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22 Октября 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 819

October 16, 2017

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Journalist's death in Yekaterinburg raises questions

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Yegorshinskiye Vesti editor-in-chief Agzam (Alexander) Sharafiyev's sudden death in Sverdlovsk Regional Hospital No. 1 on 9 October caused quite a stir among the Artyomovsky district centre public and in the regional media community. Police launched an investigation.

Sharafiyev was among the first in Russia to risk launching an independent private newspaper which recently marked its 25th anniversary. His project became popular and had a success; it won quite a few awards such as Russia's Best District Newspaper. A talented journalist, organiser and public relations manager, he and his team rocked the community more than once with their investigations and actions against negligent authorities. Townsfolk repeatedly elected Alexander as an Artyomovsky Town Council deputy. Though he had a lot of friends he had numerous enemies as well.

Many wonder what could have caused his death. Two months before he died, the journalist had a thorough medical check-up whereupon he told his colleagues at the editorial office that he was “healthy as a horse”. However, according to available information, he was a regular intravenous therapy user. Medical documents referred to “an infection,” but his colleagues and relatives are inclined to believe that the editor had been poisoned. Many Yegorshinskiye Vesti readers think that Sharafiyev's death had to do with his professional activity. Six months ago, somebody planted a trip-wire grenade at the gate to his house; the probe into the incident is still open.

“There were lots of threats and attacks; we had to take our children out of town twice,” said Agzam's wife Tatyana Sharafiyeva, chief editor of the newspaper Vecherny Karpinsk. “We took whatever was happening for granted knowing that he was just that kind of person who wouldn't back off,” she said.

The results of the forensic medical examination into the cause of Sharafiyev's death have not been released yet; the family are hoping that they will be informed about the findings.

GDF will monitor the investigation.

RUSSIA

Court reporter detained in courthouse in Yaroslavl

7x7 correspondent Daniil Kuznetsov came to the court on 9 October to hear the verdict on Yaroslavl State University student Kirill Karpov who had been detained at a street protest in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The journalist made an audio recording of the hearing, and took out the voice recorder to switch it off after the judge announced the verdict. At that point, a police officer approached Kuznetsov and accused him of illegal video filming. He demanded that the journalist immediately delete all the files and also pass him his mobile phone, which Kuznetsov refused to do. He was eventually taken to a police station where he refused to write a statement explaining his actions. The police released him several hours later.

The next day, Kuznetsov came to the Yaroslavl's Kirovsky district court to report his detention by police officer Vassily Chizhov. The journalist forwarded his statement to the regional police chief.

GDF will keep track of the situation.

Passions over “Matilda” film fly high in Yekaterinburg

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Yekaterinburg police are verifying the fact of attack on Novy Den news agency journalist Maxim Borodin on 10 October which might be linked to his views regarding the controversial film “Matilda”. City police press service staff told Znak.com that the journalist had not reported the attack immediately after it happened. The battery was reported by the first-aid station where the victim had sought medical assistance.

According to medics, Borodin suffered “a bruise to the hairy part of the head”. Police said they would check the incident and that a decision on further procedures would follow. The journalist described the incident in his post on Facebook. He wrote that unidentified persons had hit him on the head with a metal pipe after he had given an interview to Dozhd TV about his investigation of the community of admirers of Russian Emperor Nicholas II and prosecutor-turned-lawmaker Natalia Poklonskaya. The journalist called his story “The Tsarebozhniki Sect” [a group of people regarding the death of Tsar Nicholas II as a redemptive sacrifice for the Russian people - Translator.). “I sincerely believe in lowlifes, not exremists. I left out “t” deliberately. Personally, I lean to the latter version. You give an interview to Dozhd and then they have it out with you,” he wrote on Facebook.

The attackers took away all his money and bank cards. The incident might be viewed as a follow-up of the passions in the Urals capital around the scandalous “Matilda”. Earlier, an Orthodox activist drove a car loaded with gas cylinders into the roofed porch of the Kosmos Cinema causing a fire. He later said he had done it in protest against “Matilda”.

GDF is monitoring the events.

Journalist needs bailiffs to escort her to workplace in Krasnodar Region

By Galina Tashmatova, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Tbilissky district court has ruled on reinstating Prikubanskiye Ogni district newspaper correspondent Tatyana Petrova. The editorial office initiated a legal action seeking to dismiss Petrova over improper performance of her duties, yet failed to show documented evidence of her faults. Prikubanskiye Ogni editor Svetlana Sintsareva acknowledged to GDF that she had not kept a record of Labour Code violations by her subordinate and therefore was unable to substantiate her claims at the court hearing.

Meanwhile, Petrova believes that she has no longer been welcome since the appointment of the new editor and that the newspaper administration has been using any formal pretexts to fire her for Labour Code violations.

The Tbilissky district's official mouthpiece has this information on its website: “Tatyana Petrova is a correspondent, photojournalist, member of the Russian Union of Journalists, and member of the Photo Club `Kolos.' She has worked for the newspaper for more than a decade. A master of event and art photography, she covers sports, crime, Cossack community life, military-patriotic education of young people, and countryfolk problems. She is a participant, laureate and winner of journalistic contests”. The newspaper administration surely knew about the journalist profile info posted on the website, yet their assessment of her performance which they shared with the GDF was a far cry from the official data.

“Although the court ruled in my favour, I was still unable to get to my workplace. The editorial office administration said they would not allow me to enter the office until they had a hard copy of the court ruling. I had to resort to bailiffs' assistance in order to begin work. Otherwise they might record the fact of my staying away,” said Tatatyna indignantly in a telephone conversation with the GDF. She bitterly complained that all the talk about setting up a journalists' trade union in the region was empty words and that a journalist had nowhere to go for help or to seek defence in such situations.

Tatyana Petrova has two legal wards and makes payments towards a loan. However, her colleagues ignored these circumstances as they initiated a legal action to dismiss her. At the end of the conversation with the GDF, Petrova said that after the court ruling on her reinstatement, she decided to write a voluntary resignation statement. “Working at an editorial office is a collective effort of like-minded persons, it's not about settling scores,” she said.

Court in Perm conceals information about regional United Russia Party leader's violations of business rules

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Acting chairwoman of Perm's Dzerzhinsky district court Irina Boikova had failed to meet the 11 October deadline for replying to an inquiry from a GDF correspondent, in violation of the law which sets the timeframe for answer at 30 days. Importantly, the court had not reposted the once-deleted information on administrative penalty for the Perm Plant of Silicate Panels (PZSP) co-owned by leader of the local branch of the ruling United Russia Party Nikolai Demkin.

The inquiry was e-mailed on 11 September in accordance with Articles 38 and 47 of the federal law on the mass media and Article 18 of the law “On the provision of access to information on the activities of courts in the Russian Federation”. It said that “on 3 August 2017, Judge D. Novosyolova of Perm's Dzerzhinsky district court chaired a hearing which reviewed administrative offence case No. 5-356/2017 against PZSP (Article 18.15.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences). Prior to case review, the information on the proceedings against PZSP was available on the court's website in the Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction database Pravosudiye (Justice). The database showed the outcome but the court ruling was not published. As of now, the information related to the case is missing from the Pravosudiye database. The report on a 300,000-rouble fine imposed on PZSP, disseminated by the media, had drawn a large public response”.

Another inquiry was forwarded to the district court chairwoman, I. Boikova, regarding the missing information on PZSP which apparently had been removed from the Pravosudiye database, and the measures taken to restore the report in question including the court ruling.

Boikova preferred not to respond to the inquiry, so we can assume that PZSPO director and co-owner Nikolai Demkin is behind the decision to delete the report on administrative offence. He combines business while leading Perm-based United Russia Party members. The information about PZSP private housing construction in violation of Russian legislation on the use of foreign labour surely does not contribute to the reputation of the ruling party and its regional leader. In this particular case, the judicial body forgot about the openness of legal proceedings and its duty to respond to the questions asked by journalists and citizens.

BELARUS

Gomel police chief thinks it normal to spray reporters with chemicals

Konstantin Zhukovsky has decided to check a report on livestock deaths on a pig farm near Gomel and ended up in hospital.

On 8 August, the freelancer together with cameraman Andrei Tolochin went to the Dobraya Khyushka pig farm in Zelyonyye Luki village. A farm hand attacked the journalists at the gate using aerosol spray on them. The attack happened before a police officer's eyes.

After he was discharged from hospital, Zhukovsky complained to police about the officer's inaction. He eventually received an official reply from the Gomelsky District Executive Committee's Interior Department. According to Colonel Vasily Kravtsov, “a check found no violations in the police officer's actions”.

Konstantin Zhukovsky intends to file a legal action.

[BelSat report, 14 October]

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Suspected “extremist” escapes from trial in Tomsk to avoid sharing his fellow-townsman Vadim Tyumentsev's ill fate

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Rot Front (Russian Unified Labour Front) Tomsk Committee activist Yegor Alexeyev has left in an unknown direction, said a Rot Front group post in the Vkontakte social network. He fled just before he was due to appear in court to hear his verdict. Alexeyev faces charges under Article 282 of Russia's Criminal Code (“Inciting hate towards the police as a social group”). The case had been investigated for about three years before it went on trial. The investigator said Yegor Alexeyev, who was 20 at the time, posted the Anarchist Anti-fascists trailer on his VKontakte page accompanied by The Chryme Scene band's song “Sound of Revolutions”.

A linguistic expert examination found that the trailer contained insulting, humiliating and violence-inciting remarks against police. The defendant claimed that he had never posted the trailer and that he had not been a registered social media user at the time, which his party colleagues confirmed along with other persons.

In March 2015, Regional Legislative Assembly deputy Anton Sharypov, who was aware of the situation, told the TV2 news agency that “Counter-terrorism Centre operatives had broken into Yegor's apartment after 6:00 in the morning just a few days before the New Year. He was suspected of having posted a trailer in social media. Alexeyev was beaten up along with his roommates. They were offered to sign some papers which they refused. The victims underwent a specialised medical examination that documented the injuries inflicted on them”.

Charges were nonetheless brought against Alexeyev, the prosecutor's office endorsed the indictment, and a prosecutor for the state asked the court to sentence him to two years.

On 5 October 2017, Tomsk's Leninsky district court issued an arrest warrant for Yegor in absentia and put him on the federal wanted list.

His VKontakte colleagues wrote that the criminal case was “far-fetched” simply because the government bodies, tasked with catching extremists, had to invent them if they could find none. “In order to arrest Yegor, police and FSB agents wearing masks and wielding special equipment, stormed the apartment breaking the door and smashing windows,” Rot Front activists wrote.

The Sova Centre for Information and Analysis said that the remarks in “Sound of Revolutions” (regardless of who posted the clip in VKontakte) fell under Article 280 of Russia's Criminal Code (public calls for extremist activity), not Article 282, because this article “is supposed to protect from hatred more vulnerable groups than law-enforcement personnel who are protected by other Criminal Code articles”. The Centre also believes that the loosely-defined notion “social group” is a source for abuse and should be crossed out from legislation dealing with extremism.

Some two years ago, a court found Tomsk-based blogger Vadim Tyumentsev guilty of offences covered by Articles 280 and 282. The FSB and Investigative Committee saw elements of crime in two three-minute video trailers in which the blogger, while making no calls for violence, urged city residents to protest the outrage committed by fixed-route taxi owners, and to oust Lugansk and Donetsk refugees.

The court sentenced him to five years in a general-regime penal colony. The Memorial Rights Defence Centre recognised Vadim Tyumentsev as a political prisoner. The European Court of Human Rights recently accepted his complaint against the verdict for review, the Sova Centre reported.

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
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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