Дайджест
21 Мая 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 478




EVENT OF THE WEEK
Mediterranean journalists hold conference in Cagliari

RUSSIA
1. Republic of Dagestan. Another TV company head killed
2. St. Petersburg. Journalist attacked
3. Kurgan. Reporter charged with libel: Does ex-mayor attempt to take revenge?
4. Vladimir. Yet another journalist detained for “extortion”
5. Altai Republic. Newspaper editor persecuted for criticism
6. Krasnodar. TV show editor detained by police
7. Perm Region. District officials files legal claims against two media outlets, loses both

AZERBAIJAN/ ARMENIA/ NAGORNY KARABAKH
Stepanakert Media Club president urges journalists to stop “media wars”

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
New Glasnost Map presented

OUR PARTNERS

1. CPJ urges Transdniester authorities to release arrested journalist
2. Perm branch of RF Journalists’ Union launches new web portal

DIGEST MAIL
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EVENT OF THE WEEK

Mediterranean journalists hold conference in Cagliari

By Dmitry Florin,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

The international conference “Safety, Diversity and Dialogue: Building Trust in Mediterranean Journalism” held in Cagliari, Italy, on May 7-10 brought together over 100 journalists from different countries, among them GDF correspondent D. Florin, who is also a reporter for the Caucasian Knot news agency, for seminars and debates on freedom of expression and reporting on media-related conflicts. The agenda included the discussion of media performance in connection with the Russo-Georgian standoff.

This is the 10th such conference co-sponsored by the National Association of the Italian Press (FNSI), the Mediterranean Journalists’ Group, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Sardinian Press Agency with assistance from Sardinian authorities.

Pre-opening infos said the meeting would focus on the lessons of the Gaza conflict that has much in common with the Russia-Georgia conflict of August 2008 which took the lives of three reporters.

The word “occupation” heard from the representatives of Cyprus and Palestine pushed up tensions in the audience several times. IFJ president Aidan White repeatedly urged journalists from conflict-stricken countries to calm down and try looking for mutual understanding. “Being in conflict is easy. It is much more difficult to find paths leading to peace and cooperation. That’s what we are here for,” he said addressing the Palestinian representative who had said a few sharp words about Israel in his report.

When discussing those conflicts unofficially, journalists agreed that Israelis and Palestinians should have been invited to sit down privately and just try striking a person-to-person dialogue. In public, the Palestinians naturally support their country’s official standpoint; in the presence of witnesses and cameras they may simply be prohibited to behave differently – they will have to return home and live there, after all...
 
The conference was attended by representatives of ex-Soviet countries – Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Initially, as we were getting acquainted with the Georgian colleagues, we kept glancing at one another with apprehension. But then the atmosphere grew lighter, and we sat down to lunch together asking, “These must be the Soviet bloc’s tables, right?” There were no conflicts or misunderstanding. We exchanged cards, shared our impressions and told each other about the situation in our home countries. Unlike the delegates of Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, who occasionally had some frictions, journalists from the former USSR – even those whose countries are in conflict – remained quiet and friendly.

According to Daniel Laci of Moldova, since the communists stepped down from the helm, his country has made giant strides in promoting freedom of expression. Andrei Tsapliyenko of Inter TV, Ukraine, who was shooting a TV report with a Russian colleague’s assistance, said that despite the change of the president and government in his country, he was sure the journalists and ordinary people would not allow the authorities to put pressure on the media.

Journalists Boris Nasvardian of Armenia and Azer Hasret of Azerbaijan had had a quiet discussion before I raised the issue of Nagorny Karabakh, triggering a heated argument between them. I was beginning to wish I had never interfered when they settled the matter between themselves by simply agreeing to drop it at that – until later. Maybe they are not yet ripe to discuss Nagorny Karabakh. Maybe it is too early for Russia and Georgia to start discussing August 2008. Maybe any discussion of the Transdniester Republic among Russia, Ukraine and Moldova is premature.

But we are together – talking, not looking at each other through a rifle’s back sight. The conference in Cagliari brought a bit closer the time when we will find out there are no more topics between us that had better be “dropped until later”.
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RUSSIA

1. Republic of Dagestan. Another TV company head killed

Only a week after we reported the killing of Shamil Aliyev, the founder and head-manager of the radio stations Priboi and Vatan and director of the television network TNT-Makhachkala, whose car came under fire from unidentified attackers who fled the scene of the crime (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/734#rus1 ), a May 13th report from the Sergokalinsky district of Dagestan said that Sayid Ibragimov, director of the local television channel TBS, died on his way to restore a TV re-transmitter damaged by militants’ fire one day earlier. Near the village of Ayazi, his Niva car carrying a team of repairmen and the accompanying police jeep were ambushed by gunmen who set off a bomb in front of the vehicles and then opened fire on them, killing five men, among them Ibragimov, and wounding four others.

According to Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigating Committee under the prosecutor’s office, five persons died in the bomb explosion and three patrol policemen who guarded the repairmen were injured. The police instituted legal proceedings under Articles 105, 317, and 222 of the RF Criminal Code on charges of homicide, an attempt on the lives of law enforcement officers, and the illegal turnover of firearms and ammunition.

2. St. Petersburg. Journalist attacked

By Roman Zakharov,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

Journalist Pavel Netupsky of the web newspaper Fontanka.ru has been attacked in St. Petersburg. As he was returning home at about 5:30 p.m. May 13, an unknown man gave Pavel a heavy blow on the head. Fortunately, a neighbor appeared scaring off the attacker who instantly disappeared together with an accomplice who had stood waiting for him outside.

Considering the repeated threats P. Netupsky had been receiving in connection with his publications, it looks like a preplanned crime directly linked to the journalist’s professional activities. The police are deciding whether to institute criminal proceedings. This is already the third such attack on P. Netupsky. After the first two, which too were apparently preordered crimes, the law enforcers failed to track down the perpetrators. Owing to the GDF’s interference, the prosecutor’s office repeatedly canceled orders on the termination of investigation and returned the cases for additional study.

3. Kurgan. Reporter charged with libel: Does ex-mayor attempt to take revenge?

By Irina Gundareva,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

A justice of the peace in Kurgan has continued hearings of the case of journalist Yekaterina Lazareva of the URA.ru news agency whom the Investigating Department under the regional prosecutor’s office has accused of libel under Article 129 of the RF Criminal Code.

The criminal charges were brought against her after former Mayor Anatoly Yelchaninov claimed offended by a publication posted on the websites Kurgan.ru and Kompromat.ru that sharply criticized him for his alleged embezzlement of budgetary funds and other malpractices.

According to the author, the said text was a compilation of excerpts from different publications she had posted on the URA.ru website, in which numerous real quotes were mixed with someone else’s rude comments on the mayor’s appearance, as well as with insulting statements about Russia’s leaders and criticism of fellow journalists from other media.

“The former Kurgan mayor, Anatoly Yelchaninov, has repeatedly come under criticism from the newspapers Meridian, Moskovsky Komsomolets, the websites Kurgan.ru, UralPolit.ru, and even the satirical TV journal Fitil,” Y. Lazareva said. “But the underlying facts were never checked by the investigators or added to the criminal case files, or submitted to the experts for in-depth analysis.”

According to Lazareva, she never uses assumed names and signs all her publications by her real name.

“Neither Yekaterina nor I have ever published any insulting statements on our website,” – URA.ru editor Aksana Panova said. “Lying behind this scandal is either an unfortunate mistake or else malicious distortion of her texts by some third parties.”

The regional branch of the RF Journalists’ Union has expressed support for Y. Lazareva, and Sergey Lisovsky, a member of the Federation Council, stood up for her describing her as a good professional and an intelligent journalist never stooping to yellow-press methods of work. Yet the hearings are continuing, with experts supposed to either confirm or disprove Lazareva’s authorship appearing in the courtroom only from time to time, which means the proceedings may be dragged out indefinitely.

4. Vladimir. Yet another journalist detained for “extortion”

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

In Vladimir on May 11, the police detained Alexei Salov, editor of the local supplement to the weekly Argumenty Nedeli, for a suspected extortion attempt.

The journalist was summoned to the city police department against economic crime for questioning in connection with a complaint filed by Grigory Anikeyev, a local businessman and member of the State Duma’s United Russia party, according to the Kasparov.ru news agency. After a brief phone call to the office of the public and political web portal Vybor 33 shortly after midnight, nothing more was heard from the journalist whose cell phone remained in the switched-off mode. Oleg Kurochkin, spokesman for the regional police, confirmed to Komsomolskaya Pravda the fact of Salov’s detention: “He was detained on suspicion of extortion. The investigators say he demanded RUR 100,000 from G. Anikeyev for not publishing some allegedly compromising information.”

Vybor 33 editor Alexei Shlyapuzhnikov has told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that Salov earlier worked for the TVC-Vladimir television network owned by Anikeyev. “They had a conflict and parted pretty coldly,” Shlyapuzhnikov said, also telling the GDF correspondent that two days later A. Salov was released from detention with no charges advanced against him.

It may as well be noted that Alexei Salov is among the candidates for the regional Public Chamber which is currently being formed in Vladimir.

5. Altai Republic. Newspaper editor persecuted for criticism

The office of the weekly Listok issued in the city of Gorno-Altaisk, Altai Republic, and the home apartment of its founder and editor Sergey Mikhailov have been searched by the police, with all the computers and other information carriers confiscated, actually freezing the publishing process.

Colleagues maintain the searches are connected with a placard reading that Sergey Tevonyan, an ethnic Armenian who is the first vice-premier of the Altai Republic, is “ill-placed” in the administration. Asked to comment on the photo pictures featuring him holding the scandalous placard during the February 21 opposition rally in Gorno-Altaisk, Mikhailov called it “a coincidence”; he said he feels no hostility towards the Armenians and only agreed to hold the placard while the woman who had brought it was speaking from the rostrum.

As it recently turned out, the searches were made in connection with the legal proceedings instituted on May 7 under Article 282.1 of the RF Criminal Code (“Organization of an extremist group”). While no official charges have been brought against anyone so far, the said placard is deemed to be the core reason for the law enforcers’ increased activity.

That is not the sole criminal case opened against Mikhailov. Another one was launched May 11 under Article 130.2 of the Criminal Code in the wake of a complaint filed by Alexander Berdnikov, head of the Altai administration, on charges of insult. In Berdnikov’s view (confirmed by a linguistic expert’s opinion), Mikhailov’s article “Further on Vipers’ Nests” published a year ago contained a number of “rude and disparaging” phrases. The reference is to the author’s description of the Berdnikov administration as “a government of corrupt poachers” and “a viper nest” – a reaction to the republican leader’s own public comment on his decision to close one of the city’s markets: “It is time to destroy this nest of vipers!” Mikhailov’s article was published at the initiative of traders of that market which had already been torn down by the time. The traders were hurt to hear their workplace publicly labeled “vipers’ nest” by the highest-ranking Altai official.

The Listok staffers told the GDF correspondent: “We see those developments as a clear attempt by the republic’s government to put pressure on an independent newspaper and intimidate the opposition deputy Sergey Mikhailov – and maybe other opposition activists, too.” The journalists did not rule out that one other reason for the hasty searches might have been the administrators’ desire to confiscate photo pictures featuring the construction of a highway to what has been commonly referred to as “Putin’s estate”: “We recklessly said in one of our publications that we had over 200 such photos at our disposal.”

6. Krasnodar. TV show editor detained by police

By Dmitry Florin,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

When a group of deceived shareholders blocked off a highway in downtown Krasnodar May 16, Vyacheslav Potapov, editor-in-chief of the TV news show Sovetskaya Kuban, personally went to shoot some video sequences of the protest action since he was reluctant to assign additional work to his staffers on a Sunday morning. The editor says the protest action proceeded peacefully: people carrying placards kept crossing the highway back and forth at a pedestrian crossing without stopping, although some traffic jams did occur as a result. Unable to obtain the city administration’s official permission for holding pickets, the protesters saw that as the only way to draw public attention to their problems.

Toward the end of the protest, the chief of the regional Public Security Ministry arrived ordering the people to disperse. He walked up to Potapov and told him to switch off his camera. The journalist did not obey because the police had just started detaining protesters. He was then pushed down to the ground, his hands wrung behind his back, and pulled towards a police vehicle. His video camera was taken away.

Potapov was driven to the Kalininsky District police headquarters where he spent the following two hours with no explanations provided and with not a single police officer identifying himself. Then an investigator arrived to question the journalist, make a protocol and go away. After a total of three hours at the police station, Potapov was released with no one able to tell him where his camera was.

On the following day he called the police press service on the phone to find out his camera was being held by the district police chief who was ready to return it. Finally, Potapov was given back the camera and tripod, but not the recorded cassette. A police officer went as far as reproaching the journalist for “throwing his video apparatus around unwatched in the street”.

Vyacheslav Potapov is preparing a complaint to the law enforcement bodies in connection with his unlawful detention and the confiscation of his video cassette.

7. Perm Region. District officials files legal claims against two media outlets, loses both

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

Earlier this year Mikhail Trutnev, head of the Land Relations Department of the Dobryansky District administration, filed legal claims against the local newspaper Zori Plus and the TV adio company Ural-Inform TV in connection with their “insulting” reports for which he charged them RUR 19,101 and RUR 39,202, respectively, in moral damage compensation.

The story published by A. Vizhovitov of the privately-owned newspaper Zori Plus described the burdensome process of land registration in the district: “With the department head receiving visitors only twice a week, he organized the work so as to keep people waiting as long as possible in the line to receive their registration certificates.” Finding nothing insulting about that publication, the Dobryansky District court turned Trutnev’s legal claim down.

His claim against Ural-Inform TV was considered by the Motovilikhinsky District court of Perm. The underlying TV story was about “a road stolen at Dobryanka” – about Trutnev’s decision to have a land plot sold to a private owner together with a stretch of road leading to the gardening cooperative Rassvet 3. The plaintiff was indignant at the author’s comment on the bureaucrats’ refusal to provide explanations. That claim was likewise rejected by the court.

Dissatisfied with both court decisions, M. Trutnev (who has now retired as the Land Relations Department head) challenged those before the higher-standing regional court which, quite appropriately, left his appeals unsatisfied.
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AZERBAIJAN/ ARMENIA/ NAGORNY KARABAKH


Stepanakert Media Club president urges journalists to stop “media wars”

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Gegam Bagdasaryan, president of the Press Club of Stepanakert, Armenia, has urged media publishers and the heads of journalistic associations in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh “to end all ‘hostilities’ in the media area as of midnight, May 12, 2010”. It was on that day and at that time that the parties involved in the conflict over Nagorny Karabakh declared a ceasefire in 1994.

In his appeal to fellow journalists Bagdasaryan drew attention, among other things, to the growing regional tensions and the journalists’ involvement in “media wars, a kind of preparatory bombardment that willy-nilly leads to the use of force fraught with catastrophic consequences for the entire South Caucasian region”.

Calling on the media communities of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh to agree on a ceasefire, Bagdasaryan explained: “This means, in the first place, we should refrain from publishing materials disparaging the honor and dignity of entire nations and their individual representatives, or those fanning interethnic strife and propagating warfare.”
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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

New Glasnost Map presented

An updated edition of the GDF Glasnost Map has been presented during an online conference held at the Regional Press Institute in St. Petersburg.

GDF President Alexei Simonov, speaking via an online link with Moscow, described the goals and objectives of the project drawing special attention to the so-called “areas of silence” – the regions where no media-related conflicts are deemed to occur just because of zero information coming in from those areas.

In his skype-facilitated address to the conference Boris Timoshenko, head of the GDF Monitoring Service, described the methods employed in compiling the Glasnost Map, stressing that besides reflecting the current situation the project makes it possible to compare statistics gathered over the years.

Roman Zakharov, GDF correspondent in the North-Western Federal District, pointed to the large-scale discussion unfolding in the region over the relevance of the conclusions drawn by the Glasnost Defense Foundation. As is known, Vladimir Ugryumov, head of the Leningrad Region’s Media and Public Relations Committee, has publicly questioned the GDF’s listing of St. Petersburg among the regions where the press is not free. Zakharov said he was puzzled by the change in the views of V. Ugryumov who, as head of the regional branch of the RF Journalists’ Union, had never hesitated to speak his mind about the ruling elite’s poor performance – although that had been at a time when the media enjoyed much greater freedom… Nevertheless, the journalist welcomed the very fact of such an open discussion going on in the media community. GDF’s Alexei Simonov shared his colleague’s assessments by citing a number of analytical publications on the Lenizdat.ru web portal fully confirming the Foundation’s conclusions. He also reminded the audience that one of the Glasnost Map editions had been compiled based not only on the GDF’s own data but also on assessments made by a number of regional journalistic organizations, and that both parties’ judgments had generally been the same. Meanwhile, work has continued on improving the instruments of press freedom evaluation in different regions across the Russian Federation. A meeting of experts held in April decided to adjust the set of criteria used in drawing up the GDF Glasnost Map (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/top ).

In the course of the conference GDF representatives answered questions from journalists and public activists. Summing up the results of the event co-sponsored by a partner organization, the Regional Press Institute, A. Simonov said his Foundation would continue to rely on online facilities for holding this kind of conferences in different Russian regions.

***

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

http://info.ifex.org/View.aspx?id=204515&q=206718643&qz=52e79b
http://www.47news.ru/2010/05/12/020/
http://echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/678171-echo/
http://finam.fm/news/56587/
http://www.media-day.ru/opinion/imho/3133/
http://voskresensk-rayon.ru/content/view/3918/109/
http://www.mk.ru/regions/tula/article/2010/05/14/488117-vozbuzhdenie-ot-naznacheniya.html
http://www.regnum.ru/news/1283633.html
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OUR PARTNERS

1. CPJ urges Transdniester authorities to release arrested journalist

In New York May 12, the Committee to Protect Journalists made the following statement in response to a claim by the government of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Moldovan Republic about freelance reporter Ernest Vardanian, who has been kept in detention on trumped-up high treason charges since April 7, having allegedly admitted his guilt:

“We are deeply concerned about the well-being of our colleague Ernest Vardanian and call on Transdniester authorities to free him at once,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “The farcical footage aired on the local state television proves nothing else but the pressure to which this journalist has been subjected for over a month now. We call on Moldovan authorities and the international community to step up their efforts towards Vardanian’s release.”

2. Perm branch of RF Journalists’ Union launches new web portal

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

A new web portal launched in the Perm Region, RAIONKA.PERM.RU, has united the news resources of 28 municipal and district newspapers. The organizers are planning to increase the number of participants by the year’s end to 90-100, including nearly 20 local TV networks and some corporate newspapers.

The project initiator, the regional branch of the RF Journalists’ Union, maintains that the four existing professional mastery clubs and the system of journalistic festivals (the 13th is to open in a few days) and competitions have all logically contributed to the development of new independent news systems. A total of 600-700 reporters for local print and online media will contribute information to the new united web portal, describing regional developments in their full diversity.

Of course, many regional media have long operated websites of their own – as the ongoing journalistic contest shows, very good ones. But clearly, a united web portal opens up far broader opportunities.
 
The costs of the new portal’s establishment and maintenance will be borne collectively by the media outlets and the regional journalists’ union.
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DIGEST MAIL

Dear Mr. Simonov:

Irritated by my critical publications and seeking to tear away the pen from my hand, the border service command canceled my position of the North Caucasus special correspondent for the newspaper Granitsa Rossii (Russia’s Frontier) 4 years ago but, unable to provide me with civilian housing (due to any retired army officer), they let me stay in the active service guarding the border troops’ food depots. Yet I have continued publishing critical stories in regional newspapers and the Internet.

In the wake of my publication “The FSB Devils”, my nominal commander Col. A. Garakoyev, relying on his administrative resources and legal advisers, filed a legal claim in defense of his honor and reputation, accusing me of a serious criminal offense (extremism) in connection with my calling him “a blockhead”.

I had to request the Glasnost Defense Foundation’s legal assistance. Owing to your lawyers’ efforts, Garakoyev’s claim was turned down, which decision was later confirmed by a court of appeals.

Many thanks for your organization’s interference – actually, they helped me defend against an attack not by Col. Garakoyev in person but by all the negative elements preventing the border guards from duly serving their country. The honest officers followed the proceedings closely, thinking to themselves bitterly: “Is this evil really unconquerable?”

My winning the case in court showed it is not, and that we must pool efforts to defeat it.

But that requires assistance from such an organization as yours.

Sincerely,

Lt.-Col. P. Ilyushkin,
member of the RF Journalists’ Union and winner of the A. Borovik and Vopreki (Despite) Competition awards.

City of Stavropol, May 16, 2010
____________________________________________________________________________

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
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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