Дайджест
28 Января 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 462


TOPIC OF THE WEEK
Interior minister urged to end police arbitrariness

EVENT OF THE WEEK
One year since Baburova and Markelov’s killing

RUSSIA
1. Omsk. Attempt to intimidate opposition journalist
2. Khabarovsk Territory. Newspaper editor threatened
3. Republic of Dagestan. Editor reinstated by court decision
4. Perm Territory. District head unlawfully sacks editor
5. Rostov Region. District newspapers waging information war

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
Some statistics cited

OUR PUBLICATIONS

1. Local TV company raided
2. Professionals’ time has come?

OUR PARTNERS
1. Fourth all-Russia competition “Best Regional Newspaper-2009” announced
2. Workshop held by Regional Press Institute

DIGEST MAIL




TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Interior minister urged to end police arbitrariness

Journalists’ detention while covering opposition-organized street protest actions has long become a routine. Moreover, police officers have generally been more active going after reporters than protesters. According to GDF data, a total of 75 journalists were detained in 2006, 140 in 2007, 78 in 2008, and 62 in 2009. This is understandable, too: the law enforcers think is very important to “neutralize” unwanted eyewitnesses to prevent leaks of information about protest actions toughly dispersed by the police. “They seize anyone trying to record what happens to citizens attempting to exercise their right to hold protest rallies and marches,” GDF President Alexei Simonov says.
 
As a rule, journalists were brought to police stations and released after the protest actions were over. However, RIA Novosti news agency photo correspondent Andrei Stenin, detained on December 12 last year while fulfilling an editorial assignment of covering unauthorized pickets outside the presidential administration headquarters in Moscow, was prosecuted as an action participant (sic!) and sentenced to a fine of RUR 500.

According to police officers, Stenin did not have a document confirming that he is a journalist. Yet sources at RIA Novosti say the policemen ignored the journalistic ID card he showed them, together with the fact of his carrying professional photo equipment and the explanations he made. Colleagues are resolutely opposed to the court decision “passed on the basis of law enforcers’ perjurious testimony that actually turned the journalists into hostages of police arbitrariness”.

While imposing a conscientiously small fine (approx. USD 20), the judge created an alarming precedent: instead of focusing on their professional work journalists may now start wasting time in court defending against totally irrelevant charges.

Concerned with this kind of situation, the head-managers of several media have sent Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev an open letter urging the top-ranking police chief to protect journalists and other ordinary citizens against arbitrary treatment by his reports. The message points out that “not only a journalist whose rights are protected under the Media Law but also any other Russian citizen, regardless of his/her profession or social status, may become the target of police arbitrariness backed by fact-juggling and perjury”. On behalf of the journalistic community, the authors asked R. Nurgaliyev to “order an investigation and take steps to preclude a repetition in the future of this kind of flagrant violations of the Russian people’s rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the RF Constitution and other effective legislation”.

Among the open letter’s signatories are Kirill Kleimyonov (Channel One), Tatyana Mitkova (NTV), Marianna Maximovskaya (REN TV), Alexei Venediktov (Ekho Moskvy radio station), Svetlana Mironyuk (RIA Novosti), Mikhail Komissar (Interfax news agency), Dmitry Muratov (Novaya Gazeta), Valery Yakov (Noviye Izvestia), Tim Wall (The Moscow News), Konstantin Remchukov (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, and Pavel Gusev (Moskovsky Komsomolets).

However, the effectiveness of this appeal seems dubious. As early as January 21 Anna Usacheva, head of the Moscow City Court’s press service, warned the public against “exerting pressure on the judges”, and later in the day the RIA Novosti management recommended that Stenin should refrain from taking part in the Radio Liberty talk show where the court hearings were to be discussed.

In his interview for the Lenizdat.ru web portal, Pyotr Godlevsky, general director of NTV-Peterburg, has expressed the view that “appealing to the Interior Minister is unlikely to help – particularly considering the long list of crimes committed by our law enforcers lately. Nurgaliyev does not seem to be willing even to have it out with his own subordinates, to say nothing of his starting to defend journalists.”

One cannot but agree with that, now that many police officers’ actions of late have been ever more like those of invaders in an occupied country.



EVENT OF THE WEEK

One year since Baburova and Markelov’s killing

By Dmitry Florin,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

January 19 marked one year since the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova were shot and killed on their way back from a news conference at the Independent Press Center in Moscow’s Prechistenka Street. Several memorial actions in the Russian capital ended in clashes with law enforcers, the use of tear gas, gunfire, and a mass fistfight with OMON (special police task force).

At 5 p.m., people started queuing up to the entrance of the building at 1, Prechistenka St. where Markelov and Baburova had been killed, to lay flowers at the numerous photo portraits of the victims with burning candles stuck around in the snow. To do so, they had had to go through OMON cordons all the way from Kropotkinskaya metro station.

By 7 p.m., more than a thousand people had gathered at the site of the authorized picketing action in Petrovsky Boulevard, starting a procession towards Chistoprudny Boulevard where another authorized picketing action was to begin at 8 p.m. The site-to-site march had not been sanctioned by the Moscow administration but, according to one participant, an oral agreement had been reached about marchers walking quietly all the length of the boulevard ring without unfolding banners or chanting slogans, and with the police watching from afar.

The first clashes occurred during the street procession. When policemen began tearing victims’ photo portraits from marchers’ hands mistaking those for banners, a few high-tone verbal exchanges with the police spilled over into a fistfight. An OMON unit broke the marchers’ column into two, with people in the first wing heading for Chistoprudny flogged on and not allowed to turn or stop and the rest trying to break through to join their comrades. That is when the police used tear gas. A group of reporters found themselves in between the picketers and the police; some of them were hurt. Specifically, Vyacheslav Feraposhkin of the Caucasian Knot news agency was attacked by an unidentified police officer who gave him several pushes and smashed his camera lens.
 
In Chistoprudny Boulevard, people stood around Markelov and Baburova’s photo portraits with burning candles and placards “NO to fascism!” and “Jail Nazis!” The organizers read an appeal containing no political statements or accusations. As they started to read out Markelov and Baburova’s biographies, a group of policemen surrounded the speaker and tore away the text and the megaphone. The crowd started chanting “Shame on you!” in response. More clashes with the police followed, with people throwing snowballs, bars of ice, and anything else at hand at the police officers who then started to seize protesters using force and special equipment. The reporters videotaping the clashes found themselves in a cloud of tear gas. As the crowd attempted to press back the cordons, several gunshots were fired.

After the police command entered upon negotiations with the human rights defender Lev Ponomarev, the clashes stopped. The picketers promised to disperse if all the detainees were released. The police insisted on the vice versa scenario, with Gen. Kozlov giving a word of honor that those conditions would be observed. Human rights activists called on the protesters to “trust the police”, and the crowd dispersed. The police released the detained picketers – but not immediately.




RUSSIA

1. Omsk. Attempt to intimidate opposition journalist


By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Late on January 20, a heavy fragment of brick was thrown into the window of journalist Viktor Korb’s apartment. Breaking two glass layers, the brick landed in the children’s room. “Fortunately, we were in the living room watching TV,” Viktor says.

Another brick fragment hit a bar of the window grating. The police arrived soon to examine the site, collect the material evidence, take the victim’s written complaint, and drive away.

V. Korb sees the incident as an attempt to intimidate him in connection with his active participation in establishing a Civic Coalition in Omsk. As he wrote in his web blog, “the brick must have been thrown by subordinates of one high-ranking police officer”. He believes chances to track down the hooligans are close to zero.

2. Khabarovsk Territory. Newspaper editor threatened

Tatyana Sedykh, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moyo Poberezhye (issued in the village of Vanino) and the winner of the 2009 Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as a Deed”, has complained to GDF about threats she has received.

An unknown man called her on the phone in the middle of the night demanding answers to a number of questions. Specifically, he wanted to know why T. Sedykh had “visited Site No. 13 and the Mongokhto garrison” and what she knew “about the crashed military airplane”. “What do you want – your house burnt down or yourself done in? Or maybe you want money?” the inquisitive caller asked.

The editor reported the incident to the FSB. They told her that “we don’t deal with this kind of things” but accepted her complaint.

3. Republic of Dagestan. Editor reinstated by court decision

By Victoria Tashmatova,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Supreme Court of Dagestan has reinstated Ulyana Akayeva, the twice dismissed editor/director of the Novolaksky District municipal newspaper Golos Vremeni and television company Yedinstvo, in her former job.

After she was fired for the first time in line with Article 81.9 of the RF Labor Code for “taking an unjustified decision leading to damage to, or the unlawful use of, company assets” (formally, based on the district Auditing Commission conclusions about her misuse of budgetary funds), Ulyana appealed to the district court which reinstated her in her former position. But the district leader Magomed-Gadzhi Aidiyev sacked her again, with the district administration immediately filing an appeal with the republic’s Supreme Court. The latter, however, confirmed the primary court’s decision canceling the order on Akayeva’s dismissal as unlawful.

According to the editor herself, her two dismissals resulted from a conflict with M.-G. Aidiyev over a series of publications about the 1999 warfare in Dagestan that mentioned the names of the former Novolaksky District leader Tamerlan Omayev and Pension Fund president Amuchi Amutinov.

4. Perm Territory. District head unlawfully sacks editor

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

Oleg Borisenko, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Krasnokamskaya Pravda (KP), has been fired with no indication of motives or reasons.

On January 13, district administration head Dmitry Markelov came to the newspaper office with a bouquet of flowers to congratulate the editor and staff on Russian Press Day and speak highly of their performance. Less than a week later, on January 19, he signed Order No. 02-kn on the early termination of the work agreement with Borisenko (concluded in 2009 for a five-year term) in line with Article 278.2 of the RF Labor Code.

O. Borisenko took over as editor-in-chief in April 2009, having worked in similar positions for a number of years. With him at the helm, the newspaper’s circulation began to grow at a fast pace and its financial situation improved drastically: KP found itself in the black again at the end of 2009. But in October, elections of the new head of municipal administration had been held, with the owner of a food store network (with zero record of work as a municipal official) winning the race. Neither he nor anyone of the team members he had hastily hired paid any attention to the fact that the editor’s dismissal was in violation of Article 45.6 of the RF Law “On the Basic Guarantees of RF Citizens’ Suffrage and the Right to Participate in Referendums”. As head of a media outlet that covered the election campaign, Borisenko could not be dismissed in line also with Article 39.6 of the regional law “On Electing Local Self-Government Officials”.

After a failed attempt to meet with the head of municipal administration, the disfavored editor filed a legal claim, the more so D. Markelov had breached other labor legislation provisions, too.

Over the past two and a half years, seven newspaper editors have been sacked in Perm Territory.

5. Rostov Region. District newspapers waging information war

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Municipal elections in a remote Don River area province have been accompanied by real information wars.

The newspaper Vesti Vlasti released in the Tsimlyansky District of Rostov Region has published a refutation of its own (last April’s) publication “Saponov, Give Me a Million!” That was done in line with a decision of the district court where Vladimir Saponov, chairman of the district Deputies’ Assembly, had turned for protection of his honor and dignity, and a decision of the Rostov regional court which had turned down an appeal filed by the newspaper.

Vesti Vlasti is a supplement to the municipal newspaper Pridonye, the official organ of the Tsimlyansky District administration. Every local resident knows about V. Saponov’s conflict with the district leader Gennady Klimov that in the run-up to the pending election has grown into open hostility fueling the confrontation between the pro-Klimov Pridonye and the pro-Saponov Tsimlyanskiye Vesti. 

Both newspapers have used very aggressive language in publications exposing their opponents. According to Pridonye, Saponov failed to duly pay his taxes in 2006, thereby “stealing RUR 7 million from pensioners and disabled citizens”, which statement the court required the newspaper to refute as libelous. The refutation was printed in a small-size font on the last page, with the rest of the issue devoted to an editorial commentary and a new “revealing” story about Saponov.

Tsimlyanskiye Vesti, in its turn, has been criticizing the incumbent district administration’s “outrageous behavior” and predicting an early and shameful end to its “tsardom”. The information war is gaining momentum: now that Vladimir Saponov has announced his intention to run for the district leader’s seat, the readers may expect a lot of no less “exciting” publications in the near future.




GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

Some statistics cited

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

http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2010/004/36.html
http://www.civitas.ru/news.php?code=8439
http://www.ikd.ru/node/12236
http://www.newizv.ru/news/2010-01-19/120199/
http://www.ng.ru/politics/2010-01-21/3_prikrytie.html
http://www.yuga.ru/news/177837/
http://www.polit.ru/news/2010/01/21/stenin.html
http://www.specletter.com/svoboda-slova/2010-01-22/chetvertaja-vlast-perehodit-v-ruki-militsii.html
http://www.asi.org.ru/ASI3/rws_asi.nsf/va_WebPages/8D2D09A42745F8E0C32576B2005CD29DRus




OUR PUBLICATIONS

1. Local TV company raided


By Vassily Kosorylov,
Kaliningrad Region

The TV/radio center at 15, Kurortry Prospekt in Zelenograndsk, Kaliningrad Region, was raided by unidentified persons on January 13.

“Actually, that was not a pogrom – all the radio and TV equipment was accurately dismantled and driven away,” says telecoms operator Yevgeny Alyoshin. “From 4 to 8 p.m. editor Olga Terentyeva, a cameraman and I were busy editing an interview with a prosecutor in our studio at 23, Kurortny Prospekt. When the transmitter suddenly switched off, we did not attach much importance to that, since there had been power supply disruptions earlier, too. With the work almost complete, I went to the TV center at 15, Kurortny Prospekt – only to find the door propped with a stick and the lock broken. It was about 9 p.m., I rushed to the police station and they appointed a detective to inspect the scene of the crime. He pushed the heavy metal door and it nearly fell full weight on him – the butts had been sawn off and it was actually hanging in the air. A group of criminalists arrived, sealing off the building. All the equipment – videotape editors, the TV and radio transmitters, three digital tuners, the sound editor, several video players, and a notebook PC – as well as 997 New Year gifts for children in district orphanages, 412 breathers for asthma patients, a flag of Russia, photo portraits of President Medvedev, Premier Putin and Kaliningrad Governor Boos, and many other things, were gone. The raiders also damaged the fiber-optic communication line. The stolen property is worth about 30,000 euro. Repairs would cost about 4,000 euro more. Even if everything is found, the equipment needs to be tested anew, for which purpose it will have to be transported to Lithuania. Considering the customs barriers, putting the TV/radio center back into operation will take no less than a month.”

The private company uniting the BAS radio station and BAS-TV television studios has become extremely popular in the Zelenogradsk District over the past year, due to its round-the-clock broadcasting, accessibility and independent editorial policy.

The raid, in the staffers’ view, was an act of revenge for our honest and unbiased reporting on the January 10th student action. They had phone calls from the district administration reproaching them for “wrong” reporting. According to some sources, that work was personally coordinated by district administration head Valery Gubarov and his deputy Igor Kondratov who consider themselves the sole masters of the district and the future of the people living in it.

“We neither praise nor criticize our local authorities severely,” continues Yevgeny Alyoshin. “Our principle is to give the floor to people. Actually, we need no commentaries. Just last Wednesday there was a small strike of stokers; we reported on it. People told their stories, analyzed facts and made assessments. They know a lot more than we do about their own profession. We only have to give them a chance to be heard. That fully complies with the provisions of the Media Law.”

Over the nearly two years of its operation, BAS has become a good friend for local residents – a friend sincerely wishing to help them understand what is going on around them in real terms.

Y. Alyoshin seems quite satisfied with his company’s performance: “We are extremely popular. People are offered to watch good movies free of charge and get the information they want on a daily basis. We have worked in close cooperation with the Employment Center. Just think of it: 260 residents called the Center during one day after reading a creeping-line ad of vacancies on their TV screens!”

This “extreme” popularity of an independent media outlet must have been a plague for the incumbent administration. One can only sorry for the viewers and listeners left without a reliable source of information, and for the BAS staffers who spent years building their company – one unmatched throughout Kaliningrad Region today.

The BAS founders have reported the raid to the police asking to institute criminal proceedings.

[Newspaper Svetlogorye, No. 1 (281)]

2. Professionals’ time has come?

By Vassily Moseyev,
Chairman, Perm branch of Russian Journalists’ Union

A total of 82 print media outlets were closed in Perm Territory in 2009, versus 18 closed a year earlier, according to Y. Shchebetkov, head of the regional branch of RosKomNadzor [federal service supervising public communications].

With a total of 1,017 registered media outlets in the region, the number of closed ones looks impressive, the more so most of those were shut down in line with court decisions. But then, according to the RosKomNadzor head, 54 newspapers were not released at all during the past year or more, which is a breach of Article 15.2 of the RF Media Law. Not a single potential reader ever held in his hands any issue of such newspapers as Bi-Bi, Pro Perm, Infokuryer, Solikamsk Vecherny, etc. The release of 28 other newspapers, such as Shans, was terminated at the request of their founders because it had become unprofitable.

During the past year the editors-in-chief of 12 print media were held liable for various breaches of Administrative Code provisions, and 27 administrative protocols were compiled in the sphere of TV and radio broadcasting, with a total of nearly RUR 300,000 charged in fines. Two warnings were issued – to Radio Alpha and the newspaper Permsky Obozrevatel – for featuring stories about the National-Bolshevist Party without a note that the party is outlawed in Russia. The district newspaper Shakhtyor was warned in connection with its publishing information about communal service debtors, i.e., for breaching the law “On Personal Data Protection”.

At the same time, not a single regional, municipal or district newspaper with a traditional pool of subscribers, nor a local TV/radio station, was closed. All the strongest teams of creative workers remain intact, although the financial crisis has negatively affected the level of journalists’ earnings and the regularity of newspapers’ release.

Besides, 98 new media outlets were registered in the region in 2009.




OUR PARTNERS

1. Fourth all-Russia competition “Best Regional Newspaper-2009” announced


The New Eurasia Foundation’s Media Support Program and ANRI, the Independent Regional Publishers’ Association, with assistance from the World Editors Forum (WEF) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), are announcing the opening of the 4th All-Russia Competition “The Best Regional Newspaper-2009”.

The jury will consider works published in 2009 in the following nominations: “The Best Regional Newspaper” (the main nomination), “The Best Explanatory Material”, “The Best Journalistic Investigation”, “The Best Feedback”, “The Best Photo”, “The Best Action”, “The Best Editorial”, “The Best Page/Supplement for Children”, and “The Best Youth Newspaper”.

For further details, see
http://www.bestnewspaper.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=197:-iv-l-2009r&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=60

2. Workshop held by Regional Press Institute

On January 14-15 the Regional Press Institute based in St. Petersburg held a workshop for journalists titled “Economic Crisis and Press Freedom” which attracted about 20 media reporters and editors from across Russia’s North-Western Federal District.

Moderator Andrei Ostalsky, former editor-in-chief of the BBC Russian Service, told the attendees how economic difficulties affected journalism in Britain and worldwide. The participants exchanged views on differences in the media’s working conditions in and outside Russia. They particularly focused on the question of media independence from their owners and the state.

Among the topical issues were problems with the level of journalists’ professionalism, the absence of viable and independent journalistic associations, and lack of professional solidarity within the journalistic community.



DIGEST MAIL

(1)
Dear friends,
Dear Mr. Simonov:

I would like to express my sincere appreciation of the regularity with which I have been receiving – for many years now – the GDF Digest which gives us an in-depth understanding of the processes going on in the media area and broadens the opportunities for studying the various aspects of the development of civil society in Russia and, indeed, of the development options for this country as a whole.

With sincere respect and hopes for further cooperation,
S. Strelyayev, general director, Public Expert Studies Center

(2)
Dear Mr. Simonov:

In Kursk Region there is a district center, the town of Rylsk, with a population of 17,000 and with three newspapers – two district and one municipal as per 2009. The youngest one, Rylsky Vestnik (RV), founded only a year ago, was established by the former district administration to provide truthful coverage of the situation in Rylsk and the villages throughout the district. You know all too well how difficult it is to start a newspaper and how much effort it takes to win the reader. Many people developed a liking for RV and looked forward to each new issue because we truthfully reported on various areas of life, including the work of municipal authorities and Mayor A. Shvetsov who had done little, if anything at all, for the electorate over the four years at the helm, but quite a bit for his family and his own precious self.

Last October the newly-elected district leader, N. Nosov, began by firing all the RV staff. Only a month prior to that, our newspaper had carried a report from a town council sitting that criticized, among other things, some aspects of the incumbent mayor’s performance. That is when a campaign of harassment was launched against the story’s author, L. Nikolayeva, for “daring to write that kind of stuff”. Without refuting a single fact in Nikolayeva’s publication, another newspaper, Rylsk, whose editor is known to be subordinated to the “insulted” mayor, Mr. Shvetsov, poured a torrent of smearing comments on the lady journalist, the former chief of staff in the town administration.

L. Nikolayeva decided to sue. Meanwhile, the persecution campaign has continued, with the newspapers Rylsk and Rayonniye Budni taking the lead. No doubt, up there in Moscow you have scores of glasnost opponents to deal with as it were, but what are we down here in remote provinces to do? We understand you must have your hands full without us, and yet we are appealing to you for assistance and protection. If anyone of your staffers decides to visit our good old town of Rylsk, just drop us a line and we will meet him/her warmly and describe the situation in every detail.

Sincerely,
Rylsky Vestnik staff




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 .

Все новости

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