30 Августа 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 580

27 August 2012



Criminal charges brought against Rostov-based journalist and blogger Sergei Reznik

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Rostov Region branch of the RF Investigative Committee has circulated a press release about criminal charges brought against a Rostov resident, 36, under Article 204.2b of the RF Criminal Code on suspicion of his giving a bribe to a government servant for performing an a priori unlawful commercial operation.

“According to investigators, the suspect on 21 August 2012, in the daytime, gave the administrator of an official motor vehicle examination station 2,000 roubles for his unlawfully writing out a certificate of his car’s good technical condition without actually examining the car,” the press release said.

Earlier, on 24 August, the regional police department circulated another press release, entitled “Prominent Corruption Fighter Attempts to Get Car Repair Certificate Unlawfully”. A check-up of the man’s identity, the release said, showed “he is (Sergei Reznik), a journalist and blogger, a staffer of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Yuzhnom Federalnom, widely known for his criticism of corrupt and other unlawful practices within law enforcement”.

“This is a third attempt during one year to start criminal proceedings against me,” Reznik told the GDF correspondent. “Last time, a complaint lodged by Southern Federal District Deputy Prosecutor Vorobyov led to an attempt to open a criminal case against me on libel charges. In the wake of one of my publications, unidentified persons started calling me on the phone to threaten my family and me personally. I began receiving SMS messages like ‘(Prisoner) Tolmachev is bored and waiting for a cellmate’; ‘Your mother will get her head cut off with a spade’, etc., and threats to have gun cartridges planted in my car, and so on. My report to the police about those threats was ignored and left unanswered. On 21 August, I called on the phone someone at a car maintenance station and asked him to get my car examined as quickly as possible. When I arrived at the station, the guy gave me a technical examination card – a filled-out one, as it turned out later – and said, ‘Here, you may start the check-up process.’ But as I got behind the wheel, my car was instantly blocked by police vehicles, and I was detained. I see it as a police provocation.”

“I don’t know yet what kind of a legal case (the police) might trump up against me,” Reznik wrote in his web blog a few months ago. Indeed, it was hard to foresee they might charge him with illegally buying a vehicle examination certificate. Funny, isn’t it? And pretty sad, too…

Journalist in Rostov Region to stay under arrest for two more months

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

At the insistence of the Rostov Region Central Investigative Department, Judge Bandovkin of the Leninsky district court has ruled for journalist Aleksandr Tolmachev to stay under arrest for two more months. The journalist has been in custody for six months already, and his defence lawyers asked the judge to release their client with a written pledge to stay in town and not try to “meddle” in the investigation process or “put pressure” on witnesses. Besides, over the months in detention, he has had an exacerbation of a chronic disease and been operated on; his full-scale post-surgery rehabilitation would be impossible in prison, the lawyers stressed. Yet their plea was turned down.

Tolmachev himself believes he is under prosecution for his criticism of the region’s law enforcement and judiciary.

As we have reported, criminal proceedings were originally instituted against a group of persons (Gologan, Morozova and Tolmachev), but Tolmachev alone was taken into custody. Meanwhile, the car they were allegedly extorting from the victim, Kozlov, was re-registered in the name of Morozova, not Tolmachev; it is Morozova who was the beneficiary under that car-sale deal. As regards Tolmachev, he represented the interests of Gologan and Morozova in court, where hearings were underway of Kozlov’s debt repayment to the company for which he had worked together with Gologan and Morozova. Shortly before the final sitting, at which a decision was to be passed, Kozlov suggested to settle the conflict amicably: he agreed to repay his debt by offering the plaintiffs his son’s car which was then re-registered (on 15 December 2011) in Morozova’s name (for details, see Digest 550 and Digest 553).

The way his defence lawyers look at it, a scheme had been devised “to catch Tolmachev red-handed” as money would be changing hands – but he did not take the money, and nevertheless he was arrested. Investigator Urazova said during the latest court sitting that Tolmachev was suspected of committing three more similar offences, so the term of his arrest needed to be extended for investigators to be able to work out the details.

The Rostov Region police department’s press service continues insisting that the criminal proceedings against Tolmachev “are not pre-ordered or politically underpinned”.

Regional newspaper editor fired in Voronezh

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The Voronezh Region administration has fired Konstantin Chaplin, editor of the regional newspaper Voronezhsky Kuryer (VK), replacing him with a former administration official.

As the owner of the newspaper, the administration acknowledged the editor was replaced at its own initiative; it cited his “inefficient management” as one of the reasons, Abireg.ru business news agency reported. Unofficial sources, though, link his sacking with a recent VK publication illustrated by a photo of a devastated building with the legend, “After the governor’s visit”, under it.

The chief editor’s vacancy went to Vassily Smolyanov, former head of the regional Press and Public Communications Department, the news agency said.

Bus company in Voronezh claims 100,000 roubles from newspaper in reputation-related damages

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The VoronezhPassazhirTrans (VPT) bus company has lodged a legal claim against the newspaper Trud-Chernozemye and its chief editor Yuli Pulver, demanding 50,000 roubles from each of the defendants in compensation for damages to its business reputation.

The claim comes in the wake of two publications, in which Pulver provided details about some aspects of the bus company’s activity that struck him as dubious.

VPT is now urging him to disclaim a passage in his story “Transport Money Kickback” that said the company’s general director, A. Zotkin, “described his firm’s financial situation as pre-bankrupt”, which VPT insists he never did, since “a state-financed enterprise cannot in principle be declared bankrupt in line with effective legislation”.

His other story “Who Maligns Mr Zotkin?” said, in part, that “Zotkin made all the drivers sign a paper expressing their voluntary consent to have their wages reduced to the minimum” and that “technical maintenance [of the bus pool] is purely formal”. The plaintiff wants these statements to be disclaimed, too.

Finding the above passages in the two publications smearing, VPT says they damaged the business reputation of both the company and its general director, and negatively affected its relationships with clients, partners and potential employees.

The first hearing was held on 20 August, the next is scheduled for 17 September. The defendants’ interests are represented in court by Galina Arapova, director and senior legal expert of the Media Rights Defence Centre in Voronezh.

Editor charged with libel in Karelia fails to appear in court to answer plaintiff’s questions

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

Karelian MP Alexander Stepanov (from the Communist party faction) is defending his honour and dignity in court against Petrozavodsk City Council member Vladimir Kaplin, who has now broken off with the Communists altogether. In an interview for the newspaper Sovet Drevlyanki (SD), Kaplin said that Stepanov, who is party secretary for ideology, has “turned the CPRF branch into his private business”, and hinted that Stepanov compiles lists of candidates for council seats for pay.

Since the legal claim was lodged, Kaplin has never appeared in court, sending an authorised representative to attend the hearings in his stead. Sovet Drevlyanki has never sent anyone to court either, although Stepanov (who has no claims to SD itself) insists that the newspaper editor or the journalist who interviewed Kaplin appear in court to give testimony. Stepanov finds it improper for the defendant and the newspaper that “belied” him to ignore the hearings, which have several times been adjourned because of their absence.

Judging by the name attached to the interview, it is a pseudonym (since no SD staffer bears such a name), so the plaintiff insists on summoning editor Natalya Zakharchuk to testify in court, which she has so far refused to do. In view of this, Stepanov intends to appeal to the Karelian branch of the Grand Jury of the RF Journalists’ Union to consider the ethical aspect of the conflict and reprimand the editor for failing to observe professional journalistic ethics. In this way, he hopes, he might get Zakharchuk to reply to the questions he would otherwise ask her in court. No one can guarantee, though, that the Ethics Council would be able to persuade the editor to meet with Stepanov personally.



Monitor of freedom of expression violations in Kazakhstan in July 2012

The Adil Soz International Freedom of Expression Foundation has published the results of its monitoring of freedom-of-expression violations in Kazakhstan in July 2012.

A total of 78 reports were registered, among them the following:

  • The period for a media outlet to apply for registration or re-registration has been reduced to 10 working days;
  • The management of the Dina trade network refused to accept the Aktobe-based newspaper Diapazon for retail sale;
  • A court of law ruled for the newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya and journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov to pay a regional administration official 5 million tenge (in moral damages);
  • A court of appeals cancelled the Ust-Kamenogorsk city court’s decision in favour of the newspaper “Flash!” and journalists Denis Danilevsky and Sergei Mikheyev.

Since this year began, 9 criminal charges have been brought against media and citizens exercising their right to free expression and unhindered gathering and imparting information, along with 46 legal claims worth a total of 4,072,030,000 tenge (100 tenge = US $0.65).

[For details, click on http://www.adilsoz.kz ]



Police in Omsk apologizes for manhandling flash-mobbers

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

After the 19 August Zombie Parade flash mob in Omsk, the editors and journalists of a number of local and federal media sent an open letter to the regional police chief, Lt.-Gen. Yuri Tomchak, to complain about “undisguised acts of arbitrariness accompanied by violence and threats of violence in respect of activists and journalists”, committed by police officers dispersing the flash-mobbers.

A video clip featuring uniformed and plain-clothed policemen cracking down on activists was posted on YouTube. Specifically, it showed police officers detaining Mikhail Yakovlev, the alleged organizer of the “unauthorised action”, although a flash mob, just as any other mass non-political cultural event, did not require any official authorisation. Moreover, one day earlier, Yakovlev had explicitly written in the VKontakte social network he had nothing at all to do with the planned action. On 19 August, he came to the Irtyshskaya Embankment as a correspondent for the MetrOmsk civil journalism agency to report on a peaceful march and a theatrical show being held there.

While video-recording his detention, Dmitry Pozechko, a freelance reporter for the newspaper Svobodnaya Rech, faced an outburst of gangster-like aggression on the part of a man in a blue jacket who looked very much like Lt.-Col. Viktor Galkin, acting chief of the Omsk police. Pozechko was recording him and several other police officers dragging Yakovlev out of his car and starting to search him in the absence of witnesses, when the man resembling Galkin jumped at him, swearing badly; he yelled at him “to beat it” and threatened to “smash this camera” against his head.

Human rights defenders and lawyers saw this as an offence falling under Article 119 (“Threat of violence or infliction of grievous bodily harm”) and Article 114 (“Interference with a journalist’s lawful professional activities”) of the RF Criminal Code. They urged the regional police command, prosecutor’s office and Investigative Committee to “investigate the 19 August incident without delay and bring the police officers involved to justice”. The open letter was signed by editors and journalists of the OmskPress, RIA Novosti and DO-Info news agencies; the Komsomolskaya Pravda v Omske newspaper; the Omsky Veteran and SuperOmsk news websites; a Novaya Gazeta correspondent and other media workers – more than 20 in all.

The Omsk police promptly reacted to the journalists’ letter and called an emergency briefing on 23 August, attended by several high-ranking police officers, including Galkin; the latter apologized for his unseemly behaviour during the street action to all attending journalists and offered to personally present his apologies to Dmitry Pozechko and Mikhail Yakovlev who were absent during the briefing.



PDI Siberia selects projects for nationwide contest of investigative journalists

Press Development Institute Siberia has finished accepting project proposals for competition within the framework of the “New Media for a New Society” project which involves journalists conducting public and independent investigations.

After the first two rounds, having considered a total of 52 proposals from 21 regions all across Russia, the Jury selected 19 project proposals from journalists in 12 regions, from Kaliningrad to Krasnoyarsk, with whose authors PDI Siberia will conclude agreements for the provision of methodological and consulting support.

All the projects aim to highlight law and human rights violations deserving public attention. The subject matter of would-be investigations is diverse: ecological law violations and concealment of socially significant information; corruption and conflict of interest attending the implementation of government-financed task programmes; corrupt practices within law enforcement, health care and education; monopolistic grip on utility services; lack of transparency in the distribution of government grants for NGOs; affiliation of power and business; the gap between government officials’ incomes and expenditures, etc.

Listed below are the selectees and themes of their proposed investigations:

  • Vladimir Alekseytsev (Novosibirsk Region) – “Aftermath of Radioactive Contamination of Parts of Novosibirsk Region”;
  • Sergei Andreyev (Altai Region) – “Destruction of Berd River Head: Consequences”;
  • Nailya Biktimirova (Republic of Tatarstan) – “Law Violations by Municipal and State Officials Leading to Mass-Scale Destruction of Greenery in Kazan”;
  • Svetlana Voronkova (Novosibirsk Region) – “Deliberate Bankruptcies of Large Companies: ZAO Termofor Case Study”;
  • Tatyana Vorontsova (St. Petersburg) – “Why Are Hazardous Product Recycling Systems Unworkable in Russia?”
  • Olga Gnezdilova (Voronezh Region) – “Why Are Kindergartens Inaccessible to Children in Voronezh Region?”
  • Ilya Grinberg (Krasnoyarsk Region) – “Abuses by Krasnoyarsk Region Forensic Medical Examiners Providing Services for Pay”;
  • Svetlana Gushchina (Perm Region) – “Use of Administrative Leverage in Pressing City of Tchaikovsky’s Sole Independent Management Company Out of Housing and Community Services Market”;
  • Aleksandr Zotin (Perm Region) – “Consequences of Perm Community Service Companies’ Affiliation with Government Authorities and Local Self-Governments”;
  • Victoria Kashinskaya (Kaliningrad Region) – “Corruption and Conflict of Interest Attending Implementation of ‘Amber Russia’ Government Task Programme”;
  • Dmitry Kizyanov (Republic of Adygea) – “Disabled People Exercising Right to (Subsidised) Housing: Problems and Hurdles”;
  • Olga Loskutova (Perm Region) – “Felling Forests: When Is This Deemed Unlawful?”
  • Yevgeny Mitrofanov (Novosibirsk Region) – “State and Municipal Officials’ Expenditures Measured Against Incomes”;
  • Yevgeny Semenikhin (Altai Region) – “How To Make Distribution of Grants for Altai NGOs and Media Transparent”;
  • Tatyana Sergeyeva (Perm Region) – “Substandard Pork Sold to Berezniki Residents as Quality Meat”;
  • Anna Smirnova (Perm Region) – “Consumer Rights Violations in Perm Region’s Food Supermarkets”;
  • Viktor Smirnov (Kemerovo Region) – “Establishment of ‘Pocket’ Management Companies and Condominiums As a Means of ‘Legal’ Peculation of Novokuznetsk Residents’ Payments for Utility Services”;
  • Yulia Shevtsova (Kirov Region) – “Law Enforcement and Judiciary Flaws Protecting VIPs from Legal Liability”;
  • Roman Yushkov (Perm Region) – “Platoshino Villagers in Perm Region Catch Severe Enteric Infection Through Contaminated Tap Water”.

Projects will be implemented privately in the “Investigations” section of the relevant website in the Taktaktak.ru human rights social network. Members of investigative teams will be invited to attend actual and online training sessions to regularly receive specialist consulting and professional advice from more experienced colleagues. At the end of the investigation, each journalistic text will be checked by professional lawyers for potential legal flaws prior to publication.

The authors of the resulting publications will compete among themselves, and nominees for the main prize will be invited to attend inter-regional expertise-sharing conferences in May 2013 and November 2014.

Apart from PDI Siberia, the “New Media for a New Society” project is co-sponsored by the Journalistic Investigations Agency (St. Petersburg), the Regional Press Support Foundation (Moscow), the Media Rights Defence Centre (Voronezh), the Journalistic Technology Centre (Nizhny Novgorod) and the Perm Region branch of the RF Journalists’ Union, with assistance from the European Union and Internews Network.


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.


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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