Дайджест
8 Июня 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 573

4 June 2012

 

STORY OF THE WEEK

Cost of word: Moscow journalist receives scull trauma and nearly twenty knife wounds

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Radio journalist Sergei Aslanyan, an observer for Radio Ekho Moskvy and an analyst for Radio Mayak, was attacked by an unknown man in Moscow late on 28 May, receiving a craniocerebral injury and about twenty knife wounds in the chest, neck and arm. He was taken to the Sklifosovsky Emergency Hospital in a serious condition and operated on, after which the doctors described his condition as satisfactory.

The attack occurred on the stairs of an apartment house in Chertanovskaya Street. “An unidentified man called Aslanyan on the cell phone and asked him to go out for a talk,” a Grani.ru source told the police. “The journalist went downstairs but found no one outside. He then went back home, and that’s where the unknown man attacked him, hitting him with a heavy object on the head and leaving him with several tangential knife wounds.”

The assailant managed to escape. The police have started legal proceedings – initially under Article 116 of the RF Criminal Code (“Beating”), but after a description of the wounds was received from the hospital, the charges were re-qualified as “Deliberate ruffianly infliction of medium-gravity bodily harm” (Article 112 of the Code). An investigation is underway, aimed to establish the attacker’s identity. Specifically, police are studying recordings made by security cameras installed inside the house. Several versions are being checked, including one linking the assault with the victim’s professional activities.

The reasons for the attack remain unclear. According to another version, Aslanyan’s speech about Islam on Radio Mayak’s 14 May “Central Committee” show may have caused some listeners to feel angry – after it, Aslanyan started to receive threatening and insulting phone calls. Also, public activists in Tatarstan have reportedly urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to check the journalist’s statements in terms of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (“Instigation to hatred, enmity, or human dignity disparagement”). To support the latter version, the attacker shouted “You don’t love Allah!” to the victim while cutting him with the knife.

Meanwhile, some clerics have condemned the assault on Aslanyan. Albir Krganov, the Mufti of Moscow and Central Russia, said no one has the right to encroach upon a human life or lynch others. “We live in a secular, law-ruled state, and anyone violating its laws turns into a criminal,” he said in an interview for the Interfax news agency.

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Court ruling shows beating a reporter is “affordable” (Yekaterinburg, Urals)

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Court hearings with broad public repercussions have completed in the wake of last year’s attack on a reporter who was taking pictures of an eatery illegally run by the Dzhavadov family in Yekaterinburg.

Despite the high public resonance – the case was taken under special control by members of the RF Public Chamber, Deputy Prosecutor General Yuri Ponomaryov, a group of prominent public activists, and the Glasnost Defence Foundation that repeatedly reported on the proceedings (for details, see Digest 543 and 553 – the sentence passed by Judge Maxim Chobitko can be called scandalous: the judge actually “pardoned” the accused, releasing them from custody with nothing stricter than minor fines.

As we have reported, the attack occurred in an eating joint in Yekaterinburg’s Aviatsionnaya Street on 22 October last year, as Sergei Avdeyev, a reporter for the newspaper Vedomosti-Ural, was photographing the place in response to readers’ complaints about the poor quality of food served there. A group of men attacked him, the journalist said, hurled him out into the street and continued to beat him until he lost conscience. He stayed for the following few months in an in-patient hospital receiving medical treatment.

The police, however, detained only three suspects – eatery owner Azad Dzhavadov, his son Mubariz, and one other relative called Mageram. Proceedings were instituted under Criminal Code Articles 161 (“Robbery involving violence”) and 116 (“Beating”). Azad Dzhavdov was later placed in a pre-trial detention centre. Mubariz and Mageram were released with written pledges not to leave town. Moreover, Azad’s son never actually made it to the felon’s dock – he was crossed out from the list of the accused.

As it turned out in February, the investigators had made very many blunders. Specifically, the prosecutor’s office registered violations in the way the charges were brought; pointed to investigators’ failure to establish the true circumstances of the robbery (the attackers stole a gold chain from the victim) and the real degree of the bodily harm inflicted on him. As a result, the case was returned for review. The defence lawyer persuaded the victim to settle the conflict “amicably” by changing his testimony for a 500,000-rouble reward, which the journalist declined to do.

Hearings of this resounding case began in the Leninsky district court in May. The prosecution insisted on real prison terms for the Dzhavadovs. But Judge Chobitko showed unseen leniency toward the assailants by sentencing Azad to only 35,000 roubles (about US $1,100), and Mageram to only 10,000 (about US $300) in fine. Moreover, he pronounced Dzhavadov Sr. eligible for exoneration (sic!) and released him right in the courtroom.

As noted by people attending the hearings, the judge seemed to be too eager to trust the testimony of Dzhavadovs’ relatives and eyewitnesses who were saying they had not seen any fistfight at all, while disregarding the reported stealth of the journalist’s property as an insufficiently proven fact. Also, the court ruling he passed failed to mention a very important aggravating circumstance – that the assault had been committed by a group of persons. The judge turned down the victim’s claim of material compensation and delegated it to a college of civil law judges.

The beaten journalist intends to challenge the district court decision before a higher-standing judicial authority, according to the Novy Region news agency. Also, his representatives will insist that an additional investigation be held so that proceedings can be started under Criminal Code Article 144 (“Interference with a journalist’s lawful professional activity”). The 2 April 2012 refusal by Senior Investigator Dyagilev of the Leninsky District Investigative Committee to institute proceedings under that article has already been cancelled as unlawful, Avdeyev’s colleagues said.

 

RUSSIA

Journalist in Yekaterinburg gets three ribs broken

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

A new scandal has broken out in the Urals capital in connection with yet another journalist attacked while doing his professional job.

Reporter Ivan Shumkov of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets-Ural was assigned by the editor on 31 May to check reports about the Kor market’s illegal seizure by raiders. Several security guards detained him near the administrative headquarters, took him aside and beat him. Preliminary reports say he was left with three broken ribs, a lung contusion, and facial bruises.

His report on the incident was registered at Police Station No. 2, regional police spokesman Valery Gorelykh told the Novy Region news agency. At the victim’s request, police officers called an ambulance which rushed Shumkov to City Hospital No. 23. Police are conducting an investigation on charges of beating (Article 116 of the RF Criminal Code); the attackers may be in for up to two years in prison.

Kor market security guards could not comment to Novy Region on this incident right after it occurred. They were heard hastily conferring among themselves on the matter as a news agency representative called them on the phone. “Here, there’s someone calling about this – what shall I say?” one of the guards was heard saying. Another one took the receiver and asked to call again later.

Tatyana Merzlyakova, the regional Human Rights Ombudswoman, took the investigation under personal control, of which she informed the regional Journalists’ Union Secretariat at its meeting on the following day.

Administration afraid of journalist? (Saratov Region, Volga)

Pavel Duksin, manager of the Saratov AntiKorr web project to combat corruption, has contributed to one of the local newspapers for senior citizens an interview with Olga Zabozlayeva, a local journalistic celebrity and member of the regional Council of Veterans, on some pressing community service issues – how to calculate tariffs, how to apply coefficients, whether or not to pay for services that have not been actually provided, etc.

Yet veterans were left without this important legal-consulting information because the said local newspaper is released as a supplement to the regional Saratovskaya Oblastnaya Gazeta, whose management did not venture to publish Duksin’s material.

Duksin cited this excerpt from a letter he received from Zabozlayeva to the newspaper Vzglyad Info:

“This is to explain why our interview did not appear in Saratovskaya Oblastnaya Gazeta,” she wrote. “The point is our regional government is so much afraid of you that it doesn’t want to see your name featured in its newspaper. The editor even called the Press Ministry asking for authorisation to publish the interview, but they ‘did not advise’ her to do that, although no one had any claims to the content. […] What is it that makes the Saratov authorities fear you as much as they do, I wonder?”

Bailiff in bullet-proof vest and with handcuffs called to attend court sentence reading in Khabarovsk

See Digests 531, 569-570

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Federal Judge E. Chernikova of the Zheleznodorozhny district court in Khabarovsk on 29 May partially satisfied a legal claim against Khabarovsky Ekspress (KE) reporters Konstantin Pronyakin and Irina Kharitonov. The plaintiff, Gen. Viktor Chechevatov, former commander of the Far Eastern military district, found the KE publication “Presidential Envoy Ishayev’s Power Tree” damaging to his honour, dignity and business reputation. As we reported, so did four other persons who filed a total of six claims (quoting the first one word for word) with the same court on the same day.

Apart from several facts that no one before him has ever attempted to disprove (since they were reprinted from publicly available, open sources), Chechevatov demanded that the authors also refute the well-known common saying, “I want to have everything – and no one to punish me for this”.

According to the defendants, the trial was held hastily and with procedural violations. The judge turned down seven pleas of the defence for no apparent reason, and started the hearings in the absence of Kharitonova, her lawyer, and the defendants’ representative. She later declined to let Kharitonova have her say during the hearing of arguments. To crown it all, she called a bailiff in a bullet-proof vest, with handcuffs and a rubber club to be present during the reading of the sentence.

The general demanded that the following two passages be disclaimed:

  • “His efforts in the building and upbringing areas have been extensive – but most importantly, he has planted a tree [a hint at the well-known maxim, “A man who has built a house, brought up a son and planted a tree did not live in vain” – Translator.]. That is not an ordinary tree. Anyone climbing it up can instantly make a wish: ‘I want everything in this world – with no one to punish me for this!’ His long-cherished dreams typically come true”, and
  • “Chechevatov, Viktor Stepanovich. Arrived in Khabarovsk from the Kiev military district with a reputation undermined by his rumoured dirty dealings in the car business. His name had not been mentioned in the Khabarovsk press until the day when 326 soldiers serving on Russkiy Island found themselves in hospital. He has supported Governor Ishayev in all of his election campaigns.”

Chechevatov claimed half a million roubles in moral damages, but the judge slashed this amount to 30,000 roubles, payable by each of the journalists. The defendants intend to appeal to the higher-standing regional court. However, they may find this difficult to do, since they were denied copies of the court protocol until the established period of time for them to voice their objections and protests expired. The journalists complained about the judge’s unlawful behaviour to the regional court chairman, the Qualifying College of Judges, and the regional Council of Judges.

Photographer in Voronezh will get compensation for violated copyright

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The regional court in Voronezh has created an important precedent by turning down an appeal by the local Federation of Aesthetical Gymnastics (FAG) against rejection of a prior legal claim they lodged in yet another attempt to prove their co-authorship in respect of some photo pictures made by photographer Alexander Denisov.

As we have reported, Denisov sued FAG members Olesya Seleznyova and Nina Tyurina for unlawfully using his photographs for purposes of popularizing their Federation. The defendants lodged a counterclaim, insisting on acknowledgement of their co-authorship. The Kominternovsky district court in Voronezh turned their claim down in February, but they protested this decision before the regional court of appeals.

During the first hearing on 24 April, Seleznyova and Tyurina claimed they had participated in the making of the disputed photos by “placing the models for posing before the camera”, meaning that Denisov had played a “purely technical, non-creative” role. This suggestion surprised the court, making one of the judges wonder why they had not made those photos themselves if the photographer’s role was as formal as they claimed…

Denisov’s representative Svetlana Kuzevanova of the Media Rights Defence Centre in Voronezh said in court that “following the defendants’ logic, one may put the makeup artists and even the owner of the photo studio on the list of co-authors, too”. By acknowledging Seleznyova and Tyurina’s co-authorship, she warned, the court might create a dangerous precedent for anyone attending a photo session to start claiming a piece of the pie. Besides, she said, a photographer’s role involves not only the shooting of images but also their processing, printing, etc.

In the course of the hearings, the parties claimed ready to settle the conflict amicably. However, Seleznyova and Tyurina demanded that Denisov withdraw his original legal claim, which condition he dismissed as unacceptable. As a result, the court of appeals continued hearing the complaint on 3 May and finally turned it down, thereby confirming the first-instance court’s decision.

“We think the court created a definitely positive precedent,” Kuzevanova commented. “While preparing our legal claim, we hadn’t found any precedents of Russian courts settling copyright disputes over photographs – unlike literary works or other copyrighted intellectual property items. This trial thus turns out to be precedent-making in the relevant area. We are glad the court upheld our arguments and acknowledged that only the photographer can be recognised as the sole author of a photo picture – due to the specifics of his profession.”

During the resumed hearings of Denisov’s first legal claim against Seleznyova and Tyurina in the Central district court in Voronezh on 29 May, the parties finally reached an amicable settlement, whereby the photographer would receive 50,000 roubles (about US $1,500) from the defendants in compensation for his violated copyright.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in May 2012

Attacks on journalists – 13 (Alexei Frolov, editor-in-chief, Roman Sivtsov, deputy editor, and Sergei Yezhov, observer – all of newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Ryazan; Grigory Nekhoroshev, deputy editor, newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno, Ivan Kolpakov, Lenta.ru correspondent, Vadim Kantor, The Moscow News correspondent, Yevgenia Mikheyeva, Grani.ru photo correspondent, Dmitry Zykov, Grani.ru correspondent, and Yevgeny Shipilov, Gazeta.ru correspondent – all attacked in Moscow; Sergei Gurkin, political observer, Delovoy Peterburg, Moscow; Askhat Nazmutdinov, freelance journalist, Perm; Nikolai Kuznetsov, journalist, Oka Info, Moscow Region; Yevgeny Titov, Novaya Gazeta journalist, Krasnodar; Sergei Aslanyan, Ekho Moskvy observer, Moscow; Ivan Shumkov, reporter, Moskovsky Komsomolets-Ural newspaper, Yekaterinburg).

Instances of censorship – 2 (Yurgan TV channel, Republic of Komi; Rossiya-24 TV channel, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 1 (Sergei Yezhov, Novaya Gazeta observer, Ryazan).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 57 (Sergei Yezhov, Novaya Gazeta observer, Ryazan; Alexander Savelyev, Lenta.ru journalist; Alexander Alyoshin, Russian News Service correspondent; Ilya Barabanov, staff member, The New Times; Alexander Chernykh, correspondent, Kommersant newspaper; Roman Popkov, Osobaya Bukva observer; Grigory Tarasevich, editor, science unit, Russkiy Reporter magazine; Ilya Krasilshchik, chief editor, Afisha magazine; Filipp Dzyadko, chief editor, Bolshoi Gorod magazine and his colleagues Alevtina Yelsukova, Yuri Ostromentsky Irina Kaliteyevskaya and Svetlana Reiter; Roman Volobuyev, deputy chief editor, GQ magazine; Ivan Davydov, Lenta.ru columnist; Ksenya Sobchak, TV anchor; Andrei Babitsky, editor, Forbes magazine; Tikhon Dzyadko, Ekho Moskvy journalist; Ksenya Batanova and Timur Olevinsky, Dozhd TV channel correspondents; Roman Osharov, Voice of America correspondent; Filipp Bakhtin, ex-editor, and Dmitry Golubovsky, current editor, Esquire magazine; Maria Lipkovich, freelance journalist; Maxim Kvasha, Kommersant correspondent; Lev Rubinstein, Grani.ru journalist; Lev Gershenzon, Yandex.novosti unit head; Alexandra Astakhova and Oleg Salmanov, Vedomosti correspondents; Arkady Babchenko, military correspondent; Alexei Belenkin, freelance journalist; Alexander Artemyev, Gazeta.ru correspondent; Sergei Minenko, staff member, The Moscow News; Alexander Ryklin, editor, Yezhednevny Zhurnal; Kevin O’Flynn, culture unit head, The Moscow Times; journalists Viktor Shenderovich, Alexander Mnatsakanyan, Karina Kabanova, Artyom Vassilyev and Yelizaveta Vassilyeva; Alina Kirillova, Dozhd TV channel correspondent; Veniamin Dmitroshkin, Grani.ru correspondent; Polina Bykhovskaya, Slon.ru correspondent; Darya Bashkirova, Kommersant-TV correspondent; Grigory Nekhoroshev, deputy editor, newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno; Georgy Ramazashvili, freelance journalist; Konstantin Smirnov, Novaya Gazeta observer, Ryazan; Maxim Blant, Newsru.com journalist, detained twice; and Kirill Mikhailov, Reggamortis1 correspondent, detained 4 times – all of them detained in Moscow; Maxim Yefimov, freelance journalist, Petrozavodsk, Karelia; Alexei Rassolov, journalist, Printsip newspaper, Moscow Region; Anton Ovcharov, freelance journalist, Moscow; Andrei Novichkov, Grani.ru correspondent, Moscow).

Refusals to provide information (including bans on use of audio recorders and video/photo cameras; refusals to provide accreditation; restrictions on admittance to official events held by government bodies, industrial enterprises or state institutions) – 21.

Threats against journalists and media – 7 (Gennady Klimov, chief editor, Karavan+Ya newspaper, Tver; Askhat Nazmutdinov, freelance journalist, Perm; Alexei Devyatkin, chief editor, LentaCom.ru news agency, Nizhny Novgorod; TV-Abaza television company, Khakassia; Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, Caucasian Knot news agency correspondent in Dagestan; Diana Khachatryan, Novaya Gazeta correspondent, Moscow; Sergei Aslanyan, Radio Ekho Moskvy observer, Moscow).

Ejection of publication, etc., from its premises – 2 (newspaper Volzhskaya Pravda, Volgograd Region; Druzhba Narodov magazine, Moscow).

Interference with Internet publications – 9 (websites of Radio Ekho Moskvy - twice, newspaper Kommersant, Dozhd TV channel, Bolshoi Gorod magazine, Slon.ru, RIA Novosti news agency; websites Rylkov-fond.ru and Dobraya Mashina Pravdy).

Issue of duplicate, i.e., rival publications – 1 (Ekho Moskvy website).

Damage to photo, video and audio apparatus and computers – 1 (video camera of Grani.ru correspondent Yevgeny Mikheyev, Moscow).

Other forms of pressure and infringement of journalists’ rights – 19.

***

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

Radio Liberty: Nine persons leave Presidential Council on Human Rights

INFOX.ru: Presidential Council on Human Rights on verge of disintegration

Civitas.ru: Amnesty International releases 50th report on human rights worldwide

Park Gagarina: GazpromBank accuses blogger of “incitement to hatred toward social group of company top managers”

Guard: Amnesty International report on human rights worldwide released

 

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Administration reshuffle in Omsk Region fails to put an end to “information war”

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Viktor Nazarov, the newly elected Omsk Governor, was inaugurated at a 30 May ceremony at the city’s drama theatre, replacing political heavyweight Leonid Polezhayev after more than 20 years at the region’s helm. The ceremony, which in legal terms was an assize sitting of the Legislative Assembly and nothing out of the ordinary, lasted a little more than an hour. Apart from administration officials and deputies of municipal and regional levels, it was attended by district administration heads, top managers of large companies, university rectors, cultural personalities (in all, 440 persons including journalists and public activists), as well as Gazprom Board Chairman Alexei Miller and GazpromNeft President Alexander Dyukov. But still more important, outgoing Governor Polezhayev was not present at the inauguration, although he had no doubt been duly invited.

Independent observers see this as a sign of Polezhayev’s rejection of the new governor or his political position described at his first news conference which, by the way, was not shown on the region’s main TV channel. The leading idea of the conference was that “Omsk residents are awaiting change”.

Elsewhere in Russia, outgoing governors, as a rule, attend their successors’ inauguration ceremonies (Yuri Luzhkov was a rare exception – he ignored Sergei Sobyanin’s inauguration), regional MP Andrei Alyokhin, leader of the Communist party faction, told the Glasnost Defence Foundation. Unless there is a scandal, this testifies – even if purely formally – to some continuity in leadership.

As he was paying tribute in his introductory speech to Omsk governors of the past hundred years, Nazarov did not mention Polezhayev’s name – for reasons that may go beyond personal offences and ambitions.

It seems the “information war” between the regional and city authorities, which has been waged for nearly two years now (as the GDF has repeatedly reported), is unlikely to end even after a full-scale government reshuffle. Attacks on Omsk ex-Mayor Viktor Schreider, who left for the State Duma in December (and whose successor is to be elected on 17 June), have continued in the regional administration’s media pool up to the present day. Schreider, though, does not intend to be as tolerant as he was during his mayoral tenure, when he could never hope to win in court against Governor Polezhayev or the media under his control. Now that the ex-governor has lost much of his former political weight, the regional judiciary is leaning ever more to MP Schreider’s side: the Kuibyshevsky district court last week satisfied his claim against the newspaper Novoye Obozreniye for “distorting” his image (by publishing photo collages featuring him, among other things, in female clothes). The court awarded him 1,200 roubles (about US $40) in moral damages, not the 1,000 roubles he had modestly claimed. But this seems to be only a beginning: the ex-mayor’s other legal claims against the critically-minded newspaper are worth a total of 1.5 million roubles.

 

Meanwhile, regional media attacked the governor-elect several times just days before his inauguration, blaming him, specifically, for his failure to go to Moscow to attend the United Russia party’s congress.

 

The regional government’s composition will be fully renewed within the next 30 days, Governor Nazarov said. Evidently, most top-ranking managers of the regional agitprop will leave, too (Pavel Pautov has already resigned as director of the region’s largest TV channel). However, the former governor is likely to retain some of the media resources – particularly web-based – since the same Pautov is the owner of OmskZdes.ru – a website reputed to be very close to Polezhayev.

 

This digest was prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation in Moscow. The digest has been issued once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.

Currently it is distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editorial board

  • Editor-in-chief, Alexei Simonov
  • Boris Timoshenko, Head of Monitoring Service;
  • Svetlana Zemskova, GDF Lawyer;
  • Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy, translator.

We welcome the promotion of our news items and articles but if you make use of any information from this digest or other GDF materials please acknowledge the source.

Contacts:

Glasnost Defence Foundation, Room 432, 4 Zubovsky Boulevard,
119992 Moscow, Russia.

Telephone/fax: +7 (495) 637-4947 and +7 (495) 637-4420
e-mail: boris@gdf.ru , or 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