Local Self-Governments’” (see digest 563).

After presidential apparatchiks forwarded the editor’s complaint back to Roskomnadzor, Nikolai Novikov, head of the Department for Control and Oversight over Public Communications, finally urged Ishayev to provide the accreditation requested by Debri – but that instruction, too, was ignored.

After Viktor Ishayev was replaced by Yuri Trutnev a few days ago, the disfavoured media outlet filed yet another accreditation request in hopes of starting its relationships with the Far Eastern Envoy’s Office “from scratch”. It also asked the new office head to check the lawfulness of all the previous accreditation denials ordered by Grigory Smolyak, the regional representative’s apparatus official in charge of internal policy.

“Extremist publications” controversy continues in Omsk

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Central district court in Omsk has again condemned materials featured by the newspaper Radikalnaya Politika (RP) in the very same issue in respect of which a court ruling was already passed last November. The publications labelled “extremist” at the time included articles by Vladislav Inozemtsev, Viktor Korb, Yelena Maglevannaya and other political writers. Since then, some stories have been re-legitimated, but curiously enough, greetings from a Defence Ministry special task brigade to the-then President Dmitry Medvedev, on whose official website they were published in August 2011, were left on the blacklist. The Kirovsky district court has added to the list the article “Is a Liberal Mission Possible for Today’s Russia?” by historian Yuri Afanasyev.

.Those texts, for the most part reprinted by Radikalnaya Politika from other media sources, were blacklisted by Roskomnadzor in February – three months after the court ruling – of which Viktor Korb, the author of the outlawed essay “Contract vs. Norm”, learned quite by chance. As reported by the GDF (see digest 604-605 http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/5/1059#r7), the “extremist” content of his article boiled down to comparative analysis of the notions of “ideology” and “mythology”.

In March, Korb challenged the Central district court’s decision as one passed in the absence of the author and editor of the publication, and succeeded in getting it cancelled on the grounds that the prosecutor’s claimed inability “to identify those persons and their whereabouts” was untrue (see digest 613). The case was returned to the same court for review. Korb managed to involve in the second trial RP’s chief editor Boris Stomakhin, who was kept at Moscow’s Pre-trial Detention Centre No. 4, as well as political emigrants Yelena Maglevannaya and Anton Ruchkin. The detention centre administration, however, declined for some unclear reason to let Stomakhin issue a power of attorney to have his interests represented in court.

The trial was “unique” inasmuch as no subject matter of the proceedings was ever presented to the court in the five months of the hearings, Korb told the GDF. Neither the prosecutor’s office nor the FSB – the initiators of the trial – could find at least a single print or online copy of the underlying RP issue (dated September 2011). During its eight sittings, the court was busy reviewing texts of unknown origin with references to the Politomsk.ru website, on which the “extremist” stuff was allegedly posted (although another court, in the Sovetsky district of Omsk, had earlier dismissed those references as irrelevant).

This notwithstanding, Judge Sosnin did satisfy the prosecutorial claim, although it is still unclear whether in full or in part, since the court announced only the operative part of its decision. In the course of the trial, the prosecutor’s office, evidently beset by doubt, reduced its demands in scope: it agreed to having Inozemtsev’s article, Korb’s essay and a few other texts crossed out from the blacklist – unlike the police greetings to Medvedev, which have become part of a play written by an unknown playwright.

Boris Stomakhin’s publications, too, remain outlawed – in Korb’s view, in order to reinforce the positions of the prosecution in a legal case involving the same charges that were brought against Stomakhin earlier and resulted in his having served a five-year term in a penal colony. In November 2012, Stomakhin was arrested again and accused of “public justification of terrorism” (Article 205), “calls for acts of extremism” (Article 280), and “instigation of enmity and hatred” (Article 282 of the RF Criminal Code).

If the Central district court satisfies the prosecutorial claim in full, “not only will this add to the absurdity of what is going on but will also demonstrate the totally unfair nature of Russia’s political system as a whole,” Viktor Korb said.

Former FSB official in Chelyabinsk loses all interest in suing journalist for libel

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The Sovetsky district court in Chelyabinsk has turned down a legal claim lodged by Aleksandr Ryabchenko, a former deputy chief of the regional FSB department, against journalist Vladimir Filichkin and two newspapers – Yuzhnouralskaya Panorama, the official mouthpiece of the regional government and Legislative Assembly, and the municipal daily Vecherny Chelyabinsk.

Ryabchenko claimed protection of his honour and dignity and asked for a disclaimer of information contained in an article published by both newspapers. Filichkin’s article, “They Sometimes Come Back”, hinted at the former FSB official’s potential connections with a criminal gang. The case was brought to court in February. The judges declined to qualify the story as libellous.

The plaintiff has lately lost all interest in the judicial case and stopped attending the hearings. Observers see this as one explanation why the proceedings have now been terminated. Another is that Filichkin is a co-owner of both newspapers. Or maybe the FSB officer has decided to spare the journalist’s feelings.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in August 2013

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Nikolai Potapov, editor, Selsovet newspaper, Stavropol Region).

Attacks on journalists – 6 (Anatoly Gryaznov, reporter, Pozitsiya web newspaper, Vologda; Vera Kichanova, reporter, Slon.ru, Moscow; Anton Aksyonov, correspondent, Chetvyortaya Vlast newspaper, Saratov; Svetlana Topilina, correspondent, 100 TV Channel, St. Petersburg; Pavel Nikulin, correspondent, Russkaya Planeta, Moscow; Nikita Kolpakov, reporter, Ekho Moskvy radio station, Saratov).

Attacks on media offices and TV centres – 1 (Nord Ost Inform news agency, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky).

Instances of censorship – 4 (Dinamo-TV video channel, Moscow; AutoRadio, Moscow; press in Moscow Region; Zarya newspaper, Trans-Baikal Region).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 3 (Andrei Stolbunov, editor, Spravedlivost website, Moscow; Aleksandr Serebryannikov, author and owner of Bloger51.com website, Murmansk; Vassily Purdenko, Free Speech in Adygea blog, Republic of Adygea).

Unlawful sacking of editor or journalist – 3 (Tatyana Sadovova, editor, Boris Terekhov, journalist, and Vadim Safonov, web portal editor – all three of Pervy Tulsky TV channel, Tula).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 2 (Marat Khairullin and Sergei Ostroverkhov, reporters, Mir Novostei newspaper, Volgograd Region; Tagir Minbayev, freelance journalist, Bashkortostan).

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) – 20

Threats against journalists and media – 5 (Vitaly Gordeyev, chief editor, Nord Ost Inform news agency, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky; Nikolai Potapol, editor, Selsovet newspaper, Stavropol Region; Svetlana Topilina, reporter, 100 TV Channel, St. Petersburg; Anatoly Kuznetsov, editor, Anapa-pro news website, Krasnodar Region; Sergei Reznik, freelance journalist, Rostov-on-Don).

Attempts to eject a publication, etc., from its premises – 1 (Izvestia Kalmykii newpaper, Republic of Kalmykia).

Refusals to print (or distribute) media – 1 (Yabloko Party’s newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region).

Closure of media – 1 (Artkhronika magazine, Moscow).

Withdrawal, purchase or seizure of print run – 6 (Novaya Kalmykia newspaper, Kalmykia; Yabloko Party’s newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region; Za Narodnuyu Vlast newspaper, Novosibirsk Region; Grazhdanskaya Platforma Party’s newspaper, Vologda; Zarya newspaper, Trans-Baikal Region; Zhizn v Pereslavle newspaper, Yaroslavl Region).

Interference with Internet publications – 9 (Twitters of RIA Novosti and RIA Novosti Deutsch news portals, Moscow; Fair Russia Party’s website, Moscow; Gazeta.ru - twice, in St. Petersburg and Ulyanovsk; Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper’s website – in Ulyanovsk; Chernovisk newspaper’s website, Dagestan; Dialog news agency’s website, St. Petersburg; Roskomsvoboda website, Moscow).

Issue of duplicate, i.e. rival, newspapers – 4 (Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Ryazan; Yaroslavskaya Pravda newspaper, Yaroslavl; Pozitsiya newspaper, Irkutsk; Nedelya Volzhskogo, Volgograd Region).

Seizure of, or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 1 (PC of Vassily Purdenko, Free Speech in Adygea blog, Republic of Adygea).

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 38

 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

Voronezh school for investigative bloggers invites students

Voronezh-based bloggers are invited to enrol for the Bloggers’ School programme “Journalistic Investigations and the Blogosphere: Civic Activity & Journalists’ Desire to Make Themselves Professionally Heard in Virtual Space”.

The school, co-sponsored by the Glasnost Defence Foundation and the Fund for Support to Investigative Journalists, has operated for five years and has already held courses in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl and other Russian cities. The training sessions in Voronezh will be held with assistance from Voronezh State University’s School of Journalism and the local Media Rights Defence Centre.

The two-month course will start in October. The syllabus includes lectures, seminars and practical classes in methods of conducting investigations, the Russian language, ethics, law, and other subjects. The group of instructors includes prominent Russian journalists, lawyers, sociologists, linguists, politicians and other specialists, with Grigory Pasko, director of the Fund for Support to Investigative Journalists, at the head.

After a review of the applications, a group of 12 trainees under 45 years of age will be selected. The schooling will be free. Upon completing the course, the trainees will receive graduation certificates. Applications with attached resumes are to be emailed to skvmen @ mail.ru before 25 September. Each applicant should briefly explain why he/she wants to take the Bloggers’ School course.

 

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.

We acknowledge the assistance of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

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 Monitring 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 438, 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