Дайджест
21 Апреля 2011 года

Glasnost Defence Foundation Digest No. 520

April 18, 2011

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Markelov-Baburova murder trial news

The Moscow City Court has continued hearings of the murder case of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.

Nikita Tikhonov, the alleged killer, told the court on April 11 where he had obtained the murder weapon, a Browning. Previously, he had claimed it had been brought “by a friend”; now he identified the source as Ilya Goryachev, leader of the Russian Image organisation – one of the major witnesses for the prosecution who has not, however, attended the hearings because of hiding abroad for security reasons. According to Tikhonov, Goryachev gave him the pistol asking to mend it several months after Markelov and Baburova were killed. The accused stressed he does not believe Goryachev might be the killer, since “murder is against his principles,” the RIA Novosti news agency cited him as saying.

The court then proceeded to question Yevgenia Khasis, who is charged with complicity in the murder. She said Tikhonov had been compelled to trade in firearms because of poverty. Khasis admitted she had held the Browning “just once – and even that spoiled my manicure”. She pleaded not guilty and said Tikhonov had been “set up by the investigators”. Also, she confirmed witness Baranovsky’s statement that they had been together on the day of the crime buying vintage champagne for his birthday. Asked why she had kept silent about her alibi so long, Khasis said she was afraid of coming under pressure from the investigators.

During the April 12 hearing, Tikhonov said he would be ready to join a guerrilla unit in the event of an external threat to Russia – and that was particularly what he meant telling Khasis he might become “a militant”. Khasis herself declined to answer jurors’ questions.

Judge Aleksandr Zamashnyuk then read out Goryachev’s statement about his “having been pressured” by Tikhonov. As we have reported, during preliminary investigation Goryachev first said that the murder had been committed by Tikhonov and Khasis and then sent in a letter in which he refuted his prior testimony. Now he asked the court to consider that letter null and void, and confirmed his old testimony as true. The judge stressed the point that the refutation letter was dated August 27, 2010 and the latest statement January 11, 2011.

Goryachev is claiming Tikhonov made him go back on his prior testimony by citing “pressure from the FSB” as the pretext.

During the April 14 hearing, the investigators played a video recording of Goryachev’s interrogation during which he said Tikhonov and Khasis had threatened to kill him because of their differences as to nationalist tactics. “They said they’d have to liquidate me the way they’d done with Markelov and Baburova,” Goryachev said, adding that each of the accused had told him on separate occasions about their involvement in the killing. “They plotted and executed the crime together, with Khasis keeping a lookout and Tikhonov firing the shots,” the witness said. He referred to other acquaintances of the accused who, too, he said, “know for certain it was Tikhonov who killed Markelov,” Polit.ru reported.

Meanwhile, Tikhonov asked the court to disregard the testimony he had given in the presence of his first defence lawyer, Yevgeny Skripilev, because “that man talked me into self-incrimination by confessing to the murder” in exchange for Khasis’ release. Finding out the lawyer had deceived him, he refuted his own testimony, Tikhonov explained. The victims’ lawyer Roman Karpinsky, in his turn, noted that Tikhonov had confessed to the crime repeatedly, including in the presence of defence lawyer Zhuchkov, who is still representing Tikhonov’s interests in court. Moreover, in the course of investigation Tikhonov had more than once given written testimony adding details to his prior confessions, Karpinsky said, calling the court’s attention to the fact that none of the current defence lawyers has complained to the Chamber of Barristers about Skripilev’s allegedly “wrongful” behaviour. As a result, the court turned down the plea by Tikhonov’s lawyers to disregard the testimony he had given during preliminary investigation.

The hearings were interrupted by the jury foreman’s suddenly feeling unwell as the prosecutor was reading out the protocol of one of Tikhonov’s interrogations with details about his plotting and executing Markelov and Baburova’s murder. Judge Zamashnyuk asked everyone out, called an ambulance and declared the proceedings adjourned, Grani.ru reported.

 

RUSSIA

Tyumen Region. Reporters attacked

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

A crew of reporters for SurgutInterNovosti TV Company has been attacked, the company’s press service reported. While shooting a video report of the funeral of murdered businessman Grigory Moraru on April 13, a lady reporter and a cameraman were attacked by four unidentified men who seized and destroyed the video recording and escaped. The journalists reported to the police who are now compiling identikits of the attackers.

“We were recording the funeral service when two unknown men came up from behind to start pulling the cameraman by the arm,” TV reporter Yulia Doroshenko said. “Then three other young men joined in, pushing the cameraman on the ground and trying to seize the video cassette. They threatened otherwise to leave us without any equipment at all. Naturally, they broke the cassette and took away the film. We described the attackers in detail to the police who said they would start an investigation.”

G. Moraru was shot and killed by two unknown gunmen near his apartment block on April 11. The killers managed to escape. A visitor of the TV company’s website left a chat forum comment reading, “You have to think hard whom you are going to video record. Do you really think you’d be allowed to show the faces of underworld kings on TV?”

“Whom do you expect to do that for us?” staff member Yulia Timoshenko wrote in reply. “That’s our job and we are ready to take risks to do it well. Yes, journalists are often beaten, kidnapped and even killed – but we keep on working!”

 

Penza. Government officials frown at the press

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

The office of Business Club (BC) magazine in Penza was visited on April 11 by Yelena Stolyarova, deputy chair of the regional administration in charge of social policy. The visit came in the wake of the April 5th posting on the magazine’s website of a story entitled “The Bad Luck Sphere”, reprinted from the newspaper Trud, which criticised local authorities.

Stolyarova reproached the journalists for posting the critical story “in haste”, asked them to show Trud’s written consent to having its materials reprinted on the BC website, and urged the editor to remove the publication from the Internet.

“Her asking for an official authorisation from Trud was surprisingly irrelevant,” BC webmaster Pavel Arzamastsev commented. “As any other newspaper, Trud is interested in having its publications cited as widely and as extensively as possible. Considering Internet work specifics, and being a sober and sensible man, I would never even think of asking Trud’s written consent to having its article reprinted.”

Arzamastsev declined to take the story off the website – “for the simple reason that we see nothing wrong about its appearance on our site. But its disappearance would certainly strike many as a wrongful move that might entail negative consequences – in the first place, for Ms Stolyarova herself, if only because censors have never been in favour in this country.”

This conflict was not the first in Business Club’s relationships with local authorities. Editor Lyudmila Kolomytseva told the GDF correspondent that administration officials have more than once hinted to her at a variety of potential problems that her magazine might face in the event of failing to “maintain the right kind of contact” with those at the helm.

[Based on Business-penza.ru reports]

 

Republic of Komi. Newspaper denied printing services for criticism of authorities

The Ukhta printing house refused to print the April 11th issue of the Izhemsky District newspaper Veskyd Serni (Open Talk) because of “too much criticism of the ruling party” featured on its pages.

Staff member Nikolai Bratenkov told 7Х7.ru that this Komi-language opposition newspaper with a circulation of 3,000 has been released with sponsor assistance for over ten years now under the editorship of Andrei Istomin, an Honoured Cinema Operator of the USSR, now a pensioner. It has always drawn public attention to unresolved political, environmental and social problems. The newspaper is released once or twice a month, with almost all the reporters and distributors working as enthusiasts for no pay. The paper’s independent position has often annoyed the ruling elite at republican and local levels.

The latest issue of Veskyd Serni was to open with an editorial entitled “Bureaucrats, Big Business and Their Party Leave People with Zero Choice”, critically reviewing the results of the Komi Republic’s latest election campaign.

“We sent the issue’s makeup to the printing house in Ukhta, expecting it to be printed by the afternoon,” Bratenkov said. “But at noon I had a phone call from a girl secretary who told me they would not fulfil our printing order. Asked why, she said there was ‘too much politics and criticism of the ruling party’ in our stories, and they wouldn’t like to have problems with the authorities. I threatened to sue the printing firm, but the head manager said that would hardly make sense – they have no printing service contract with our newspaper.”

The Veskyd Serni management is looking for an alternative printing company to have the newspaper issue printed. Wasting time on litigation would be wrong because the content of the publications may get outdated.

[7Х7.ru report, April 12]

 

Perm Region. Journalist succeeds in defending copyright

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The city court in Berezniki has required the local branch of VSMPO-Avisma Co. to pay photo correspondent Viktor Brandman RUR 360,000 in compensation for the unauthorised use of his photo pictures.

Brandman is the Perm Region’s oldest photo correspondent – he marked his 75th birthday about a month ago. A reputed professional and winner of numerous journalistic competitions held at USSR, Russian Federation and regional levels, he continues contributing masterly photo pictures to different newspapers and magazines.

Seven years ago, he sold to the Avisma museum for a symbolic price a collection of pictures on the history of the former titanium-magnesium factory. Since then, Avisma has used many of his works to illustrate calendars, posters, books and brochures, without ever mentioning the author’s name. The photo journalist has repeatedly called the company’s press service to express concerns over those copyright violations, but all in vain.

The release of the book “Human Legend” dedicated to the 100th birth anniversary of the factory’s former director Klavdiy Tsirenshchikov, featuring Brandman’s 36 photo pictures with no reference to the author, was the last straw. Moreover, some of his pictures were signed by other persons’ names. Having thoroughly studied the copyright law and consulted with legal experts, Brandman decided to sue.

“It’s not monetary compensation that I am after in the first place,” he told the GDF correspondent over the phone. “I feel deeply insulted by their boorish attitude to my work.”

The Avisma managers are insisting they were not required to mention the author’s name – they had once paid for those photo pictures – and are preparing to challenge the ruling before the higher-standing regional court.

 

Rostov Region. Money saved on journalists

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Drastic increases in insurance payments into state extra-budgetary funds have caused many enterprises and firms to start fighting for survival. Newspapers and TV companies, too, might get panicky but for President Medvedev’s promise that the Russian media would pay into the Pension, Social Insurance and Compulsory Medical Insurance Funds at discounted rates, as fixed in amendments to Federal Law No. 339-FZ signed by the president back in December.

However, the government decision awarding those benefits was released only three months later, with full-scale how-to explanations reaching the grassroots in late March. From now on, the media wishing to pay insurance at a discount (26% instead of 34%) must submit to the regional departments of RosKomNadzor [the federal service overseeing the sphere of public communications] the documents proving that the provision of information services is their main line of economic activity. As a result, the media, which were entitled under the law to pay less beginning January 1, 2011, will only be able to exercise this right as of the second half of the year, provided they submit the required documents no later than May 15 for RosKomNadzor to list them as payers entitled to special benefits.

Why not register as such all the RosKomNadzor-controlled media right after the signing of the amendments into law? The respected controlling organization is supposed to know which newspapers are actually released and which radio and TV stations go on the air in real terms. Why gather those additional documents and waste time and energy? The answer is clear: to reduce the number of media outlets enjoying the benefits. Some may fail to submit the documents by the established deadline, others may never have heard anything about the benefits at all (in the first place, this refers to district and other small local newspapers whose staffs do not include a lawyer monitoring the latest changes to Russian legislation).

At the first stage, the bureaucrats already hit the target: six months of preferential insurance payments were lost. One of the Rostov-based publishing companies releasing many newspapers says the delay cost it an additional RUR 250,000.

Of the 500 media registered in the Rostov Region, half are commercial ad bulletins (not covered by the benefit programme), and of the other 250 outlets, only 83 have so far applied for the benefits. Only a fifth of all municipal and district newspapers and TV/radio companies have submitted their documents to RosKomNadzor.

 

Transbaikal Region. Five months without salary

By Marina Meteleva,
GDF staff correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The District Editors’ Assiciation of the Transbaikal Region held a conference as part of the programme of a seminar for municipal newspapers in the office of the newspaper Slava Trudu in the city of Krasnokamensk on April 14 to express solidarity with colleagues from the newspaper Zabaikalets (Zabaikalsky District) who are protesting against zero financing.

Speakers said few newspapers are in a better position today, each doing whatever is possible to survive. Of the 40 district newspapers issued in the region, 31 are municipal newspapers – most of them black and white, of A4 format, “of low technical and technological quality, and failing to meeting modern requirements as regards topicality, responsiveness, and content quality”, Valentina Spivachuk, head of the Information Support and Media Relations Division at the regional Press and Information Department, said. Those media outlets that have been fast enough to register as autonomous entities are waiting for the outcome of debates over amendments to the law requiring them to change their organisational and legal form. Municipal media are to decide before January 1, which form to choose – a budget-financed entity or a non-commercial autonomous organisation. The latter is preferable but implies lots of paperwork – both internally and at municipality level.

Association members emphasised their vital interest in having the regional administration preserve the district newspapers, a decision that may have its impact all the way down the power vertical. Meanwhile, as Zabaikalets’ sad experience shows, district authorities have not paid for months for the services provided by the newspaper.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Some statistics cited

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

 

OUR PARTNERS

Dean of school of journalism gets his Ph.D.

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

Boris Lozovsky, Dean of the School of Journalism at Urals State University and an old friend and consultant of the GDF, got his Ph.D. in Philology on April 12.

Colleagues and friends had insisted on his doing so for nearly 20 years, but he had always had too much other urgent work to do, although promising to return to his half-written thesis someday.

As head of the school from 1985 through 1990 and from November 1993 up until now, he has become – without any exaggeration – something of an idol and one of the most respected teachers for thousands of press, radio and TV journalists. Honouring the promises he had once given, Boris Lozovsky finally summed up and formalised his unique professional experience in a dissertation entitled “Technology of Manipulative Influence on the Media”. It took him over three hours to defend his thesis. The Urals University Scientific Council of 14 doctors of sciences unanimously declared Lozovsky’s work significant and innovative, noting that few people before him had attempted to “analyse the factors enabling social subjects to influence media content” or, for that matter, ever regarded the media as an object for manipulation.

Since the defence of the thesis was timed to the 75th anniversary of his school of journalism, Lozovsky received heartfelt congratulations not only from present-day students and professors but also from numerous alumni who gathered to celebrate the jubilee.

The GDF sends Dr Lozovsky its warmest greetings and hopes to see more exciting projects getting under way to fully reflect the brilliance of his creative personality!

 

Seminar for journalists and ethnic minority representatives held in Voronezh

A series of discussions were held in Voronezh on April 18 as part of the project “Ethnic Minority Interaction with the Press: Cooperation and Balance of Interests” to evaluate the degree of ethnic problem coverage in the regional media.

The first meeting involved media workers and representatives of different ethnic groups living in the Voronezh Region. The participants discussed cultural life coverage in local media, with special focus on the use for the purpose of new media resources, such as web publications, blogs, social networks, etc.

The second meeting, hosted by the School of Journalism of Voronezh State University, brought together students, professors and local journalists to discuss interethnic relations coverage in traditional and web-based media, as well as “hate speech” and the inadmissibility of attempts to fan interethnic differences.

The events were attended by a group of analysts, among the Grigory Shvedov, editor-in-chief of the Caucasian Knot news agency; Nadezhda Azhgikhina, Secretary of the RF Journalists’ Union; Galina Arapova, director and leading legal expert at the Media Rights Centre in Voronezh; as well as regional and local government officials and public activists.

 

DIGEST MAIL

Dear colleagues,

Browsing the web for information about journalists killed on duty, I came across the GDF Digest and found a chronicle of attacks on journalists.

This is to inform you that yet another such attack occurred here in Surgut yesterday. A local businessman had been murdered a few days earlier by a hired killer. As our reporter and a cameraman were shooting a report about the funeral service, four thugs came up and started to push the journalists around, demanding the video cassette. Our colleagues managed to retain the camera, although it was damaged. The attackers threatened “to bury” the reporters.

Maybe you’ll find this message important enough to be included in your crime chronicle.

Sincerely,
Yulia Timoshenko,
editor, SurgutInterNovosti TV/Radio Company

 

This Digest has been prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF),

 

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 organisation in the event of any Digest-sourced information or other materials being used.

Contacts: Glasnost Defence Foundation, 4, Zubovsky Boulevard, Office 432, 119992 Moscow, Russia.
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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