Дайджест
9 Июня 2011 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 527

June 6, 2011

 

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Glasnost Defence Foundation marks 20th anniversary

The Glasnost Defence Foundation, one of Russia’s oldest NGOs, marks its 20th anniversary at Moscow’s House of Journalists on June 6.

“Three epochs ago, back in Soviet times, a plenary meeting of the Filmmakers’ Union conceitedly took upon itself the task of defending glasnost and established this foundation, the GDF, for the purpose,” Journalists’ Union Secretary Pavel Gutiontov said in his jubilee address. “Complying with the plenum’s decision, filmmaker Alexei Simonov ‘dropped in’ there just for a while – together with Yegor Yakovlev, Elem Klimov, Mark Rozovsky and Alexei German – evidently to quickly do their defence job and get back to their favourite profession. As you see, they failed to cope with that task overnight, and not each of them managed to return to filmmaking, either…”

In the morning, the conference “The Glasnost Defence Foundation and Its Role in Promoting Freedom of Expression in Russia” was held. In his opening address, Journalists’ Union President Vsevolod Bogdanov listed the achievements the GDF has scored in defending journalists’ rights over “those staggering twenty years of struggle”. One of the Media Law authors, Mikhail Fedotov, greeted the GDF on behalf of the Journalists’ Union, Presidential Council on Freedom of Expression, and Media Law watchdogs.

Speakers at the first sitting, “The Foundation and Defence of Glasnost as Seen by Eyewitnesses”, included people whom the GDF helped at different times: Dododzhon Atovulloyev (Tajikistan), Mikhail Afanasyev (Abakan, Khakassia), Galina Arapova (Voronezh), Valery Badmayev (Elista, Kalmykia), Olga Kitova (Belgorod/Moscow), Sergey Kurt-Adzhiyev (Samara), Stanislav Kholopov (Saransk), Grigory Pasko (Vladivostok/Moscow), Olga Melkumova (Dubna), and Sergey Sokolov (Moscow).

During the second sitting, “The Foundation: Present, Past and Future”, current and former GDF staffers spoke about their life at the time when they worked for, or collaborated with, the Foundation. The group of speakers included Manana Aslamazyan (Moscow/Yerevan), Vladimir Isakov (Veliky Novgorod), Yuri Vdovin (St. Petersburg), Irina Chernova (Volgograd/Moscow), Tamara Makarova (Sosnogorsk), and Olga Karabanova, Nadezhda Azhgikhina, Pavel Gutiontov and Vera Yefremova (all four of Moscow).

In his closing speech, the unchallenged GDF President Alexei Simonov described his Foundation’s outlook for the future.

At a friendly get-together in the evening, there was a concert with lots of merrymaking and toasts proposed to GDF future successes.

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Suspected killer of Anna Politkovskaya detained

Anna Politkovskaya’s suspected killer Rustam Makhmudov was detained in the Achkhoi-Martan District of Chechnya May 31. Earlier, he had been reported to be hiding in Belgium, France and Turkey.

Makhmudov was arrested at his parents’ home, where he lived lately, by a group of FSB and Interior Ministry officers. “His detention was facilitated by law enforcers in Belgium, where the suspect had spent several years,” RF Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said. “Our intensified cooperation with Belgian law enforcement, which compelled Makhmudov to leave Belgium, finally led to his apprehension.”

Makhmudov was reported to have fled abroad using a forged passport, which trick might also help him return to Chechnya.

He is facing four criminal charges – homicide, illegal turnover of arms, kidnapping and extortion.

Makhmudov’s lawyers insist he was not implicated in Politkovskaya’s murder. “The traces of perspiration found on the pistol do not correspond to Rustam Makhmudov’s genetic code,” lawyer Murad Musayev said. Law enforcers, for their part, contended that there is ample other evidence unmistakably proving the suspect’s guilt.

Memorial Human Rights Centre head Oleg Orlov expects this arrest to help “pull the case out of the deadlock”. “The question arises as to whether the investigators will prove capable of extracting all the information they need out of it,” the RIA Novosti news agency cited him as saying.

Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov described Makhmudov’s arrest as “a great success”, adding that the investigators have also scored other important achievements. “They found the workshop where the killer weapon was made, and this, together with two eyewitnesses and the main suspect’s arrest, signals very good progress,” he said.

 

RUSSIA

Rostov Region. Power grid head manager attacks lady journalist

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Reporter Valentina Serash of the Rostov-based TV/radio company Puls has been attacked in Azov by Nikolai Buryka, deputy director of the inter-district power grid.

She was to shoot a report about power engineering specialists conducting excavation works without prior coordination with the archaeologists. Any construction in Azov, a city of great historical importance, is only possible after archaeological exploration of the would-be construction pad. As the journalists arrived, Buryka ran up to Serash telling her to immediately switch off the camera.

Hearing no in reply, Buryka started threatening the lady reporter, and then slapped her on the face. Serash turned to the medics to have her bruises certified, for her to file a legal claim against the grid manager on charges of hooliganism, as well as interference with a journalist’s lawful professional activities (an offence punishable under Article 144 of the RF Criminal Code by a fine of RUR 100,000-300,000 or by correctional labour).

 

Rostov Region. Yet another district newspaper editor fired

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

When Svetlana Alipova, editor of the newspaper Perekryostok, was invited to the Belokalitvinsky District administration headquarters, she thought district leader Alexander Ovcharov would congratulate her on her newspaper’s winning the Third National Competition organised by the Federation Council as part of a government-society media partnership programme. Instead, she was told she was fired.

Ovcharov signed the dismissal order even without first breaking off (before time) the work agreement with Alipova, the editor and director of the municipal enterprise issuing the newspaper. The formal pretext was last February’s audit of Perekryostok’s financial performance that had not revealed any serious omissions, though.

Problems for the editor began piling up a few months ago. First, Ms Sidenkova, chair of the district legislative assembly, frowned at Perekryostok after a series of critical publications and launched a pressure campaign that resulted in the seizure of the printing press that had stood in the newspaper office for many years. As regards Ovcharov, he repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the district newspaper’s editorial policy, including in an interview he granted the GDF correspondent as far back as six months ago.

He was enraged at the time by a Perekryostok report that failed to “adequately reflect” his administration’s role in the construction of a sports ground in one of the local villages.

This time, Alipova was accused of publishing a story about a public event of district importance while daring to criticise the organisers. She was also charged with “communist propaganda” for making public a readers’ complaint signed by six persons, of whom one happened to be a Communist Party member. Still worse, there was a colour photo of a luxury car on the front page that, authorities thought, was ill-placed there.

Perekryostok does have many advertisers and is a financially successful newspaper working on the principles of self-repayment. Therefore, together with a few other best-performing municipal newspapers, it was to take part in a pilot project aimed at changing the founders’ composition – i.e., ousting the city or district administrations from the group of constitutors and gaining full independence.

Unfortunately, Svetlana Alipova did not stay the newspaper’s editor long enough to see that happy day come. She had a nervous breakdown after the dismissal. While she is recovering in hospital, the staffers have held a general meeting to give the founders a vote of no confidence.

 

Republic of Karelia. Fighting pseudo-extremism is easier than fighting economic devastation

By Anatoly Tsygankov,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

The website Politika Karelii has posted an article about the appalling conditions in which people live in Karelia’s northern villages. For example, the village of Lendery with a population of 1,848 is separated from the outer world by the absence of motorways; this makes the place impossible to reach in slushy weather. With no stable telephone communications (local residents use the services of Finnish cell phone operators) and no continuous power supply, some important social facilities have been shut down, and the local hospital is on the verge of closure, too. After the recent shutdown of the sole industrial facility, the Lendery logging enterprise, it seems life may soon grind to a halt.

Village head Sergey Kozlov, after repeated pleas for help to republican authorities, was advised to appeal to Karelia’s Journalists’ Union for assistance in organising a news conference. (By the way, it took him a whole day to get from Lendery to Petrozavodsk.) Naturally, the journalists responded by publishing a series of stories about the catastrophic living conditions in the far-off village. Specifically, Politika Karelii featured an article entitled “Humans Can’t Live That Way! But They Do…”, whose author summed up S. Kozlov’s sketches from local life, mentioning, among other things, the fact that telephone and road communications with Finland are more stable in Lendery than with other villages and townships on Russian soil (as stressed by Kozlov). The story concluded with a bitterly ironical conjecture that one way to draw authorities’ attention might be to discuss the option of having this godforsaken territory adjoined to neighbouring Finland, if Russia so stubbornly neglects it. Desperate villagers are planning to hold a general meeting to figure out how to survive, the article said.

The publication did catch the eye of those at the helm – not executive authorities but law enforcement and controlling bodies. You would be mistaken to suppose they were alarmed by the distressed position of Lendery residents. Instead, they saw the last passage as calling to separate the village of Lendery from Russia, and an investigation was instantly ordered. The village head was questioned as to whether he had said anything about separation plans during the news conference, and the story’s author was asked to reproduce S. Kozlov’s statement word for word. The law enforcers did not seem to be concerned at all about the appalling violations of villagers’ constitutional rights: prosecutors said they had not received any complaints from Lendery residents. The police, for its part, scanned the text of the publication for whether or not it gives reason to apply the provisions of the law against extremism, and carried out a check-up the results of which are so far unknown. Indeed, it’s easier to fight pseudo-extremism than take steps to raise people’s living standards in real terms.

 

Yushno-Sakhalinsk. Retail press distributors targeted

By Olga Vassilyeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

To most press distributors in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, June 1 was a black day. As notified by the Architecture, Urban Development and Realty Management Department (DAGUN), they must have had their press kiosks in downtown streets dismantled by that date, and on the outskirts – replaced with those of another model imposed on them by DAGUN.

Any press vendor will say that replacing a kiosk worth over RUR 1 m is clearly unaffordable. Press stalls of the new design are not only expensive but also less convenient for selling newspapers and magazines than the old-model structures were. Besides, even if an owner replaces his kiosk, he cannot be sure DAGUN will extend its land lease agreement with him. Quite unexpectedly, the Department has announced that current lease agreements, concluded with the press stall owners until 28 March 2012, are null and void.

The campaign of pressure on press distributors in the city has continued, on and off, for quite a long time. This time it is gaining momentum on the eve of vitally important political events – State Duma and presidential elections, in which the press would be supposed to play a meaningful role.

Vendors maintain that DAGUN’s actions restricting people’s access to information are at odds with the RF Constitution. In defiance of the social role press distributors play, Department officials disrupt the continuous operation of the retail press network and keep shattering the pretty unstable balance of the press community of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, a city lagging far behind Russia’s average in the number of press stalls per 1,000 residents. If the kiosks are pulled down, their owners will inevitably be ruined, and a sizeable part of the press traders will find themselves jobless.

The Press Publishers and Distributors Association of the Sakhalin Region, uniting 12 media editors and entrepreneurs, has sent alarm messages to Andrei Lobkin and Sergey Dmitriyev, heads of the city’s executive and representative power, and Olga Vassilyeva, GDF staff correspondent in the Far Eastern Federal District. The authors ask to interfere and protect the press distributors against this bureaucratic arbitrariness.

 

Perm. New attempt to investigate reporter’s beating. Continued from Digest 499

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

In late May, the Motovilikhinsky District prosecutor’s office in Perm returned for additional investigation the criminal case of Mikhail Lobanov, a journalist who suffered grave bodily damage as a result of a street attack. The decision signalled that yet another protest by the victim and his lawyer against the unlawful closure of the case was finally satisfied.

The journalist was severely beaten up early on June 24, 2010. Two men stalked on him from behind to hit him on the head and kick away at him after he fell senseless. The doctors diagnosed him as having “scull cap and scull base fractures, a brain contusion of medium gravity, an epidural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and facial and head bruises”. His closed craniocerebral injury was qualified as one of criminal origin (for details, see Digest 499).

Operative Anton Verkhovetsky of police department No. 4 and his chiefs Sergey Fedotovskikh and Sergey Chirtsov unlawfully refused to start criminal proceedings against the attackers a whole four times – but each time Lobanov would file a new complaint, causing the law enforcers to resume investigation… only to drop it again after a while. It was not until 29 October 2010 that full-scale investigative proceedings got underway.

The names of the culprits were well known to both the investigators and the victim from the outset. Lobanov was attacked by Sergey Pogor, son of Ivan Pogor, a high-ranking officer at the regional police department, and by a student of High School No. 135 in Perm, whose name is not disclosed because of his minor age.

The process of assessing the degree of each attacker’s guilt was accompanied by strange things happening continuously. In chief investigator Alexei Malgin’s determination identifying the attack as a criminal act the name “Pogor” was carefully blacked out. Investigator Lyubov Zuyeva attempted to shift the full blame for the assault onto the high school student alone, closing the proceedings against Sergey Pogor – and this despite Lobanov’s testimony that it was Pogor who had initiated the beating. The same lady investigator, Zuyeva, refused to satisfy Lobanov’s request for having him undergo a psycho-physiological examination. A third investigator, Yelena Tsoi, went as far as denying altogether that either of the assailants had the malicious intent to cripple the victim. On April 25, Sergey Pogor’s criminal prosecution was stopped in view of “no elements of crime” found in his behaviour.

The reasons for those numerous investigative absurdities may be rooted in the fact that Mikhail Lobanov has for more than 20 years reported on crime and law themes, including police corruption, and that his brutal beating might not be accidental – the more so since a high-ranking police officer’s son was involved. This may also raise well-grounded suspicions that investigators may have been under strong pressure from their superiors to curtail the criminal proceedings as soon as possible.

Now that his case has been returned for additional investigation, M. Lobanov will insist on its reassignment to the regional Investigative Committee Department for further handling.

 

Rostov-on-Don. Regional court allows printing firm to resume work

Continued from Digest 525

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Krestyanin Publishers’ has protested the Myasnikovsky District court decision halting its printing house operation for 90 days in connection with a fire inspector’s negative report on an unplanned inspection held without a prosecutor’s warrant, which is mandatory in cases of this kind. Although no serious omissions were found, Judge Khayanyan ruled to suspend the printing house for three months (see Digest 525).

Prior to the fire marshal, the printing house had been visited by district police chief Sklyarov, who said he had been tipped off as to an anti-Semitic flyer being prepared for printing. In reality, that was a fully legal election campaign flyer ordered by Mr Ilyin, Communist Party candidate for the mayor of Shakhty.

On May 12, the printing house deputy director had a telephone call from O. Bessmertny, head of the regional Press and Information Department, again about Ilyin’s flyer. A few minutes later, Krestyanin general director Irina Samokhina was called on the phone by PR technologist Sergey Kaminsky (election campaign coordinator for United Russia’s mayoral nominee), who invited her to meet and discuss “an interesting commercial proposal”. Samokhina declined to.

On May 17, the printing house was closed for 90 days, with Judge Khayanyan repeatedly adjourning court sittings to review the case. Krestyanin then protested her actions to the regional court of Rostov.

The scandalous shutdown of the printing house caused broad international repercussions. Gavin O’Reilly, President of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN), Erik Bjerager, President of the World Editors Forum (IFRA), and the international media rights watchdog “Reporters without Borders” urged Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to ensure that Krestyanin is immediately permitted to reopen.

The Rostov Region court considered Krestyanin’s protest on June 3, canceling the closure decision and charging RUR 10,000 in fine from the house management for perceived violations of the fire safety rules. The printing house has resumed operation.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

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

Deaths of journalists – 2 (Pavel Balakirev, cameraman, Vesti-Peterburg TV/Radio Company, St. Petersburg; Yakhya Magomedov, editor of Avar-language version, newspaper As-Salam, Republic of Dagestan).

Attacks on journalists – 14 (Magomed Khanmagomedov, correspondent, Chernovik weekly, Republic of Dagestan; Ivan Tarasenko, reporter, newspaper Sovetsky Sport, Moscow; Yuri Samsonov, reporter, newspaper Novosti Klina, Moscow Region; Alexander Koltsov, reporter, newspaper Nara-Novost, Moscow Region; Georgy Balakov, correspondent, SaratovNews, Saratov; Vladimir Bukatka, REN-TV cameraman, crew of reporters for Channel One, and NTV crew – all from Moscow; Eduard Shmonin, head of Chinovnik.ru web portal and Sever News magazine, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region; Elman Soltakhanov, reporter, newspaper Kommersant, Moscow; crew of reporters for Novosti Nashego Goroda TV show, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region; Anna Artemyeva, photographer, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; Mikhail Trofimov, journalist, NTV Plus Channel, Moscow; Valentina Serash, correspondent, Puls TV, Rostov Region).

Instances of censorship – 5 (Sosnogorsk TV, Komi Republic; Pomorye TV/Radio Company, Arkhangelsk; RTV-Podmoskovye TV/Radio Company, Moscow Region; STS-Komi Channel, Komi Republic; NTV Channel, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 5 (Vassily Kuchkov, editor, newspaper Priazovsky Krai, Rostov-on-Don; Alexei Navalny, founder of RosPil anti-corruption project; Oleg Lurye, freelance journalist, Moscow; Artemy Troitsky, Novaya Gazeta - two criminal cases).

Unlawful sacking of editor/journalist – 1 (Svetlana Guseva, editor-in-chief, newspaper Oloniya, Republic of Karelia).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 4 (Viktor Shamayev, correspondent, Kasparov.ru, Penza; Dmitry Chernovsky, freelance journalist, Moscow; crew of reporters for Stavropolye TV/Radio Company, Stavropol; Alexei Matveyev and Natiya Poladashvili, reporters for Georgian TV Company PIK, detained in Moscow).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 28, worth a total of RUR 18,410,001.

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.) – 20.

Threats against journalists and media – 7 (Magomed Khanmagomedov, correspondent, Chernovik weekly, Republic of Dagestan; journalists of Express TV Company, Penza; Yuri Samsonov, reporter, newspaper Novosti Klina, Moscow Region; Angelina Novikova, freelance correspondent, Vashi Novosti web newspaper, Novgorod Region; Georgy Balakov, reporter, SaratovNews, Saratov; Eduard Shmonin, head of Chinovnik.ru web portal and Sever News magazine, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region; Valentina Serash, correspondent, Puls TV, Rostov).

Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 5 (media in Yaroslavl Region; newspaper Spravedlivaya Rossiya, St. Petersburg, 4 times).

Closure of media – 1 (Gzt.ru web publication).

Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 1 (newspaper Listok, Republic of Altai).

Interference with Internet publications – 6 (LiveJournal; Golos Ingushetii website, twice; Yakutia parliament’s website; RosPil project and LiveJournal – in Ulyanovsk).

Confiscation of/ damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 2 (Dictaphone of Ivan Tarasenko, reporter for newspaper Sovetsky Sport, Moscow; photo camera of newspaper Novosti Klina, Moscow Region).

Administrative pressure (unplanned inspections by sanitary, fire and tax services) – 1 (Krestyanin Publishers’, Rostov Region)

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 26.

 

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

 

OUR PARTNERS

CPJ Impunity Index published

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has released its annual Impunity Index, listing countries “where journalists are slain and killers go free”.

A total of 251 journalists have been killed in 13 nations of the world whose law enforcements remain inactive, and convictive sentences have never been obtained, says the 2011 Impunity Index released June 1. Deliberate killings of journalists are sinister warnings to others to keep silent and not cover sensitive themes, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said, pointing out that the Index findings “lay bare the stark choices that governments face: Either address the issue of violence against journalists head-on or see murders continue and self-censorship spread.”

CPJ research shows Russia has made measurable progress. The number of journalist killings has been declining, and prosecutors won convictions in the 2009 double-murder case of reporter Anastasia Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov. The nations at the bottom of the list – Iraq, Somalia and Philippines – showed no progress, and in some of them the situation even worsened.

Over 40 per cent of the victims on the Index were threatened before killing, and nearly 30 per cent engaged in political reporting. The vast majority of unsolved murder victims were local journalists, and only 6 per cent – international reporters working abroad.

CPJ delegations met with the heads of state in Philippines, Mexico and Pakistan, and with high-ranking law enforcement officers in Russia, seeking systemic reforms and convictions in unsolved cases. “In each instance, top officials pledged to reverse the record of impunity in their countries, but the task is considerable,” the Index says. “CPJ research shows that, time and again, entrenched corruption and dysfunction in law enforcement has thwarted justice in journalist murders. Suspects have been publicly identified in dozens of unsolved cases examined by CPJ for this Index, but authorities have been unable or unwilling to gain convictions.”

 

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, 119991 Moscow, Russia.
Telephone/fax: (495) 637-4947, 637-4420, e-mail: boris@gdf.ru, fond@gdf.ru

Все новости

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