9 Апреля 2010 года


Chairmen’s duet

Boorishness pure and simple

1. Moscow. Nationalists’ legal claim against human rights defenders turned down
2. Nizhny Novgorod Region. Editor’s prosecution continues. Continued from Digest 438-439
3. Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District. Editor questioned by FSB
4. Rostov Region. Journalists’ Union demands an end to district editors’ dismissals

Journalist denationalized


Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in March 2010

Competition for environmental journalists announced



Chairmen’s duet

At a recent conference with President Medvedev, Sergey Mironov, Chairman of the Council of the Federation, accused the media of “playing into the hands of terrorists by trying to convince the public of the Russian law enforcement bodies’ inefficiency”. State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov went even farther, alleging that some publications in the newspapers Vedomosti and Moskovsky Komsomolets and terrorist actions “may be interconnected”.

Gryzlov is commonly known to be in the habit of making “sensational” statements time and again. Mironov’s attempt to give the journalists yet another dressing-down is not surprising, either. But their moving as a well-tuned duet to pin the terrorist blame on the media does give rise to concerns.

Actually, the law enforcers’ inefficiency is thrown into bold relief not by the press but by the law enforcers themselves, who are at best efficient (and rude) in dispersing protest actions, as everyone knows. As regards Mr. Gryzlov’s statements, one should regard them either with humor or with apprehension. The more one listens to him, the more one tends to choose the former option.

The media have already replied to the accusations. According to Grani.ru, Vedomosti editor Tatyana Lysova has called Gryzlov’s allegations “fantasizing” and said she shares the views of Moskovsky Komsomolets editor Pavel Gusev who described the Duma Speaker in a recent interview with Slon.ru “a shame to democratic Russia”.

President Dmitry Medvedev calmed the two chairmen down: “There is nothing special about the media criticizing the law enforcers, secret services and authorities in general whenever such serious crimes [the recent bombings at two metro stations] are committed. That is normal,” the newspaper Noviye Izvestia reported.


Boorishness pure and simple

On March 30 people were laying flowers at the Park Kultury metro station platform where an explosive device had been set off by a suicide bomber. Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, came among others to honor the victims’ memory.

In the middle of the mourning ceremony, some rascal suddenly cried out: “You’re still alive?” and hit the elderly woman on the head.

The attacker was instantly neutralized by some men from the crowd and handed over to the police to prevent his lynching. Since many agreed that that might be a provocation, Oleg Orlov, head of the human rights center Memorial followed him to the police station and was present during his questioning. The attacker identified himself as Konstantin Pereverzev from the district of Solntsevo; he kept repeating he was an “orthodox patriot” and a student of some religious school.

“I am an old, law-abiding woman. I think it wrong for a young guy to beat an old woman,” Alexeyeva commented.

The incident stirred a wave of public indignation. Allison Gill, director of Human Rights Watch’s office in Russia, called it “a nightmare”. Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin described the attack on the 82-year-old human rights activist as “an abhorrent thing done by a mean thug”. He said the police command had assured him that “the person who committed that unthinkable offense has been detained, and there are many eyewitnesses”. “I very much hope that the said person will not, somehow or other, shift away from the focus of law enforcers’ or general public attention,” Lukin said.

Public focus on the incident may have already played its role: legal proceedings have been instituted against the detained “orthodox patriot” from Solntsevo under Article 116a of the RF Criminal Code on assault and battery charges – an offense punishable by coercive labor for 120 to 180 hours, or correctional labor for 6 to 12 months, or arrest for 4 to 6 months, or imprisonment for up to two years.

But then, the attacker was released from detention as early as March 3, having given a written pledge not to leave town – a preventive measure taken in the event of minor offenses. One is left to wonder what the punishment would be if some lady minister or lady deputy happened to be in Lyudmila Alexeyeva’s place…
Will the case go all the way to court, and what kind of sentence will be passed?


1. Moscow. Nationalists’ legal claim against human rights defenders turned down

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

The Khamovniki District court has turned down a legal claim lodged by the Nashi movement against the web publication Polit.ru.

Activists of Nashi [a national-patriotic movement positioning itself as a youth wing of the ruling United Russia Party; its name, the possessive pronoun “our”, bears in Russian some generalizing connotations that turn the word into a unity-suggesting notion like “the guys on our side”. Also see below: “nashisty”, or “nascists” – a pun built on the pattern of the word “fashisty”, meaning “fascists” – Translator.] decided to sue after several media had protested the harassment campaign they had launched against journalist Alexander Podrabinek in the wake of an openly anti-Soviet article he had published (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/653#top ). They frowned at Polit.ru for its posting a statement by the Civil Society and Human Rights Development Assistance Council under the RF President in which human rights defenders called on the law enforcement agencies to duly protect the constitutional rights and integrity of journalist Podrabinek and his family.

The “nascists” claimed offended by the statement’s passage saying that “the harassment campaign against the journalist goes beyond the framework of effective legislation to display clear signs of extremism: the fanning of interethnic differences and violation of human rights and civil liberties. Specifically, Nashi activists are acting in violation of Article 29 of the RF Constitution.” The plaintiffs demanded a refutation of the last sentence in that passage while ignoring (sic!) the charges of extremism advanced against them – as well as the fact that the statement’s author was the Presidential Council on Human Rights. They also claimed RUR 500,000 in reputation damage compensation (although it is difficult to imagine what damage could possibly be done to the kind of reputation they have).

The defendants’ interests were represented in court by lawyer Svetlana Zemskova of the Glasnost Defense Foundation. She pointed out that Polit.ru had published socially significant information obtained from an official source – a council under the RF President – which meant the news agency was not to be held liable at all, as stipulated in Article 57 of the Media Law. “The plaintiffs said in court that they knew nothing about any councils operating under the President’s auspices – although they had a hard copy of the council’s statement certified by one of the council members, GDF president Alexei Simonov. In the course of the hearing, the judge studied the text of the statement posted on the council’s website, but the plaintiffs kept insisting that even that could not be regarded as a proof. I was surprised and appalled at their denying the very fact of the council’s existence,” S. Zemskova said.

According to her, “in the course of the sitting, a very interesting juridical nuance surfaced: the legal claim had been lodged by Nashi, whose official name is the Interregional Public Organization to Support Sovereign Democracy (IPOSSD), whereas the Polit.ru publication mentioned the Youth Anti-Fascist Movement (YAFM) – i.e., a totally different organization”. Zemskova also called attention to the fact that “the Presidential Council only expressed its opinion, and refuting an opinion means acting in violation of the Constitution. We cannot possibly refute what has been stated by a public organization.”

As a result, the claim was turned down. Earlier, on December 17, 2009, Nashi’s claim against the Ekho Moskvy radio station had similarly been rejected by the Presnensky District court, filed in the wake of the EM website posting entitled “Pro-Kremlin Movement ‘Nashi’ Harasses Journalist Alexander Podrabinek and His Family”. The court highlighted the point that “non-profit organizations of which the plaintiff is one cannot claim protection of their business reputation because they have none.”

For fairness’ sake, it should be noted that Nashi has been awarded RUR 5,000 (having originally demanded RUR 5,000,000) by the Ostankino District court on a legal claim against Newsweek Russia which, too, reported about their harassment of A. Podrabinek. The court required the defendant to refute the sentence: “As they pressed for a meeting with him, the ‘nascists’ tore his mailbox off the wall…”

2. Nizhny Novgorod Region. Editor’s prosecution continues. Continued from Digest 438-439

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Alexander Andronyuk, the founder and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Arzamasskiye Vesti (AV), is still under prosecution in Arzamas.

He was detained last summer on charges of extortion – the prosecutors say he pressed hard on the managers of a local industrial plant to sign a subscription agreement with him or see compromising information published in his newspaper (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/633#rus7 ).
Problems had started piling up for AV and A. Andronyuk long before his detention. According to Yuri Kudimov, editor of Nezavisimaya Arzamasskaya Gazeta, both official press distributors, such as RosPechat and Pochta Rossii, and private ones had refused to distribute Andronyuk’s newspaper. And, according to Alexander’s wife, an unidentified man had attacked him in December 2008, stabbing him several times with some sharp-ended tool.

In December 2009 the city court in Arzamas found Andronyuk guilty of extortion and sentenced him to five years in a correctional labor camp and a fine of RUR 80,000. Colleagues, including Y. Kudimov, described that ruling as “totally inadequate”, there being no direct proofs of Andronyuk’s guilt.

In February 2010 the higher-standing regional court in Nizhny Novgorod canceled that decision and sentenced Alexander to a suspended 5-year term of imprisonment with a 3-year probation period.

Soon afterwards, another criminal case was opened – this time against A. Andronyuk and his deputy Anatoly Chernyagin who are facing charges of libel in respect of Mikhail Buzin, general director of the water supply and sewage company GorVodokanal: they published an article saying he had illegally seized the company. The accused are denying their guilt.

The Glasnost Defense Foundation will follow the developments closely.

3. Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District. Editor questioned by FSB

Viktor Fedosenko, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moi Gorod Bez Tsenzury (MGBT, based in Khanty-Mansiysk), was summoned to the FSB for questioning on April 2.

According to Fedosenko, he was strongly “advised” not to publish his interview – which was being prepared for printing at the time – with Rustam Aminov, the imam-muhtasib of the cathedral mosque of Khanty-Mansiysk.

“Aminov sharply criticized the performance of city officials and the police as regards their systematic crackdowns on Muslims on the pretext of combating terrorism. It is still unclear how the text of the would-be publication was obtained by the FSB,” V. Fedosenko told the Glasnost Defense Foundation.

Later in the day, the FSB summoned R. Aminov himself for questioning and attempted to persuade him, too, to prevent the publishing of his interview by MGBT.

“The interview with Rustam Aminov will be published as planned, on April 8, without any editing or coordination and regardless of the events of April 2,” Fedosenko said in conclusion.

The full text of the interview will be posted on the MGBT website at www.bezcenzura.ru  on the day of the new issue’s release.

4. Rostov Region. Journalists’ Union demands an end to district editors’ dismissals

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

The board of the Rostov branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union has sent Governor Vladimir Chub a message expressing concern over the continuing dismissals of district newspaper editors. After the district administration reshuffles in the wake of the March 18 municipal elections, many new leaders decided, as a matter of priority, to fire the editors of local newspapers and replace them with their own appointees. One of the dismissed persons is Nikolai Sivashov, a veteran journalist and editor, head of the information/publishing center Pridonye (Tsimlyansky District) and an Honored Culture Worker of Russia. He spent many years managing the publishing center successfully, building a printing house and a press delivery service of the company’s own.

During the election race, the municipal newspaper was compelled to defend the interests of the then district leader Gennady Klimov. When he lost, the new Tsimlyansky District administration head Vladimir Saponov ordered the dismissal of Pridonye editor-in-chief, N. Sivashov, together with his deputy, Mr. Romanenko. Was it because of ideological differences? The former district leader was a member of the United Russia party, whereas the incumbent one belongs to the Fair Russia party. But then, why replace Donskiye Ogni editor Maria Zolotaryova in the Konstantinovsky District (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/718#rus2 ), where both the new district head Boris Khlopyanikov and his predecessor are United Russia party members? Zolotaryova is a very good professional who acted in full compliance with the law both prior to and during the elections, and her newspaper is very popular locally and has a stable pool of subscribers.

The Rostov journalists’ appeal to the governor did help: Tsimlyansky District head Saponov canceled his decision to fire editor Sivashov. As for Zolotaryova, she is still jobless, with her newspaper signed for printing now by a new editor (her former deputy).

TV company head Nadezhda Perepelitsa (Oblivsky District) has informed the Journalists’ Union that prior to the elections the company’s founder, the district administration led by United Russia member Yuri Knyshov, had terminated the news show OTV-Novosti and submitted its registration certificate to the supervisory body, RosKomNadzor. After the elections, the journalists appealed to the new district leader, Communist party member Alexander Zolotovsky, but failed to find understanding on his part.

OTV had worked for 17 years. As the Rostov branch of the RJU said in its appeal to the regional governor, “It would seem we should expect continuity of power and consolidation of forces. Nothing of the kind! Media editors’ posts are assigned to cronies, and personnel policy is ever more often built on the principle of personal devotion, disregarding the appointees’ professional or business qualities”.


Journalist denationalized

Pavel Sheremet, the founder of the opposition web publication Belorussky Partizan and a former reporter for ORT (Public Russian Television), has been notified by the Belarussian Embassy in Moscow of his deprivation of Belarussian citizenship.

The notice says the decision was taken “in view of Sheremet’s receiving Russian citizenship”. The journalist is invited to come to the embassy, submit his Belarussian passport and receive a certificate of denationalization. Commenting on the situation, Sheremet said he had not renounced his citizenship personally; according to Belorussky Partizan, the relevant decision was approved by the republic’s Security Council. The journalist himself sees that as Belarussian authorities’ attempt to revenge themselves on him for his professional activities. “I am not going to challenge [the denationalization decision] because it would be a totally senseless thing to do,” he said.

Pavel Sheremet, born in Minsk, was a Belarussian correspondent for ORT since 1996. A year later, he was detained by Belarussian law enforcers while shooting a story about a conflict at the Russo-Belarussian border, charged with illegal border crossing, unlawful journalistic activity and collaboration with foreign secret services, and sentenced to a suspended 2-year term of imprisonment.

The latest decision to denationalize the journalist was preceded by a series of official media publications, such as an angry letter by World War II veterans, criticizing the opposition website and labeling its content “defamatory”. Sheremet and his colleagues believe those publications had been ordered by the authorities.

[Grani.ru report, 31 March]


Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in March 2010

Journalists’ deaths – 2 (Ivan Stepanov, ex-correspondent, newspaper Zabaikalsky Rabochiy, Trans-Baikal Region; Maxim Zuyev, former reporter for newspapers Kaliningradskaya Pravda and Strana Kaliningrad, city of Kaliningrad).

Attacks on journalists – 3 (Pavel Verstov, editor, Magnitogorsk news agency, Chelyabinsk Region; Vassily Popok, freelance journalist, Kemerovo Region; Vassily Kanev, reporter, and Yuri Nikiforov, cameraman, Komi Gor TV Channel, Syktyvkar).

Attacks on media offices – 2 (Radio Rekord, Sverdlovsk Region; Express TV Company, Penza).

Instances of censorship – 6 (Sakhalin media – 3 times; Asbest TV, Sverdlovsk Reigon; Tatarskaya Gazeta, Republic of Mordovia; newspaper Izvestia, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 10 (Novaya Polsha magazine, Moscow; newspaper Vechernyaya Ryazan, city of Ryazan; Igor Belousov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Khimki Nash Dom, Moscow Region; Azgar Amirzyanov, editor-in-chief, and Lilia Amirzyanova, correspondent, newspaper Nadezhda Tatarstana, Republic of Tatarstan; Vladimir Anikin, editor, newspaper Vozrozhdeniye Derzhavy, Astrakhan; Dmitry Terekhov, editor-in-chief, and Vladimir Atamanchuk, journalist, newspaper Lazarevskaya Panorama, Krasnodar Region; Alexander Andronyuk, editor-in-chief, and Anatoly Chernyagin, deputy editor-in-chief, newspaper Arzamasskiye Vesti, Nizhny Novgorod Region).

Editor/journalist unlawfully sacked – 1 (Maria Zolotaryova, editor, district newspaper Donskiye Ogni, Rostov Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 5 (Murad Muradov, correspondent, weekly Novoye Delo, Republic of Dagestan; Yevgeny Titov, correspondent, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Krasnodar Region; Israpil Shovkhalov, editor-in-chief, and Abdullah Duduyev, deputy editor-in-chief, Dosh magazine – both detained in Ingushetia; Igor Belousov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Khimki Nash Dom, Moscow Region; Anton Nosik, freelance journalist, Moscow).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 43, worth a total of RUR 114,747,200 and USD 225,000.

Earlier claims to journalists and media, considered – 36, satisfied – 19, total amount of moral damage compensation charged - RUR 1,825,200 and USD 225,000.

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.) – 36.

Threats against journalists and media – 2 (Vitaly Arkov, author and administrator of web portal PolitRus, Elista; Yevgeny Shabanov, director, radio station Rekord, Sverdlovsk Region).

Refusal to print or distribute media – 9 (newspaper Khvatit, Yekaterinburg; newspaper Moment Istiny, Novosibirsk Region; newspaper Znamya, Arkhangelsk Region; newspaper Tatarskaya Gazeta, Republic of Mordovia; newspaper Zolotaya Gorka, Sverdlovsk Region – thrice; newspaper Za Sechny Rubezh, Tula – twice).

Interference with TV or radio broadcasts – 1 (city radio in districts across Murmansk Region).

Closure of media outlets – 2 (newspaper Courier Karelii, Karelia; newspaper Bystryi Neitron, Sverdlovsk Region).

Confiscation, purchase or arrest of print run – 4 (newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Kaliningrad; newspaper Inaya Gorodskaya Gazeta, Perm Region; newspaper Vechernyaya Ryazan, in Vladimir; newspaper Protestnoye Dvizheniye, Vladivostok).

Interference with web publications – 8 (website of Yezhednevny Zhurnal publication; website of UralDaily.ru news agency; website BaltInfo.ru; website Games-tv.ru; website Tvali.ge; website 20March; website Z-city.ru; website URA.ru).

Release of duplicate (i.e. rival) newspapers – 3 (newspaper Sovetskaya Kuban, Krasnodar Region; newspaper Tretya Stolitsa, Omsk; newspaper Orlovskaya Iskra, Oryol).

Confiscation of/damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 1 (video camera of Rossiya TV Channel, Moscow).

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 31.

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



Competition for environmental journalists announced

The Embassy of Finland and the International Media Partnerships Program (IMPP) administered by the U.S. International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) are announcing a competition for journalists reporting on environmental topics. The winners will spend a week in Finland on a press tour the program of which includes meetings with Finnish colleagues; a visit to Parliament for talks with Ecological Committee officials; meetings with veterans of the Finnish environmental protection movement; an insight into ecological problems facing the capital Helsinki and the Baltic Sea; and discussion of innovative ecological technology.

Applicants need to be active journalists covering environment-related themes. To be eligible for participation in the competition, they need to send their CVs, scanned copies of newspaper pages with their reports or transcripts of their radio or TV reports, in package with a cover letter, to the address: media@irex.ru.


Dear colleagues,

This is to request you advise as to where my newspaper Moi Gorod Bez Tsenzury (based in Khanty-Mansiysk) could possibly apply for financial support. Working on our own, we can only afford paying for the printing services and the delivery of print run from Tyumen (our local printing house is refusing to print our newspaper), as well as paying minimum salaries to the staff. We have been compelled to stop renting an office because of dire financial straits, and there are only two staff members left on the payroll.

Over the three years of operation, we have had to defend against numerous legal claims lodged against us, although we have so far lost only two, with one of them currently under consideration by the Supreme Court of Arbitration (we still hope we may win it, after all). Khanty-Mansiysk being a city of government officials, advertisers have been unwilling to place their ads (besides, we haven’t got an advertising manager on our staff list). Who do you think might give us a helping hand?


Viktor Fedosenko,
founder and editor-in-chief

Contact phones:

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 Yefremov – 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.
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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