Дайджест
14 Декабря 2009 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 456


TOPIC OF THE WEEK
Andrei Sakharov awards to be presented December 12

EVENT OF THE WEEK
Premier shows off on TV

RUSSIA
1. Saratov. Fair decision passed after five years of waiting
2. Republic of Karelia. Supreme Court takes journalists’ side
3. Perm Territory. Court finds in favor of newspaper
4. Volgograd. Different judicial decisions passed on similar cases
5. Moscow Region. Journalists stripped of accreditation with district authorities

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

1. GDF president receives WPFC award
2. Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in November 2009

OUR PUBLICATIONS
Local media turn blind eye to pensioners’ hunger strike in Magnitogorsk. Continued from Digest

OUR PARTNERS
RSF award winners named




TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Andrei Sakharov awards to be presented December 12

The group of finalists of the 9th Andrei Sakharov Award Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” includes the following persons:

Galina Eisner, newspaper Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy (Krasnoyarsk); Sergey Orlov, newspaper Ufa Gubernskaya (Ufa); Alexander Yagodkin, newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Voronezhe (Voronezh); Abdullah Duduyev, Dosh magazine (Moscow); Pavel Gutiontov, newspaper Delovoy Vtornik (Moscow); Boris Vishnevsky, newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Sankt-Peterburge (St. Petersburg); Lyubov Apalkova, newspaper Zolotoye Koltso (Yaroslavl); Vyacheslav Golubtsov, newspaper Golos Sharyi (Kostroma Region); Erik Chernyshov, Novy Fokus web magazine (Sayanogorsk); Yulia Kalinina, newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets (Moscow); Andrei Piontkovsky, Grani.ru web publication (Moscow); Tatyana Sedykh, newspaper Moyo Poberezhye (Khabarovsk Region); Marina Zavadskaya, newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti (Vladivostok); Natalia Ostrovskaya, newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (Vladivostok); Malilka Betiyeva, Dosh magazine (Grozny); Natalia Radulova, Ogonyok magazine (Moscow); Nadezhda Alisimchik, Надежда Алисимчик, newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti (Vladivostok); Anastasia Popova, newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti (Vladivostok); Viktor Bulavintsev, newspaper Dalnevostochkiye Vedomosti (Vladivostok); Nadezhda Andreyeva, newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Saratove (Saratov); Olga Gulenok, Kasparov.ru website (Moscow); Igor Tsagoyev, newspaper Severny Kavkaz (Nalchik); and Anna Seleznyova, newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti (Vladivostok).

The Jury’s special diplomas will be given to Nelly Margulis (newspaper Volkhonka, town of Noginsk, Moscow Region) and the newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti, Vladivostok.

The nominees and winner, to be selected from the finalists’ list above, will be named at the award-giving ceremony which is to open at the Andrei Sakharov Museum/Public Center (57, Zemlyanoi Val, Bldng.6) at 2:30 p.m. on December 12. The attendees will be presented with the book “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” – a collection of the best works of participants in last year’s Sakharov Competition.

In 2009, the competition involved about a hundred authors from dozens of regions across the Russian Federation – from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Vladivostok to Nalchik and Grozny to St. Petersburg and Pskov. The winner and nominees have been invited to come to Moscow to receive awards and diplomas. The latter will also be given to all the finalists as well as the media outlets that published the winner’s and nominees’ works.




EVENT OF THE WEEK

Premier shows off on TV

Vladimir Putin has once again “talked to the nation” via a TV link – a tradition established back at the time of his presidency (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/427#theme; http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/322#tema; http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/272#event ).

As before, the event was very well prepared. According to Grani.ru, “undesirable” journalists were not admitted to the sites where two-way communication with the premier was proceeding. For example, Erik Chernyshov, a Sayanogorsk-based journalist who reported about the Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant disaster last August, had duly applied for accreditation but received no answer; and when he attempted to get into the power plant’s turbine hall to personally ask a question, he was held back by security guards.

Media reporters were also barred from the Bazeltsement-Pikalevo works in Leningrad Region to participate in Putin’s satellite link with workers. The group of “pariah” journalists included reporters for Channel Five, 100TV, newspapers Nevskoye Vremya and Izvestia, and the analytical web portal Zaks.ru, the news agency Lenizdat.ru says.

Putin’s “talk to the nation” was nothing out of the ordinary. According to Radio Liberty, the lists of questions had been prepared in advance, and anyone wishing to ask a different question was not admitted. “Over the 4-hour TV link, the premier answered 90 questions, most of them concerning such social and economic matters as pensions, the prices of medicines, ways to combat poverty, etc. Besides, the head of government came up with several jokes, quoted a line from a popular fable, recalled Soviet times and declined to live eternally,” the RIA Novosti news agency reported.




RUSSIA

1. Saratov. Fair decision passed after five years of waiting


The European Court of Human Rights has passed a decision on a complaint by Alexander Krutov, an observer for the Saratov-based magazine Obshchestvennoye Mneniye, stating that the Russian courts unfairly fined A. Krutov and the newspaper Nedelya Oblasti for libel, thereby breaching the provisions of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court charged 150 euro from the Russian Federation in compensation for the losses incurred by A. Krutov as a result of that unfair decision, plus 1,000 euro in moral damage compensation.

It all began on January 9, 2003, when Nedelya Oblasti carried Krutov’s story “Political Disposition in 2002: Old Faces, New Times” analyzing the previous year’s developments against the background of confrontation of different political groups. The regional prosecutor’s office with Anatoly Bondar at the head was identified as a new power-thirsty political clan using very specific methods to gain material wealth. Three months later A. Bondar lodged an honor-and-dignity protection claim with the Kirovsky District court of Saratov which ordered, at the defendants’ request, a linguistic study which clearly separated the expression of the author’s opinion from the stating of specific facts. Yet in December 2003, Judge Sivochko ruled to partially satisfy the regional prosecutor’s claim, which decision was confirmed by the higher-standing regional court.

That caused A. Krutov to complain to the European Court on March 23, 2004, pointing to the fact that those judicial decisions infringed his right as a journalist to hold opinion and freely express it. The complaint was received in May and identified in October 2004 as one falling under the ECHR jurisdiction. Since that time, the case was handled by the lawyer Maxim Rachkovsky of the Moscow Center “Sodeistviye” (“Assistance”) and the prominent human rights activist Karina Moskalenko. Five years after the filing of Krutov’s complaint, the European Court found in his favor. A whole seven years after the publication, justice has finally been done to the journalist.

[Based on Obshchestvennoye Mneniye magazine reports]


2. Republic of Karelia. Supreme Court takes journalists’ side

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

Antonina Kramskikh, a reporter for the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets v Karelii, has been prohibited to use the Dictaphone during criminal hearings in court. With several prior complaints left unanswered and with the city court of Petrozavodsk having done nothing to uproot the unlawful practice, the republican Journalists’ Union filed a legal claim this time not only with the city court but also with the Supreme Court of Karelia.

The city court again responded only by a vaguely worded notice about its “taking the claim into consideration”; the Supreme Court’s response was much more encouraging. Acting Court Chair N. Kabanen’s letter said the district court judge had been warned – and had acknowledged – that she was wrong in prohibiting audio recording during court hearings. Moreover, the Journalists’ Union complaint had been discussed with all judges of the city court of Petrozavodsk, and all of them agreed the journalists’ claim was well grounded.

Hopefully, no more bans on audio recordings in the courtroom will follow.


3. Perm Territory. Court finds in favor of newspaper

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The regional court has reviewed a primary court’s ruling and terminated the judicial proceedings on police colonel I. Shalayev’s honor-and-dignity protection claim against the newspaper Zvezda.

Last May, Zvezda carried the text of a parliamentary address by the Legislative Assembly deputy chairman I. Shulkin who censured the local police, including the regional police department, for their poor performance. Characterizing the work of the Karagaisky District police chief, he said: “Police colonel I. Shalayev enjoys no respect on the part of either the residents or his own subordinates. He fails to deal with service-related matters with due efficiency and abuses alcohol. Thefts of timber in the Karagaisky District continue, with the district police department taking no action to curb those.”

I. Shalayev filed a legal claim with the Motovilikhinsky District court of Perm demanding a refutation and reimbursement of “the state duty and other expenses incurred in connection with attempts to restore my breached rights”. The newspaper Zvezda declined to satisfy his claim citing Article 57.4 of the Media Law which stipulates that a media outlet reproducing word for word an official statement shall not be held liable for its content.

As expected, the district court turned the colonel’s claim down, but a college of judges of the higher-standing regional court canceled the primary court’s decision. Last October, Judge O. Nigametzyanova of the Motovilikhinsky court suddenly decided to satisfy Shalayev’s claim, requiring Zvezda not only to publish a refutation but also to pay the plaintiff RUR 300 in compensation for his judicial expenses.

Taking a principled stand, the newspaper appealed against that decision to the regional court and requested an expert opinion from Prof. Mikhail Fedotov, Ph.D. (Law), secretary of the Journalists’ Union of Russia, who studied the case files in detail and sent his legal conclusions to Perm.

On December 1, the Civil Law Collegium of the regional court ruled to close the case.


4. Volgograd. Different judicial decisions passed on similar cases

By Alexander Osipov,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Two Volgograd-based media outlets sued for describing the state of affairs of one and the same company using the same information sources have heard two completely different decisions passed on their legal cases.

In April 2008 the regional supplement to the daily Kommersant and the website of the news agency Vysota 102 published reports about the confiscation of documents from the offices of ZAO Success, a company reported by the police department’s press service as having an outstanding debt in excess of RUR 1,000,000. Seeing those publications as ruinous to its business reputation, the company filed with the regional arbitration court of Volgograd two similar legal claims – one against Kommersant, the other against OOO SVZh Ostrov, the founder of the Vysota 102 news agency.

The judicial outcomes were strikingly different. Kommersant won first in the regional arbitration court, then in the 12th Arbitration Court of Appeals, and finally, on November 13, in the Arbitration Court of the Volga Federal District. Ostrov went through all the same courts but lost, leaving everyone in a state of bewilderment as to the reasons why.


5. Moscow Region. Journalists stripped of accreditation with district authorities

Authorities in the town of Zelenograd near Moscow have prohibited the reporters of Infoportal to attend district administration sessions and conferences.

Deputy Prefect Anatoly Khurumov ordered that measure evidently because the web publication looks at a variety of matters from a viewpoint differing from that of the town administration.

For the past two years, Infoportal reporters have regularly attended working meetings held by Prefect Anatoly Smirnov on Fridays, doing their best to provide objective coverage of local government activities.

Meanwhile, the prefecture’s press service has repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with Infoportal’s editorial policy but has never attempted to officially challenge the content of reports, confining its protests to oral instructions to change some headlines or remove some news reports altogether – or face the prospect of losing accreditation. The November 26th publication about the prefecture’s inordinate spending on service cars must have been the last straw: four days later the town administration’s press service disallowed the Infoportal reporters to attend any meetings held by the prefect or his deputies.

With the accreditation canceled, Inforportal will continue operating in Zelenograd judging the efficiency of administrators’ performance, as before, exclusively by their deeds, not words.

[Zelenograd InfoPortal report, November 30]




GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

1. GDF president receives WPFC award


GDF President Alexei Simonov has won this year’s prize awarded by the World Press Freedom Committee. That marked colleagues’ acknowledgement of our Foundation’s efforts to defend freedom of expression in Russia. A. Simonov became the second laureate of the WPFC award. The previous one went to Leonard Sussman, the Freedom House director.

Presenting Mr. Simonov and the Glasnost Defense Foundation, WPFC Europe correspondent Ronald Cowen said that “from the first days of the Soviet Union’s, and then Russia’s, embarking upon the path of democratization, the GDF and its head have been well-informed and reliable sherpas in overcoming barriers to press freedom in Russia. That is a cause to which the WPFC has been seeking, and will continue to seek, to contribute in whatever ways and by whatever means we can. That is why we are especially proud to present Alexei Simonov with our award established in honor of the late Dan Bullen, the first executive director of WPFC”.


2. Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in November 2009

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Olga Kotovskaya, ex-director, Kaskad TV/Radio Company, Kaliningrad).

Attacks on journalists – 7 (Oleg Rayevsky, public and social problems division head, newspaper Yarkovskiye Izvestia, Tyumen Region; crew of reporters for Vesti news show, Moscow; Vitaly Papilkin, editor-in-chief, newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets-Povolzhye, Samara; Sufyan Kalibatov, staff correspondent, newspaper Severny Kavkaz, Nalchik; Roman Yushkov, journalist, newspaper Za Cheloveka, Perm Territory; Eduard Yakushev, cameraman, and Aliya Tagirova, reporter, Vremechko news show, Ufa).

Attacks on media offices – 1 (newspaper Chelny LTD, Republic of Tatarstan).

Instances of censorship – 3 (report about a police major’s news conference on federal television channels; online version of newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Moscow; Russian Newsweek magazine, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 1 (Rolan Bystrov, correspondent, newspaper Pryamoi Dialog, Astrakhan Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 3 (Alexander Tokarev, reporter, newspaper Astrakhanskaya Pravda, Astrakhan, detained on August 31; crew of REN TV reporters, Moscow; Dmitry Steshin, political observer, newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Moscow).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 32, worth a total of RUR 34,265,000.

Earlier claims against journalists and media, considered – 20, satisfied – 11, total amount of moral damage compensation charged – 541,000.

Denial of access to information (including bans on audio/video recording and photography; denials of accreditation; restrictions on visits to or presence at events held in government agencies, at industrial enterprises, in state institutions, etc.) – 17.

Threats against journalists and media – 4 (Sufyan Kalibatov, staff correspondent, newspaper Severny Kavkaz, Nalchik; crew of reporters for Vesti news show, Moscow; Oleg Panfilov, head of Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Moscow; Roman Yushkov, journalist, newspaper Za Cheloveka, Perm Territory).

Attempts to expel media from leased premises – 1 (newspaper Chelny LTD, Republic of Tatarstan).

Disruption of TV and radio broadcasts – 2 (Rossiya Channel and GTRK Gorny Altai, both in Altai Republic).

Media outlets closed – 5 (newspaper Polyarnaya Pravda, Murmansk Region; newspapers Novosti Ivanovskoi Oblasti, Kineshemskaya Gazeta, Razgulyai Ivanovo and Plyos, all in Ivanovo Region).

Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 1 (newspaper Nezavisimaya Uralskaya Gazeta, Republic of Bashkortostan).

Interference with Internet publications – 2 (websites e-mordovia.ru and kulyat.info).

Issue of duplicate, i.e. rival, publications – 1 (newspaper Sovetskaya Kalmykia Segodnya, Elista).

Other forms of pressure and infringement of journalists' rights – 21.


3. Some statistics cited

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

http://www.chaskor.ru/article/glazami_cheloveka_ego_pokoleniya_12929
http://www.familii.ru/index.php?pCode=news&news=1444
http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2009/134/15.html
http://www.pytkam.net/web/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=1506
http://www.livekuban.ru/node/12594
http://www.proficinema.ru/mainnews/festival/detail.php?ID=73158
http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/162740/




OUR PUBLICATIONS

Local media turn blind eye to pensioners’ hunger strike in Magnitogorsk. Continued from Digest 448


By Irina Gundareva,
GDF staff correspondent in Ural Federal District

Pensioners positioning themselves as deceived stockholders of OAO MMK (Magnitogorsk Metallurgy Works) have resumed their hunger strike amidst full media silence about their protest action. They intend to burn their Russian passports and pension cards. They see no other way to attract public attention to their action.

The hunger strike, as we have already reported, began on Elderly People’s Day, October 1, and continued for nearly two months (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/656#rus3). For the past three weeks sluggish negotiations with MMK managers have been underway, giving at least some hope that this sensitive issue will finally be settled. Yet no real progress has been achieved. Activists of the Deceived Stockholders’ Committee concluded that no one intends in real terms to do anything either to return the shares and dividends or to pay the money and compensation for the stolen shares.

According to Committee press spokesman Vadim Borodin, the protesters adhered to the “gentlemen’s agreement” for three weeks, refraining from picketing actions or appeals to the media community. But even prior to that, the local media had been keeping mum about the hunger strike as if nothing at all was happening. Who wants to be fired a couple of days after issuing a newspaper report or showing a TV story?! As it turns out now, the silence only played into the plant management’s hands.

“The majority of protesters are sure the negotiations came into a deadlock because of the MMK management’s unwillingness to settle the conflict in real terms; we have only seen a desire to scale tensions down and take the edge off a bit,” Borodin said. “At last Sunday’s meeting committee members discussed the situation and decided to resume the hunger strike. Until the end of December, groups of five will keep fasting for a week each, replacing one another. Earlier, we were on strike in two teams, in shifts of 28-29 days at once. We cannot continue like that anymore because the pensioners’ condition is very poor – especially those who have had to be hospitalized. After a few weeks in cardiology wards, the following persons are resuming the hunger strike now: Antonina A. Popova, 69; Galina V. Rusanova, 71; and Anna M. Fedotova, 79. Each of them has felt very bad at times, and ambulances were called to urgently help them.

It looks like the hunger strikers are determined to carry on with their protest action as long as it takes. If no real progress is achieved before December 28, they intend to move to the reception room at the acting mayor’s headquarters.
Seeing that none of their lawful protest actions can attract sufficient public attention to their protest because of full indifference of both regional and federal media, the protesters very seriously suggest returning to an idea they already voiced earlier – to reject Russian citizenship and publicly burn their passports, together with pension cards and veterans’ certificates. The time and place of this action will be announced later.




OUR PARTNERS

RSF award winners named

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), an organization defending freedom of expression worldwide, has announced that its Press Freedom Awards will go this year to Israeli reporter Amira Hess and the Caucasus-based Dosh magazine.

Dosh won the award in the Media of the Year nomination for covering political and other events in Chechnya and other regions of the North Caucasus. Established in 2003, it has continued to operate despite the fact that press freedom has never been favored much in that region.

While receiving the award, Dosh editor-in-chief Israpil Shovkhalov and deputy editor-in-chief Abdullah Duduyev said: “This prize gives us the strength to continue working and telling what is going on in the North Caucasus.” “We are not heroes, we are only independent journalists. Today, we think about people with whom we would have been happy to celebrate this award – Zarema Sadulayeva, Magomed Yevloyev, Natalia Estemirova and Anna Politkovskaya,” I. Shovkhalov said.

RSF has conferred its Press Freedom Awards annually since 1992 on reporters and media outlets making outstanding contributions to the defense or promotion of press freedom in any part of the world. Earlier in Russia, these awards were received by Grigory Pasko in 2002 and by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta in 2006.




This Digest has been prepared by the Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF), http://www.gdf.ru.

We appreciate the support of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Digest released once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.
Distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editor-in-chief: Alexei Simonov

Editorial board: Boris Timoshenko – Monitoring Service chief, Pyotr Polonitsky – head of GDF regional network, Svetlana Zemskova – lawyer, Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy – translator, Alexander Efremov – web administrator in charge of Digest distribution.


We would appreciate reference to our organization in the event of any Digest-sourced information or other materials being used.

Contacts: Glasnost Defense Foundation, 4, Zubovsky Boulevard, Office 432, 119992 Moscow, Russia.
Telephone/fax: (495) 637-4947, 637-4420, e-mail: boris@gdf.ru, fond@gdf.ru
To be crossed out from the Digest list of subscribers, please e-mail a note to 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