Дайджест
22 Сентября 2011 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 537

19 September 2011

 

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Communists propose establishment of watchdog council to keep up morals on TV

In yet another attempt to raise the level of morals on Russian TV, a bill was submitted to the State Duma on 13 September – this time by the Communist party faction – proposing the establishment of a “Supreme Council to Protect Morals in the Area of TV and Radio Broadcasting in the Russian Federation”.

This is by far not the first attempt to improve the moral climate on national television by assigning a panel of supervisors and advisors to ensure that TV content meets established moral standards. But for various reasons, specifically because of media community protests against the imposition of censorship, the idea has never been translated into reality. This, however, has not stopped zealots of the moral purity of TV shows from continuing to press for their project’s implementation.

The new bill provides for setting up supervisory boards on the state-run TV channels, including Channel One, Rossiya and Vesti-24. Allegedly, the proposed boards would not engage in preliminary censorship and would only assess TV content after a show’s going on the air; moreover, their assessments, as claimed by the communists, would not entail any fines or other sanctions for the broadcasters. The bill’s proclaimed goal, as usual, is to protect viewers from inordinate numbers of commercials as well as scenes of violence and pornography.

At the same time, the Communist party’s Central Committee Secretary Sergey Obukhov has said in an interview for the Vzglyad newspaper that the bill aims to get both the visual content and the programme policy of the state-run TV channels under control, and that the would-be supervisory boards “should be empowered to change a channel’s programme policy”; otherwise, “they might turn into purely decorative organs”. The boards should include representatives of parties and public organisations, as well as “renowned champions of society morals”, Obukhov said adding that these boards should act not only as observers but also as advisors as to “which features and series are ill-placed on national television”. To sum it up, “they would determine each channel’s programme policy as a whole,” the party secretary said.

Clearly, preliminary censorship would not even be required in that event – why bother if the said “representatives of parties” (of those having their factions in the State Duma, to be sure) and “champions of society morals”, while called upon only to “observe and advise”, would actually determine both the content and the programme policies of the TV channels?

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

International conference discusses journalist security

A UN intra-agency conference was held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 13-14 to discuss the safety of journalists.

The event was attended by UNESCO Secretary General Irina Bokova; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay; UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Kiyetaka Akasaka, UN Deputy Secretary General for Communication and Public Information; Janis Karklins, UNESCO Deputy Secretary General for Information and Communication; and leaders of regional journalistic associations.

The head of UNESCO had taken the decision to hold such a conference after consultations with UN member nation representatives.

According to UNESCO, over 500 journalists and other media workers have been killed worldwide while carrying out their professional responsibilities. Most of the victims were not “hot spot” war correspondents but ordinary peacetime reporters murdered in their home countries. Many had been subject to attacks, threats, criminal prosecution and unlawful arrests. Their killers, as a rule, managed to escape with impunity.

The conference participants decided to work out an action plan to give journalists better protections while doing their professional work. “We are to formulate a comprehensive and efficient plan of action to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers,” Bokova said. “This programme is called upon to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of crimes against journalists.”

In the course of discussion, conferees positively assessed Russia’s experience (a project co-sponsored by the International Federation of Journalists, the RF Journalists’ Union and the Glasnost Defence Foundation) in monitoring violations of journalist rights and investigation of crimes against the press. They suggested including its principles in a draft international programme to prevent violence that would be implemented by the concerted efforts of civil society, journalistic associations and international actions.

 

RUSSIA

Kemerovo Region. Shots fired at independent TV channel’s office

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Late on 15 September, unidentified persons fired several shots at the first and second floors of the building which houses the offices of Channel 10 of Novokuznetsk Independent TV (NNT) Company, as well as the TV channels STK 10 and GTRK Kuzbass, and the radio stations Kuznetsky Ekspress and Militseiskaya Volna. Fortunately, none of the staffers or security guards was hurt.

Preliminary investigation shows the shots were fired from a TT pistol, as proven by two 7.62-mm bullets found at the scene of the crime, but it is up to ballistic experts to have their final say on the matter, according to Kuznetsk police department investigators. Judging by the bullet holes (one on the second floor, where the NNT accounting office is located), the attackers may have targeted particularly Channel 10, but police officers inspecting the crime scene questioned that assertion as premature, since three other shots had been fired on the windows of vacant offices. For the moment, police are conducting an investigation under Article 213 of the RF Criminal Code (“Hooliganism”), the police department’s spokesman told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Alexei Ryabov, the independent channel’s editor-in-chief, said in an interview for federal news media he does not link the incident with journalists’ professional activities, since his channel has not put on the air any resounding crime reports or stories about big business scandals lately. The shooting did not affect the work process in any way, he said.

Law enforcers, in their turn, do not rule out a link with TV journalists’ professional performance and will check this version too, among others. Kemerovo Region Governor Aman Tuleyev has taken the investigation under personal control.

Republic of Karelia. Bailiffs step in to enforce court ruling

See also Digest 534

By Anatoly Tsygankov,

GDF correspondent in North-Western Federal District

Olga Tervo, head of the Olonetsky district administration in Karelia happens to think that as an official acting on behalf of one of the district newspaper Oloniya’s trustees, she is entitled to interfere in the paper’s editorial policy. Leafing through the fresh issues, she would require the editor, Svetlana Guseva, to write explanations each time she found a “wrong” story, i.e. one highlighting facts that the district administration found displeasing. Guseva would obey, while not disclaiming any of her publications. This lack of mutual understanding resulted in Tervo’s ordering Guseva’s dismissal. Finding that decision unlawful, the editor challenged it in court and had the injustice undone: a judge ruled to have her reinstated.

However, she could not return to her workplace at once; together with her lawyer she had to ask the bailiffs’ assistance in order to get her editor’s seat back. By that time, the district administration had already hired a new editor, who will now have to leave. But the conflict does not seem to have been settled. Unofficially – she has no documents to prove this – Guseva has been told she will be fired anyway, on whatever pretext may be found plausible, to compensate for the administration’s loss of its case in court.

Soon after Guseva’s reinstatement, the district administration ordered a comprehensive financial audit of the newspaper’s performance and suspended the editor until its findings were announced. Exhausted by this dragged-out conflict, Guseva said to the GDF correspondent in despair that she might resign voluntarily, after all, to prevent the staff’s further suffering because of her differences with the district head – all the more so because she has long since earned her pension.

Yet the labour conflict is not yet over, and the prosecutor’s office and employment inspectorate are currently checking the lawfulness of the district administration’s actions.

Chelyabinsk. Media-oversight agency attempts to dictate

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Igor Makarov, editor of the Chelnovosti.ru news agency, has told the GDF correspondent about increasingly frequent phone calls to his office by a lady official from Roskomnadzor [federal service overseeing the sphere of public communications], who is in charge of monitoring websites, including Chelnovosti.ru, which is officially registered as a media outlet. The agency management and staff have accepted such calls with understanding, since “we are always eager to cooperate,” Makarov said.

However, a couple of her latest calls puzzled the editor. One instructed Makarov to replace the word “Owner” in the phrase “Owner: AlyansMediaUral Ltd.” (in the INFORMATION section of his agency’s website) with the word “Publisher”.

“The Chelnovosti.ru agency itself has been registered in a private person’s name, which is allowed under the law,” Igor Makarov said. “But there also is a firm of which the agency owner is general director. I think everybody understands the limited-liability company was established already after the news agency’s registration – for purposes of handling bank clearings related to the placement of commercial ads. Our info was posted on the website, together with a copy of the agency registration certificate, in early 2010, but for some reason Roskomnadzor took notice of it as late as September 2011. After some discussion on the phone, the lady official said unless the info was corrected shortly, they would make a representation and issue the first warning to our agency. Of course, we moved fast to correct things the way she wanted.”

“But on 14 September,” Makarov went on to say, “the sweet lady called again to tell us that our report on the death of three persons in a mass fistfight in the Chelyabinsk Region had mentioned 5 characteristics of a person, thereby violating the law on personal data protection. […] That, again, potentially meant a representation and an official warning from Roskomnadzor. […] We made appropriate corrections again – and this despite our having reprinted the relevant sentence from the website of the regional Investigative Committee. […] The original source – which is not a media outlet – had mentioned more than 5 personal characteristics but got away with it. […] This raises several questions at once. Does the Investigative Committee deliberately create this kind of ‘traps’ for the media? Has Roskomnadzor called each of the media outlets – which were quite a few – that reprinted data from the Committee’s press release? It’s for the first time in the nearly three years of our operation that we received such (alarming) calls from the oversight agency.”

Chelyabinsk Region. Story criticising ruling party erased from website

After the Magnitogorsk-based website Verstov.info published a bitingly critical story about the ruling United Russia party (URP) a week ago, fellow journalists from Magprom.ru rejoiced: “Vow, we do have some freedom of expression in the region, after all!” Their joy was did not last long: by the same afternoon the text had vanished from the site without a trace, as if it hadn’t been there, ever.

Magprom journalists called Pavel Verstov, the news portal director, to ask what had happened.

“I don’t want to talk about this,” he sighed into the receiver. “You may write it was my own decision. Or, rather, don’t write anything at all – that won’t help anyway.”

Fortunately, colleagues had been fast enough to copy Verstov’s text before it was erased, and took the liberty of publishing it on their own website.

Entitled “Why United Russia Needs Canvassers and How Much It Pays for Self-Promotion”, the story described the findings of an independent investigation conducted by a Verstov.info “plant” into the ranks of URP campaigners.

“After the first stage, the group of the ruling party’s voluntary helpers grew notably fewer in number […] mostly because of Magnitogorsk residents’ negative attitude toward the uninvited guests going round the neighbourhood,” the story said. “Our secret agent felt the degree of ‘people’s love’ of the ‘popular’ party on his own skin. Some, upon learning the purpose of the canvasser’s visit, shut the door in his face without saying a word; others snapped at him aggressively; still others simply told him to beat it…”

A few days ago, by the way, a second attack on a URP agitator circulating party leaflets was registered in Magnitorogsk.

“Canvassers are briefly instructed how to win electors’ trust, and handed memos with the main points to check with, if necessary. Each has to go round 200-250 flats, urging people to fill a five-item questionnaire. A canvasser’s task is to do everything to persuade an elector to check out the box ‘I am ready to support Governor Mikhail Yurevich and the URP’s programme during the forthcoming election.’ The section leader told our spy he would not receive any pay at all unless he returned 80, or at least 50, leaflets checked out in the governor’s support. Veteran volunteers, though, said this was only a catch giving the canvassers an incentive to work harder; but that leaflets without an elector’s name, signature and address would be left unpaid indeed. Each knock on the ‘right’ door resulting in a fully filled-out questionnaire returned to the URP headquarters would bring the agitator 22 roubles.”

After Pavel Verstov was coerced into removing this first-hand description of the tricks and intricacies of URP propaganda from his website, any talk of freedom of expression or the absence of censorship in the Chelyabinsk Region is premature to say the least.

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. “Book of Official Standards” costs regional budget 25 million roubles

By Olga Vasilyeva, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

For nearly six months now, I, a freelance reporter for the Sovetsky Sakhalin newspaper, have been trying in vain to get a reply from the regional governor and administration’s apparatus to a question that is vital to each taxpayer – how budgetary funds are disposed of. The point is that a certain Moscow-based firm has sold our regional government a “Book of Official Standards” that cost our budget, according to sources that I’ve been unable to check, 25 million roubles. The authors – visiting PR specialists from Moscow – not only were paid for the book but also had their travelling expenses reimbursed together with spending on accommodation, meals and travelling about the island. What kind of book can that be – is it made of pure gold and inlaid with diamonds?

It presents the corporate identify of our government officials – that is, the way they personally and everything they use in their everyday work should look, from the façade of their office building down to their business cards and downtown passes for their office vehicles. The style of their suits, the design of their press centres, websites, briefcases, letterheads, badges, model sets for news conferences and exhibitions, and many other things… All this diversity is proposed in several options, with mandatory VIP versions recommended to be made of gold, silver, enamel or semiprecious alloys.

The book is intended not merely for reading but for the subsequent translation of all those eye-catching designs into material decorations for the government elite that are bound to cost the taxpayers not only dozens but hundreds of millions of roubles.

Last May, I filed with the regional governor and administration’s chief of staff, Georgy Ivanov, an official inquiry asking him, in line with Article 38 of the RF Law on the Media, to provide me with information as to which firm created the Book of Official Standards for the regional government; how much it charged for the book; under which budget items the relevant allocations were made; and when those standards are supposed to be translated into reality and how much that would cost.

Three weeks later (instead of the seven-day term established under the law) I received a reply from the acting governor and administration’s chief of staff, Natalya Korshunova, saying I had asked too much, the information I wanted could only be provided to my editor-in-chief at his request. The reply cited a number of Media Law articles that, however, turned out to say nothing at all on the subject.

My second inquiry was likewise rejected, although it explained (Thanks to the GDF lawyers for consulting!) that since I have the status of a journalist and been recognised as a freelance reporter for Sovetsky Sakhalin, I therefore – in line with Article 52 of the above-mentioned law – have the right to request information on behalf of my media outlet, since it is the latter, not the editor-in-chief, who is imbued under the Media Law with the right to request information.

Sovetsky Sakhalin editor Vladimir Sorochan reported those information denials to the regional prosecutor’s office. He confirmed my journalistic status (pointing to the fact that I, a freelance author, had typed my inquiries on his newspaper’s official letterheads) and asked for measures of prosecutor response to be taken in defence of my rights. The prosecutor’s office supported the editor’s motion and made a representation to the governor to eliminate the law violations described above.

And yet, my third inquiry was rejected again. Sakhalin officials don’t seem to care much for the prosecutor’s office’s orders – especially when it comes to disclosing information about misuse of multi-million budgetary funds.

Republic of Dagestan. NTV correspondent beaten in Makhachkala

By Magomed Magomedov, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Omar Magomedov, correspondent of the NTV North Caucasus bureau for Dagestan, has been beaten in Makhachkala. The incident occurred at the crossing of Dzerzhinsky and Korkmasov Streets at about 8 p.m. on 16 September.

As Magomedov with his brother-in-law Ratmir Akhmedov were riding in a car, three young men started crossing the street through a red light. Akhmedov made a reprimand to which the men responded rudely. A high-tone verbal exchange spilled over into a fistfight that was stopped by passers-by. Magomedov was left with a cut eyebrow and his relative with a cut cheek.

“But the conflict was not over at that,” Magomedov said. “Those men with two more friends arrived at the traumatology centre where we’d turned for medical assistance, and attacked us again, breaking my nose, smashing the bridge of the nose, and giving me a concussion. I’ve already talked to an investigator. I’ll officially report the attack to the police tomorrow – today I feel too sick.”

Doctors say the TV journalist will need not only rehabilitation therapy but also reparative facial surgery.

Magomedov did report the attack on the following day, but police officers were not in a hurry to open a criminal case, waiting for independent medical examiners to present their findings. Until then, the two bullies who had started the fistfight were released.

Later that day, the Dagestan President said he would personally oversee the investigation of that case. He was outraged by the fact that “government officers’ negligence resulted in a street conflict finding its continuation inside a hospital where the NTV correspondent, who had turned for medical aid, was attacked by hooligans for the second time without hindrance,” presidential spokesman Rasul Khaibulayev said.

Kurgan. Arbitration court draws a line between commercial ads and reference information

By Valentina Pichurina, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The Kurgan Region arbitration court has confirmed the lawfulness of the 100,000-rouble fine levied by the regional department of Russia’s Antimonopoly Service (UFAS) on the city newspaper Kurgan I Kurgantsy for improper advertising.

As established by UFAS, the newspaper featured commercial ads of a business exhibition, the enrolment of students to a children’s art school, subscription to Kurgan I Kurgantsy for the second half of the year, the film show timetable at the Arbat cinema, and guest performances at the regional philharmonic house without the note “This is a commercial ad”. This, UFAS said, constituted a violation of Article 16 of the Law on Advertising, which requires the periodical press placing commercials to define them as such on a mandatory basis. The newspaper, which was charged 100,000 roubles in fine, turned to an arbitration court claiming that those were not commercial but reference information ads or else announcements made by local authorities that did not, therefore, fall under the effects of the Advertising Law.

The court, however, ruled that reference information or government announcements are basically characterised by not being intended to promote or advertise a product or service offered for sale – a characteristic clearly present in the advertisements being challenged, which bear all signs of commercial ads: they are addressed to an indefinite circle of persons and are intended to generate or maintain public interest in organisations, goods or services promoted on the market. Therefore, the fine levied by UFAS is lawful and fair, the court concluded.

Chelyabinsk. Reporters again denied accreditation

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The newspaper Chelyabinsky Rabochiy, the website Chelnovosti.ru and several other media outlets have been denied accreditation at a conference to be held in Chelyabinsk by Internal Affairs Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev.

As usual, the governor’s administration explained the denial by the fact that “the conference room is too tight to hold all, including many federal, media reporters”.

On 19 September A. Chirkova, spokeswoman for the regional Internal Affairs Department, cited a different reason: the list of reporters to be accredited had been approved by the ministry apparatus in Moscow. That caused some of the barred media outlets to file inquiries with the Internal Affairs Ministry’s press centre in the Russian capital. They are now waiting for a reply.

Under the law, accreditation shall have a notifying, not authorisation-requesting, character. A powerful newspaper with a hundred-year history like Chelyabinsky Rabochiy is sure to feel fine enough without this particular accreditation, and to outlive more than one administration, one minister and one press service – all the more so because the conference is not expected to be anything out of the ordinary: just one more working meeting. One may only wonder what they are trying so hard to conceal – the number of service caps in the cloak-room?

 

OUR PUBLICATIONS

City and district newspapers in Chelyabinsk Region required to present business plans

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The regional Department for Media Affairs and Public Communications has ruled that 35 district newspapers, which are autonomous non-profit organisations (ANO), are to present their business plans in October.

This “brilliant” idea dawned upon department officials after they visited the offices of the Kizilsky Vestnik and Zvezda newspapers in the Agapovsky district, where ANO conferences were held and the following conclusions were drawn:

“Both newspapers’ performance in the past 18 months was found satisfactory,” Media Department head Dmitry Fedechkin said. “Their economic models are fairly sustainable, and neither newspaper has debts. But their full potential is yet to be tapped. Specifically, they should make broader use of the Internet; develop alternative forms of retail sales and newspaper delivery to the readers; improve their marketing skills; launch new media products; build up reserves; and improve their logistics. Setting development targets and achieving day-by-day improvements are high priorities for any media owner interested in seeing his media outlet thrive. That’s why we decided that the ANO newspapers are to present their business plans and spell out their development programmes to our Department.”

Most journalists accepted the decision with little enthusiasm; backroom discussions have indicated the project is believed to be doomed to failure. Why? Because a successful business plan, as a rule, involves the offer of a product that would be demanded by the general public or a certain group of consumers who would want to buy it habitually.

But who can ever get interested in reading never-ending descriptions of local rulers’ routine performance – the kind of reports the district newspapers have carried for years, day after day? As a rule, at their meetings with residents, local officials only say banal things and make new promises. Reports on all that, necessarily accompanied by photo portraits of puffed-up district bosses feeling themselves tremendously important, are what the ANO newspapers have been compelled to publish. Meanwhile, Media Department officials believe if they give district newspapers budgetary funds for development purposes, the ANOs must print all that silly stuff obediently. Should any editor refuse to, he would find himself out in the street the very next day – there are scores of examples to prove this.

Actually, the majority of district newspapers remain what they used to be in Soviet times; they have not changed a bit since the 1980s. Sowing and harvesting campaigns, calving and farrowing, local leaders’ mantras, reports on conferences and United Russia primaries, cheerful success reports amidst appalling rural devastation – all that is of absolutely NO INTEREST to the readers who NEVER BUY any newspapers. If these are tossed into people’s mailboxes free of charge, well, only the weekly TV schedule would be read at the most.

The Media Department’s project is doomed from the outset also because the department itself has long since become a Soviet anachronism – a mastodon uselessly devouring budget allocations and hampering the local newspapers’ independent creative development. It has been preserved artificially, because the regional bosses fear losing control over the disclosure of undesirable information.

It is about time the regional Media Department sat down to develop a business plan for itself – if only to justify the piece of the budgetary pie it claims.

A lawyer from Perm (Volga) calls Premier Putin to Strasbourg

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Satisfied with the outcome of his dispute with Vladimir Putin and the stance adopted by the RF government apparatus, Perm-based lawyer Alexei Kolesnichenko has nevertheless been caused to complain to the European Court of Human Rights about procedural violations committed during hearings of his civil case in court.

In 2010, Kolesnichenko stood up for the Russian community of barristers which had failed to get the national law enforcement agencies repay a multi-million debt for the services of state-appointed defence lawyers. His complaint to Premier Putin about the default was received by the Russian government on 7 December 2010. Failing to get a reply within the law-established 30-day term, Kolesnichenko protested the premier’s inaction in the Leninsky district court of Perm.

By April 15, when the case was already being heard in court, S. Malusha, the government’s deputy chief of staff, had informed Kolesnichenko that his complaint had been forwarded to the General Prosecutor’s Office, Investigative Committee, Internal Affairs Ministry, Defence Ministry and the Federal Bailiffs, which message the lawyer found to be a sufficient reason to withdraw his legal claim. Judge Olga Buzmakova upheld his decision, charging from Putin in person 200 roubles in state duty and 44.45 roubles in postage.

On May 13, i.e., after the expiry of the 10-day term established for the filing of appeals, the Perm Region Justice Department challenged both charges levied on Russia’s premier. At a 6 June sitting of the Perm regional court, Natalya Mikhlyayeva, the department’s deputy head, presented a new power of attorney of May 27, issued in her name by Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov to represent the Russian government’s interests in court. The previous power of attorney of April 14, signed by Acting Justice Minister Alexander Fyodorov, turned out to contain some discrepancies, namely, “20011” instead of “2011” in the date and the non-existent “Primorskaya” instead of “Permskaya” in the name of the region.

Having heard both parties, the court of appeals reduced the penalty to 200 roubles in state duty only – and payable not by Putin but by the Federal Treasury department for the Perm Region, i.e., from the state budget. That caused Kolesnichenko to appeal to the praesidium of the regional court, pointing out that the court of appeals had disregarded his complaint about what he thought to be the “unlawful” restoration of the term for the Justice Ministry to file its appeal.

On August 18, Judge Yelena Yeliseyeva refused to accept Kolesnichenko’s appeal to the court praesidium on the grounds that “a separate ruling” had been passed on that issue, which the lawyer, however, failed to find in the case files. On September 9, the Leninsky district court handed him a certified copy of the reference list of documents pertaining to the case, which did not mention the ruling cited by Yeliseyeva.

Seeing this as a circumstance blocking his access to full justice, Kolesnichenko sent a September 11 complaint to the European Court of Human Rights claiming 500,000 roubles in moral damages. Russian officials may feel satisfied having saved Premier Putin a whole 200 roubles (approximately 7 US dollars)!

 

LETTERS

From Penza (Central Russia)

TO: Alexei Simonov

President, Glasnost Defence Foundation

Dear Mr Simonov:

We bring to your attention an appeal to the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by Sergey Vasyanin, editor-in-chief of the TV show Nashe Vremya (REN-TV in Penza). We count on your support and active assistance in protecting an independent media outlet.

Sincerely,

A. Petrushkov

Security Affairs Director, ZAO RKTV Master (network partner of REN-TV in Penza)

TO: Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev

Dear Mr President:

The region of Penza has lately become the venue of negative processes involving violations of journalist rights and freedoms. On 28 July 2011, a chain of unlawful actions by the public organisation “Perm Region Motorcycle Federation”, in which V. Satin, deputy chairman of the Penza Region government, is a “consultant on corporate disputes” and A. Makarov, deputy head of administration of the city of Penza, is president, resulted in my having to sell my share of stock in the TV-Ekspress channel, of which I am a co-founder and editor-in-chief. Since then, I have been under pressure to sell also my package of shares in ZAO RKTV Master, a partner of the REN-TV channel broadcasting to the city of Penza. High-ranking regional government officials have interfered in the negotiating process to “press” the shares out of me, trying to persuade me that the REN-Penza television channel which I am in charge of will not be given a free hand to operate in the present situation, anyway. I have been dragged into several litigations in which I am defending my right to lead independent media outlets.

Attached to this appeal are a transcript and an audio recording of my conversation with O. Sinenkov, vice-president of the Penza Region Motorcycle Federation, and V. Satin, first deputy chairman of the Penza Region government. The content of that conversation speaks for itself and confirms my suspicions regarding regional authorities’ involvement in the above-mentioned process.

Documents pertaining to the judicial disputes have been posted on the website www.tv58.ru .

I hereby ask you to interfere in this alarming situation, since I am seriously concerned about my personal integrity and the future of the independent media in the Penza Region.

Sincerely,

S. V. Vasyanin

Editor-in-chief, Nashe Vremya TV show (REN-TV in Penza)

 

From European Ombudsman magazine

Dear colleagues:

This is to inform you of a cyber attack on the European Ombudsman magazine.

A DDoS attack on the magazine’s website (http://euro-ombudsman.org) by unidentified hackers on 12 September brought our operation to a standstill, shutting down access to information not only for readers of the web version of European Ombudsman but also to the websites of the human rights ombudsmen for the Kaliningrad Region and Republic of Ingushetia, created on our magazine’s platform by the Dialog Agency for the Development of Regional Social and Legal Communications (whose site was blocked off, too) on a free basis, jointly with European Ombudsman magazine within the framework of a project to provide information support for human rights ombudsmen in Russia and its constituent entities.

According to the hosting service provider, such a massive attack was clearly intended to destroy the website. At the same time, the provider’s efforts have already yielded some positive results: 24 hours after the attack the two ombudsmen’s sites and that of the Dialog agency were unblocked, but the website of the European Ombudsman magazine remains inaccessible.

It is hard to say who might be dissatisfied with our independent magazine’s publications, or from what country the evil attack was launched; anyway, that action can be unmistakably qualified as an attempt to restrict freedom of expression.

The staff of the magazine, registered in 2008 and operating in line with the laws of the Russian Federation, hereby declares that, whatever the outcome of this incident, our team will continue working as an independent media outlet providing discussion pad for anyone concerned with respect for, and observance of, human rights in Russia.

We will do everything to resume our magazine’s operation and continue covering activities of ombudsmen in different countries with a view to integrating the ombudsmen in Russia and other ex-Soviet countries into the European community of ombudsmen to effectively defend the rights and freedoms of people in their respective countries.

The European Ombudsman magazine’s staffers appreciate the information support provided by the Memorial human rights centre and other rights organisations. Thanks to everyone supporting and approving of our activities! We hope no one will be able to restrict our right to freely hold and express our opinion.

Sincerely,

European Ombudsman magazine team

 

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.

 

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