14 Мая 2010 года


Reporters Without Borders names ‘predators of press freedom”

1. Republic of Dagestan. Media holding head killed
2. Moscow. Two TV channels quarrel over show of interview with Marshal Zhukov

TV channel censored

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

2010 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” continues



Reporters Without Borders names “predators of press freedom”

Marking World Press Freedom Day, the international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB) published its report “Predators 2010” May 3, listing individuals and organizations placing barriers in the way of the free performance of journalists and the media.

“They are powerful, dangerous, violent and above the law,” the RWB report says referring to a total of 40 “predators of press freedom”, among them 17 presidents and prime ministers of different countries where media freedoms are flouted, as well as politicians, religious leaders, militias and a number of organizations, such as ETA (Spain), FARC and Black Eagles (Colombia), Defense Forces (Israel), and Islamist militias (Somalia).

The list of personalities made no sensation, mostly featuring well-known names – Chinese leader Hu Jintao, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, North Korean President Kim Jong-il, Cuban leader Raul Castro, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The group also includes Presidents Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan, Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan, and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.

Russia is represented on the blacklist by two names – Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov.

“‘Control’ is the key word for this former KGB officer: control of the state, control of the economic and political forces, control of geopolitical strategic interests and control of the media. The national TV stations now speak with a single voice. […] Putin has promoted a climate of pumped-up national pride that encourages the persecution of dissidents and freethinkers and fosters a level of impunity that is steadily undermining the rule of law,” the authors say justifying the inclusion of Russia’s former president and incumbent prime minister in the list of “predators”.

In the past, documents of this kind used to be either ignored or denounced. This time, Moscow’s official reaction was somewhat different. The Russian premier’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, speaking to the RIA Novosti news agency, described blacklisting V. Putin as a “very bad mistake” caused “either by deep-rooted stereotypes in world people’s attitude to anything related to Russia, or else by lack of adequate information about this country’s performance. Over the past decade, Vladimir Putin has done quite a lot to make the Russian media more independent economically and, consequently, freer.”

Evidently, the press secretary referred to his boss’ orders that the show of national soccer championship matches be resumed on federal TV…


1. Republic of Dagestan. Media holding head killed

Shamil Aliyev, the founder and head-manager of the Priboi and Vatan radio stations and director of the TNT-Makhachkala television network, has been shot and killed in broad daylight in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala. His car came under submachine-gun fire opened by unidentified persons who quickly disappeared from the scene of the crime leaving Aliyev and his bodyguard Saidmagomed Ubaidullayev killed and driver Ramazan Magomedov wounded. The plan to intercept the attackers yielded zero results.

The police instituted criminal proceedings under Article 105 (“Homicide involving the use of firearms”) and Article 222 (“Unlawful keeping and carrying of firearms”) of the RF Penal Code, the RIA-Dagestan news agency has reported with reference to the press service of the Investigating Committee under the republican prosecutor’s office.

So far, two versions have been advanced: S. Aliyev may have been killed either in connection with his business activities or as a staunch opponent of Wahhabism. According to Kommersant Daily, Aliyev was a follower of “traditional” Islam and his radio and TV broadcasts were anti-Wahhabist in their tonality. Specifically, TNT showed a documentary, “Wahhabism Pure and Simple”, one of whose authors, Abdullah Alishayev, was, too, shot and killed in a Makhachkala suburb on September 2, 2008 (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/73#top ). The killers were never found.

2. Moscow. Two TV channels quarrel over show of interview with Marshal Zhukov

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Channel One and Kultura Channel have each shown a televised interview that was granted by Marshal Georgy Zhukov to the writer Konstantin Simonov in 1966. The interview was banned for showing on TV in Soviet times but some of its sequences were included in the documentary “If You Love Your Home Dearly” timed for the 25th anniversary of the 1941 battle of Moscow. The film, too, lay shelved for many years, and not a single TV network showed it during this year’s Victory Day celebrations, either.

Fortunately, the interview’s recording has been saved from destruction – owing much to the efforts of [prominent TV broadcaster] Vladimir Posner’s father, then director of the Experimental Creative Studios under the MosFilm movie company, the documentary’s producer. On May 4 this year, Zhukov’s interview was finally shown as part of Channel One’s “Posner” show, triggering protests from the state TV/radio company VGTRK which turned out to have purchased all the rights with regard to that interview and was planning to show it on Kultura Channel on May 9 in a special program dedicated to Victory Day.

Initially, VGTRK threatened to sue Channel One and Posner but then thought better of it. Vladimir Posner has told Radio Liberty he knew nothing about Kultura’s plans. “If I had known, I would have just asked them to say a couple of words of acknowledgement to my late father before the show,” he said.

Anyway, the long-shelved archival material was shown at different times by a whole two federal television channels – an outcome definitely benefiting the viewers. It would have been still better if the two TV networks had refrained from quarrelling on the eve of Victory Day.


TV channel censored

Newsroom (TSN) journalists of the Ukrainian television channel “1+1” have complained their management has been practicing censorship.

“We have been told certain themes and events are taboo. Stories criticizing the incumbent government have been edited out,” says an open letter made public in Kiev May 6. According to the authors, final decisions on whether or not a story will go on the air are made not by the news service editor-in-chief but by the general director of “1+1”. The journalists say the last straw was the news roundup of May 2 which was rendered actually meaningless by the censors. “We do not want to perform as hired propagandists. To us, freedom of expression is not an empty phrase but a pillar of the journalistic profession. That is why we deem any encroachment upon freedom of expression absolutely unacceptable,” the letter says.

As a measure to resist excessive control, the TSN staffers announced their readiness to hold a preventive strike and keep reporting on whatever censorship attempts may be made in the future. “We are demanding an immediate end to the shameful practice of TSN management by means of ‘directives’, ‘binding recommendations’ or bans on certain themes. We urge the management to return to the cornerstone principles of journalism – truthful and unbiased coverage and equidistance from all political groups,” the open letter says. The authors stress the point that their personal political preferences have not affected the TV channel’s operation in any way: “We are not supporters, sympathizers or admirers of the opposition; we are convinced that each side should be given equal chances to bring its views and opinions home to the viewer.”

The document calls on all Ukrainian journalists to support the TSN position. “We are aware we are not the sole victims of censorship, and we know all too well how difficult it is to make the first step,” the authors say adding that unless they unite now, the journalists will risk losing not only their profession but also the country as a whole. “Let us show that we – those who treasure real, not imitated, freedom of expression – are numerous and strong. Let us pool our efforts and start acting – now,” the open letter says.


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

Attacks on journalists – 7 (Pavel Budnikov, journalist, State TV/Radio Company “Kaliningrad”, Kaliningrad; Stanislav Bernvald, reporter, REN TV channel, Moscow; Igor Dorokhov, deputy editor-in-chief, newspaper Otkrytaya Gazeta, Pyatigorsk, Stavropol Region; Elena Knyazhskaya, editor, newspaper Extra Chance, and Yuri Manov, former editor, newspaper Vechernyaya Ryazan, both from Ryazan; Arkady Lander, editor-in-chief, newspaper Mestnaya, Krasnodar Region; Ilya Vasyunin, reporter, Dozhd TV channel, Moscow).

Instances of censorship – 4 (newspaper Voronezhsky Courier, Voronezh; newspaper Tarskoye Priirtyshye, Omsk Region; newspaper Vecherny Murmansk, Murmansk; newspaper Golos Vremeni, Dagestan).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 4 (Sergey Mylov, editor, newspaper Obshchestvo I Vlast-Chas Pik, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky; Yekaterina Lazareva, URA.ru correspondent, Kurgan; Vladimir Yefimov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Vechernyaya Tyumen, Tyumen; Irina Sukhorukova, editor-in-chief, newspaper Vladimirsky Rubezh, Vladimir).

Illegal sacking of editor or journalist – 6 (Dmitry Dyakov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Voronezgsky Courier, Voronezh; Lydia Rtishcheva, editor-in-chiif, newspaper Molot, Rostov-on-Don, sacked in 2009; Rayil Musin, director/editor, newspaper Sharanskiye Prostory, Bashkortostan; Musavir Kamaletdinov, editor, newspaper Tuimazinsky Vestnik, Bashkortostan; Farit Akhmadiyev, director/editor, Vatandash magazine, Bashkortostan; Ulyana Akayeva, editor, newspaper Golos Vremeni, Dagestan).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 7 (Yulia Polukhina and Anna Artemyeva, Novaya Gazeta reporters, Moscow; Alexander Podrabinek, correspondent, Radio France International, Moscow; Sergey Mylov, editor, newspaper Obshchestvo I Vlast-Chas Pik, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky; Irina Sukhorukova, editor-in-chief, newspaper Vladimirsky Rubezh, Vladimir; Elena Knyazhskaya, editor, newspaper Extra Chance, and Yuri Manov, former editor, newspaper Vechernyaya Ryazan, both from Ryazan).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 26, worth a total of RUR 11,460,001. 

Earlier claims against journalists and media, considered – 19, satisfied – 8, total amount of moral damage compensation charged – RUR 500,000.

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.) – 24.

Threats against journalists and media – 1 (Natalia Chervyakova, editor-in-chief, newspaper Vecherny Murmansk, Murmansk).

Refusal to print or distribute media – 3 (newspaper Moi Gorod Bez Tsenzury, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District; newspaper Literatirnaya Rossiya, Irkutsk; newspaper Uznai Pravdu, Yaroslavl Region).

Disruption of TV or radio broadcasts – 1 (television/radio company BAS TV, Kaliningrad Region).

Closure of media outlets – 2 (OTV-Novosti news show, Rostov Region; newspaper Za Cheloveka, Perm Region).

Confiscation, purchase or arrest of print run – 1 (newspaper Voronezhsky Courier, Voronezh).

Release of duplicate (i.e., rival) newspapers – 1 (newspaper Nikolskoye Koltso, Smolensk).

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

Administrative pressure (sudden inspections by sanitary, fire, tax or other services) – 2 (Alexander Popov, editor-in-chief, district newspaper Rodnoye Pridonye, Voronezh Region; several media outlets in Tula).

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 23.

Last week, the Glasnost Defense Foundation was referred to at least 20 times in the Internet, including at:



2010 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” continues

The Jury continues accepting works submitted for the 2010 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”. The submission deadline is November 1.

The Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” is conferred on Russian journalists for publications reflecting the authors’ active life stands consistently translated into their highly professional work, and for defending the values which Dr. Andrei D. Sakharov used to defend during his lifetime.

The materials submitted for the competition should have been published between October 15, 2009 and October 15, 2010 in Russian newspapers, magazines or almanacs, or posted on web portals registered as media outlets. Candidates for the award may be nominated by both editorial boards and individual Russian citizens.

All materials must be submitted in print or electronic format (on diskettes or CDs, or as e-mail messages sent to fond@gdf.ru or boris@gdf.ru). Print versions shall be mailed to: Glasnost Defense Foundation, 4, Zubovsky Boulevard, Office 432, 119992, Moscow, Russia, with a note: “Andrei Sakharov Competition ‘Journalism as an Act of Conscience’”.

For further details about the contest, please see http://www.gdf.ru/lenta/item/1/699

Contact phone: (+7 495) 637 4947.


Dear Mr. Simonov:

This is an appeal for help from the relatives of Ernest Vardanyan, a 29-year-old Armenian journalist and political scientist arrested in the Trans-Dniester Moldovan Republic.

E. Vardanyan has lived in Transdniestria for the past 20 years. A professional journalist, he has won considerable international recognition, was recently put on the U.N. list of reserve employees, and awaited appointment to the Russian Service at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

For some unclear reasons, he was arrested by Transdniestrian secret services on April 7, 2010, and placed in detention on trumped-up “high treason” charges.

We believe that E. Vardanyan’s arrest accompanied by furtive investigation and the holding of a Transdniestria Supreme Court sitting in the absence of the accused and his defense lawyers signals a flagrant violation of human rights. Neglecting all international norms and the presumption of innocence, the Transdniestrian authorities denied Vardanyan the opportunity to independently select a defense lawyer or meet with his family. The charges advanced against the young journalist are groundless and unfair, because a freelance reporter could never possibly have access to any classified information the disclosure of which might give rise to high treason charges. It seems likely the case has some political underpinnings.

Fearing criticism and freedom of expression, Transdniestria’s government agencies prefer to conduct the investigation covertly, as far away as possible from the focus of international public attention.

E. Vardanyan has a 6-year-old son and a 9-month-old daughter to care for. In violation of his children’s rights, the officials searching Vardanyan’s apartment confiscated all his savings money leaving the family with nothing to live on.

We, the relatives of Ernest Vardanyan, are concerned over his living conditions in detention. According to our information, the authorities have subjected him to coercive measures, blackmail, violence and the use of psychotropic substances suppressing his will in a bid to have him sign a confession.

Mr. Simonov, knowing that you have always worked in defense of human rights and freedoms in line with the principles of humanism and justice, we hereby appeal to you to personally interfere to have the preventive measure against E. Vardanyan changed to secure his earliest possible release from detention.

We believe your high personal reputation will impact the investigation process positively and help the unfairly accused journalist get out of the Transdniestrian prison where he is currently kept.

On behalf of the family, Lilit Agekyan,
City of Gyumri, Republic of Armenia

The Glasnost Defense Foundation is preparing an official appeal to the Transdniestrian Republic’s law enforcement agencies over the matter.

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.
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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