Дайджест
13 Мая 2011 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 523

May 10, 2011

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Markelov-Baburova murder trial sentence passed

The Moscow City Court has passed a sentence on the murder case of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.

On May 5, the court discussed the consequences of the jury verdict that found Nikita Tikhonov guilty of the double murder, and Yevgenia Khasis of complicity in Markelov’s killing.

The prosecution insisted on a life sentence for Tikhonov and on 20 years in a tight-security penal colony for Khasis. Prosecutor Boris Loktionov pointed to the special social gravity of the crime committed, and to the jury’s refusal to recommend the defendants for mercy, which position was supported by representatives of the victims.

Besides, A. Baburova’s parents claimed from Tikhonov RUR 5 m in moral damage compensation and RUR 40,000 to cover their expenses related to participation in the trial – a point challenged by the defence. “No documents have been presented to prove the depth and gravity of the moral suffering allegedly inflicted on Baburova’s family,” defence lawyer Aleksandr Vassilyev said. Tikhonov insisted he had killed no one; besides, he said would be unable to pay any compensation in view of his lengthy term of imprisonment and the absence of any personal property. Yet the court recognized the Baburovs as civil plaintiffs but delayed the claim’s consideration until after a sentence was passed.

The defence asked to disregard the guilty verdict because of “law violations committed in the course of the proceedings”. The defence lawyers insisted their clients are innocent; they suggested returning the case for review so that “an unquestionably fair verdict” could be obtained.

The defendants refused to make their last plea, claiming they “have nothing to say to this panel of jurors”.

On the following day, Judge Aleksandr Zamashnyuk announced the sentence: a life sentence for Tikhonov as the double killer, and 18 years in a conventional penal colony for Khasis as his accomplice in the murder of lawyer Markelov. The Baburov family’s civil claim was satisfied too, with RUR 40,000 awarded to them in reimbursement of judicial costs and RUR 2 m in moral damage compensation.

Roman Karpinsky, representative of the victims’ interests, said he was satisfied with the sentence. He noted that the defence had attempted, in violation of the law, to politicize the trial, “stirring up scandals and whipping up hysteria around the case”.

Sergey Sokolov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta (for which A. Baburova worked), described the sentence as fair and lawful. “Reading the case files, I understood that those people (Tikhonov and Khasis) might have done many still more dangerous things inflicting lots of suffering on others,” he said.

Aleksandr Cherkasov, a Board member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, too, called the verdict “well-deserved and fair”. He stressed that human rights activists had closely followed the proceedings, assessed the evidence very critically, and concluded that the two persons in the dock were the ones who were to be held liable for the killings. Speaking live on Radio Ekho Moskvy, he described the proofs of the defendants’ guilt as irrefutable and conclusive, “even though much additional evidence was left outside the scope of the court’s attention”.

Meanwhile, the defence has protested the convictive sentence to a higher-standing judicial authority, Radio Liberty reported.

 

RUSSIA

Republic of Dagestan. Journalist killed in Khasavyurt District

By Magomed Magomedov,
GDF staff correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Yakhya Magomedov, editor of the Avar-language version of the Islamic newspaper As-Salam* was killed in the village of Kokrek in the Khasavyurt District of Dagestan on the night of May 8.

The journalist was visiting his cousin at his home. As he went out of the house, unidentified persons opened fire on him, wounding him fatally. Criminal proceedings were opened under Article 105 (“Homicide”) and Article 222 (“Illegal turnover of weapons and ammunition”) of the RF Criminal Code, Alkhas Amirkhanov, senior assistance to the chief of the Investigative Department under the Investigative Committee of Dagestan, told journalists May 9. He also announced a murder version whereby the killers might have mistaken Magomedov for his cousin, a police officer who had repeatedly been threatened with violence.

The police are looking for suspected killers.

* As-Salam is released under the auspices of the Spiritual Leadership of the Muslims of Dagestan (SLMD) in the basic languages spoken in the republic. The SLMD has proclaimed a course toward affirming a Sufi variety of Islam in Dagestan.

 

Republic of Komi. Technical assignment indicative of censorship

By Tamara Makarova,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

The administration of the city of Sosnogorsk, Komi Republic, sees censorship as a norm of life, as can be gathered from a number of official documents it has issued. For example, its technical assignment to potential providers of media coverage of administration activities says, in part, that “The Customer shall control the quality and process of media product preparation … and the Contractor shall observe the Customer’s requirements concerning the products. The content of ready materials shall be coordinated with the Customer prior to publication.”

One may only wonder if the Sosnogorsk officials know anything about Article 29 of the RF Constitution which stipulates, “Mass media freedom is guaranteed. Censorship is prohibited.”

 

Arkhangelsk. Journalists protest against censorship

By Tamara Ovchinnikova,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

TV journalists in Arkhangelsk maintain their company managers violate their rights by subjecting them to censorship.

About 20 staffers of the State TV/Radio Company “Primorye” have appealed to Oleg Dobrodeyev, general director of the Moscow-based mother company VGTRK, to protest against direct instructions they receive from their local managers as to which themes to cover and how, and which ones to drop for fear of damaging the regional leadership’s public image. Also, some TV reports have been allowed to go on the air only in package with texts that the TV journalists suspect may have been supplied by the regional government’s press service.

The regional branch of the RF Journalists’ Union is convinced that any initiative to establish professional norms and principles should originate within the media community, develop on the basis of world and national experience, and come to perfection as civilized, fair and honest intra-community relations develop. Instances of pressure on journalists or attempts to restrict media freedom should not be brushed aside as particular media outlets’ internal affairs because they are prohibited under the law and may constitute a criminal offence.

In line with Article 3 of the RF Media Law, attempts by government agencies or individual officials to coerce a media outlet into prior coordination of its reports or other materials with them, or to ban the circulation of media products, are inadmissible as actions tantamount to censorship. Nor is it allowed under the law to create or finance organisations, institutions or official positions with a view to having media content censored.

 

Rostov Region. Court confirms editor’s guilt

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

The regional court in Rostov-on-Don has turned down an appeal by Vassily Kuchkov, editor of the newspaper Priazovsky Krai (PK), against a primary court’s ruling that qualified one of his publications as extremist.

In June 2009, the Kirovsky District prosecutor’s office filed with the Proletarsky District court in Rostov a legal claim against Kuchkov and PK Publishers’, asking to qualify his article “A Friend Among Foes, a Foe Among Friends” as an extremist publication. In the article, the author condemned – in very harsh words – Viktor Vodolatsky, Chief Ataman of the Great Don Army, then regional vice-governor and an incumbent member of the RF State Duma, for his offering the local Jewish community a recreational facility on the Azov Sea shore for purposes of equipping a children’s summer camp there.

In a historic digression, he also “exposed” a “Jewish-Freemasonic conspiracy” that he said has plagued the world since the times of Catherine the Great up to the present day.

In December 2010, the court satisfied the prosecutor’s legal claim, finding that the article did contain derogatory characteristics and emotionally negative assessments of the Hasidim, Jewish people and Israelites. Kuchkov was found guilty of “instigating interethnic hostility and disparaging human dignity while abusing his official position” (Article 282.2 of the RF Criminal Code) and forbidden to engage in publishing for the following three years – a milder punishment than the three years in a penal colony that the prosecution had insisted on.

Kuchkov challenged the sentence before a court of appeals, but his protest was turned down.

 

Voronezh Region. Court takes journalists’ side

By Roman Zholud,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

The regional arbitration court in Voronezh has considered a business reputation protection claim filed by the non-for-profit partnership “Utility Services Chamber” against Novovoronezh Cable TV Company following the show of a televised interview with Novovoronezh Mayor Sergey Mozgov who critically assessed the partnership’s performance in the city. The plaintiff claimed a refutation of what it described as a “libelous” and “reputation-ruining” interview, but no money in moral damage compensation.

The legal claim was turned down in full. Cable TV was relieved of any liability in line with Article 57.4 of the RF Media Law, as a mere broadcaster of the city head’s speech. As regards the speech itself, it was found to contain either evaluative statements or those not directly related to the plaintiff.

Cable TV’s interests were represented in court by lawyer Anastasia Vostrikova of the Media Rights Centre in Voronezh.

 

Sverdlovsk Region. Parliamentary parties treated selectively

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

A draft law has been submitted to the Sverdlovsk Region Duma that aims at easing the United Russia party (URP)’s monopolistic grip on the regional media.

Regional legislation guarantees equality to all parliamentary parties as regards coverage of their activities by the regional TV company. Besides, Central Urals authorities regularly announce tenders for the media to compete for the right to cover parliamentary activities; this year’s tender was won by Radio C. At the same time, no liability for non-compliance with the law is envisaged.

“The absence of liability has distorted a good concept and turned regional legislation into a kind of decorative cloak,” parliamentarian Georgy Persky said in an interview for UralInformBureau. “United Russia leaders continue appearing on TV in prime time, as they have always done, whereas opposition activists can only be watched speaking at 4 a.m. Earlier this year the regional electoral committee sent the URP leaders three consecutive warnings of their being in breach of the principle of equality.”

The bill’s author suggested imposing a fine of RUR 5,000-10,000 on the individual media managers showing bias toward the URP, and of RUR 10,000-30,000 on the legal entities breaching the relevant law provisions. Should a media company refuse to compensate for the non-provided air time during the following month, its managers should pay RUR 15,000-20,000, and the company itself, RUR 50,000-100,000, as a penalty.

It may as well be noted that the same parliamentarian (a member of the Communist party faction) earlier got the regional Duma to pass a law requiring the official newspaper Oblastnaya Gazeta to annually publish a report on the performance of each regional parliamentarian without the right to make any amendments to the document. Prior to that, that newspaper’s pages had hardly ever been accessible to opposition parliamentarians and even to ordinary URP deputies.

 

Republic of Dagestan. Authorities urged to open criminal proceedings in wake of journalist’s beating

Continued from Digest 522

By Magomed Magomedov,
GDF staff correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Dagestani law enforcement has still not shown any reaction to the May 2 beating of journalist Magomed Khanmagomedov in Derbent.

As we have reported, Magomedov, a special reporter for the weekly Chernovik, was attacked and beaten up while fulfilling an editorial assignment. His same-day filing a report with the city police department in Derbent failed to yield any result. Instead of nabbing the attackers, Major Malik Sadykov had a brief conversation with them, during which they threatened next time to “break that reporter’s legs”. Officers at the police headquarters promised to Khanmagomedov that the thugs who beat him “will come here for questioning tomorrow”.

On May 6 Biyakai Magomedov, a lawyer with OAO Svoboda Slova (Freedom of Expression), the company that owns the weekly Chernovik, urged the city police command to institute criminal proceedings in the wake of the journalist’s beating, and published an article entitled “Cowards in Shoulder Straps” to express the staffers’ attitude toward the incident. “Of course, we will have those scoundrels (attackers) tracked down and brought to justice,” the article said. “But we will also see to it that the cowardly police officers who, instead of apprehending the criminals and sending them to jail, persuaded them to come to the police headquarters to talk things over, are duly punished, too. We will sue those cops for their crime of omission! Faint-hearted officers must quit their police service, and criminals must stay behind bars!” Magomedov demanded that a criminal case be opened within the following 24 hours.

However, by May 10, neither criminal nor administrative proceedings had been instituted. “We have prepared an appeal to Magomed Khizriyev, head of Dagestan’s Interior Affairs Department, about the inaction of Derbent’s acting police chief Abdulakhad Magomedov, and will insist on his being called to responsibility,” Biyakai Magomedov said.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in April 2011

Attacks on journalists – 13 (Natalia Seibil, former editor-in-chief, Pust Govoryat talk show, Moscow Region; Sergey Krasilnikov, journalist, web publication Ulyanovsk Online, Ulyanovsk; Ilya Tyan, cameraman, Alpha Channel, Blagoveshchensk; crew of reporters for SurgutInterNovosti TV Company, Tyumen Region; crew of reporters for Ekipazh crime news TV chronicle, Nizhny Novgorod; crew of reporters for TV-Com Channel, Ulan-Ude; Nadezhda Popova, journalist, newspaper Argumenty Nedeli, Moscow, attacked in 2009; Yuri Ugryumov, journalist, NTV Channel, Stavropol Region; Yelena Mikhalkova, editor-in-chief, and Yevgeny Sidelnikov, cameraman, MTV-Abaza TV Company, Republic of Khakassia; Semyon Kolobayev, journalist, newspaper MosOblEko, Moscow Region; Oleg Bocharov, editor, Maxim magazine, Moscow; Grigory Golosov, editor, Rossiyskoye Elektoralnoye Obozreniye magazine, St. Petersburg; Dmitry Andryushchenko, correspondent, Kommersant FM radio station, Moscow).

Instances of censorship – 4 (media in Sverdlovsk Region; website of Business Club magazine, Penza; media in Samara Region; website of newspaper Vesti Karelii, Republic of Karelia).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 5 (Vitaly Obukhov, journalist, newspaper Belovsky Vestnik, Kemerovo Region; Margarita Yefremova, deputy editor-in-chief, newspaper Yuzhny Federalny, Rostov-on-Don; Oleg Gusev, editor-in-chief, and Roman Perin, deputy editor-in-chief, newspapers Potayonnoye and Za Russkoye Delo, St. Petersburg; Sergey Kurt-Adzhiyev, former editor-in-chief, newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Samare, Samara; Oleg Teplishchev, correspondent, newspaper Zhitel, Astrakhan).

Unlawful sacking of editor/journalist – 2 (Semyon Vakhstein, editor, Ekho Penzy radio station, Penza; Lyudmila Vidmer, editor, newspaper Zarya, Altai Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 7 (Natalia Fonina, journalist, newspaper Udarny Front, Maritime Region; crew of reporters for Vesti Orenburzhya TV show, Orenburg; Aleksandr Drozdov, photographer, Trend Agency, St. Petersburg; Elkhan Mirzoyev, freelance journalist, Moscow; Margarita Yefremova, deputy editor-in-chief, newspaper Yuzhny Federalny, Rostov-on-Don; Sergey Slykhanov, freelance reporter for Ulyanovsk Online web publication, Ulyanovsk; Nikolai Khriyenko, journalist, Kiev-based newspaper Den, detained in Bryansk Region).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 23, worth a total of RUR 11,800,000.

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.) – 30.

Threats against journalists and media – 12 (Natalia Fonina, journalist, newspaper Udarny Front, Maritime Region; staffers of Business Club magazine, Penza; Ilya Tyan, cameraman, Alpha Channel, Blagoveshchensk; crew of reporters for SurgutInterNovosti TV Company, Tyumen Region; Nadezhda Popova, journalist, newspaper Argumenty Nedeli, Moscow – threatened twice; Yelena Mikhalkova, Елена Михалькова, editor-in-chief, and Yevgeny Sidelnikov, cameraman, MTV-Abaza TV Company, Republic of Khakassia; Semyon Kolobayev, journalist, newspaper MosOblEko, Moscow Region; Yelena Zubova, editor, website Yasenevo-2, Moscow; Dmitry Ternovsky and Ilya Varlamov, freelance journalists, Moscow; Denis Shulepov, photo correspondent, newspaper Krasnoye Znamya Severa, Republic of Komi – threatened twice).

Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 4 (newspaper Pravda Primorya, Arkhangelsk, refused thrice; newspaper Veskyd Serni (Open Talk), Republic of Komi).

Disruption of radio or TV broadcasts – 3 (cable radio, Moscow Region; Ekho Moskvy radio station and REN TV Channel, both in Ingushetia).

Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 1 (newspaper Kontinent-Sibir, in Barnaul).

Interference with a print media outlet’s operation – 1 (newspaper Upolnomochen Zayavit, Rostov-on-Don).

Interference with web publications – 11 (LiveJournal – thrice; website of Zenit football club, St. Petersburg; Novaya Gazeta website; Nashi Movement’s website – twice; Stal organisation’s website - twice; Mestniye Movement’s website; Ingushetia.org website).

Confiscation of/damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 9 (Dictaphone of Sergey Krasilnikov, journalist, Ulyanovsk Online web publication, Ulyanovsk; Dictaphone of Avtoradio correspondent, and video cassette of Alpha Channel, Blagoveshchensk; video cassette of SurgutInterNovosti TV Company, Tyumen Region; PC of Vitaly Obukhov, journalist, newspaper Belovsky Vestnik, Kemerovo Region; video camera of NTV reporter Yuri Ugryumov, Stavropol Region; 3 PCs of newspaper Yuzhny Federalny, Rostov-on-Don).

Administrative pressure (unplanned inspections by sanitary, fire and tax services) – 2 (newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti, Vladivostok; Sovetskaya Kuban TV show, Krasnodar).

 

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 30.

 

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

 

OUR PUBLICATIONS

Belgorod prosecutor’s office pretends to fight extremism

By Roman Zholud,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Everybody knows that criticising authorities in Russia is unsafe. But the city prosecutor’s office in Belgorod recently set an absolute record of absurdity in a bid to please those at the helm: it reprimanded journalists for their positive coverage of official performance – actually, as directed by President Medvedev.

Many may remember the chain of media scandals that flared up in Belgorod during the past few years over “spiritual safety” matters, causing local authorities now to ban hard rock and St. Valentine’s Day, now to veto allegedly “obscene” theatrical shows by Yevgeny Grishkovets and other modern playwrights. Yet the “fight against extremism” initiated by the city prosecutor’s office overshadowed all the previous “achievements” by local government officials in charge of safeguarding public security…

The absurdity show in Belgorod was preceded by two articles published in the newspaper Zhityo-Bytyo on February 1 this year.

One described the security-toughening measures ordered on public transport in the wake of the terrorist act at Domodedovo. As is known, President Dmitry Medvedev raised that theme by personally inspecting Moscow’s airports in the company of Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, giving a good dressing-down to security services and calling to urgently rectify the security situation.

Zhityo-Bytyo reporters, eager to support the presidential initiative and seeing public security in Belgorod as a major priority, went to the city airport and bus terminal to see whether metal detectors had been installed and how the police was working. It turned out a metal finder had already been installed at the airport – but not yet at the bus terminal – on orders from the prosecutor’s office. Besides, the journalists reported that three police officers guarded the terminal on weekdays, and four on weekends.

The second artice was based on a press release by the Belgorod customs service about its having stopped a collection of antiques that included German postage stamps dating back to the 1930s and featuring a portrait of Hitler and the swastika, as shown on the photo pictures appended to the press release. The message of the story was self-evident: the journalists praised local customs officers for not letting a valuable historic collection be smuggled out of Russia.

Yet the prosecutors turned out to see the situation differently. Just one day later, Belgorod’s Acting Prosecutor Olga Vassilchenko issued a directive requiring the general director of Svobodnaya Pressa, the publishing house that issues Zhityo-Bytyo, to take disciplinary action against the authors of the two stories (for details, see http://www.gdf.ru/lenta/item/1/856).

 

OUR PARTNERS

Committee to Protect Journalists: “The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors”

On May 2, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a special report by Danny O’Brien, entitled “The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors”.

“The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression,” the report said.

The methods of Internet censorship include web blocking (key country: Iran); precision censorship (key country: Belarus); denial of access (key country: Cuba); infrastructure control (key country: Ethiopia); attacks on exile-run sites (key country: Burma); malware attacks (key country: China); state cybercrime (key country: Tunisia under Ben Ali); Internet kill switches (key country: Egypt under Mubarak); detention of bloggers (key country: Syria); and violence against online journalists (key country: Russia).

These attacks on the Internet are often accompanied by persecution of online journalists, the report said. According to CPJ data, a total of 69 journalists who worked mainly online were in detention as of December 1, 2010, which made up nearly half of all imprisoned media workers.

Those sophisticated and often invisible attacks open a new front in the fight for press freedom, O’Brien said. While resistance to censorship is essential, it is no less important to ensure the basic protection of sources and of information they supply. On the whole, those online attacks undermine people’s fundamental right to be informed, the report said.

 

RSF Predators of Press Freedom list published

On May 3, Reporters sans frontières (RSF, Reporters Without Borders) published a list of “38 heads of state and warlords who sow terror among journalists”.

Among the “predators of press freedom” is Bahrain’s King Hamad Ben Aissa Al-Khalifa, whose regime’s crackdown on demonstrators was accompanied by violence against media workers and by large-scale censorship. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi remains on the RSF list as one of the worst, long-time enemies of press freedom who has allowed 4 journalists to be killed in Libya since February 2011. Since the royal family fully controls the media in Saudi Arabia, King Abdallah Ibn Al-Saud is on the list as well, together with his colleague, King Mswait III of Swaziland. Other predators include Presidents Issaias Afeworke of Eritrea, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan and Kim Jong-il of North Korea – the leaders of the world’s three worst totalitarian regimes, according to RSF. “Their extreme centralisation of authority, their purges and their ubiquitous propaganda leave no space for any freedom,” RSF analysts say. The Iranian leaders, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are on the press freedom predators list, too.

Besides the Turkmen president, the list features the names of leaders of some other ex-Soviet countries, among them Aleksandr Lukashenko (Belarus), Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijan), Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan) and Nursultan Nazarbayev (Kazakhstan). As regards Russia, it is “traditionally” represented by two figures at once – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, the RSF press service noted.

Among the extremist and terrorist groups identified as predators of press freedom are the Taliban, Italian organised crime, and Mexican drug cartels.

For the full list, see http://en.rsf.org/predator-bashar-al-assad,37213.html

 

 

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.
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