Дайджест
11 Октября 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 586

8 October 2012

EVENT OF THE WEEK 1

Labelling a web publication “extremist”: how this is done in Oryol

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The Sovetsky district court in Oryol on 3 October held a special sitting to consider a legal claim filed by District Prosecutor V. Mironov, who asked for the website Orlec.ru to be identified as extremist.

In the course of the proceedings, the prosecutor’s office also requested banning six website materials that were suspected of featuring “extremist” content, as allegedly shown by the findings of an operative inspection carried out by the FSB. Hinting at potential political underpinnings, the prosecutors said those publications “undermined the public image of local self-governments and the RF authorities in general, and contributed to forming a sharply negative attitude toward the governments of Oryol and Oryol Region”; and that those texts “aimed to instigate readers to get involved in the movement against policies pursued by the Russian Federation and its government bodies”.

Orlec.ru’s owner Roman Molodtsov was involved in the proceedings as a third party; his interests were represented by human rights defender Dmitry Krayukhin, one of Orlec.ru’s webmasters, who told the court that the allegedly extremist texts had been posted on the website 2-3 minutes after the start of the FSB inspection and had remained accessible to the general public for only 5-7 minutes before the webmasters removed the texts from the site. Right after this, the inspection was curtailed, which as a minimum indicated, in Krayukhin’s view, that the FSB men had been informed of the would-be postings in advance.

Also, the third party’s representative pointed to what he thought to be a “falsified” protocol of an inspection carried out by officers of the regional police department’s Anti-Extremism Unit, and a forensic examiner. According to the protocol, the inspection took place on 26 April, but the appended website screenshots showed they were made as late as May. Krayukhin described this as a secret-service provocation motivated by the particular political claims spelt out in the prosecutor’s statement.

The court identified the website materials (anonymously posted on the Orlec.ru site during the FSB inspection) as extremist, but declined to satisfy the prosecutor’s claim for the site itself to be recognised as extremist, too.

EVENT OF THE WEEK 2

Head of HRW Moscow office threatened by well-informed unknown persons

Human Rights Watch on 4 October reported that Tatyana Lokshina, deputy head of the HRW office in Moscow, had repeatedly been threatened by unknown persons on the telephone.

Speaking at a news conference called specially to highlight this incident, Lokshina said she had received over the previous few days nine SMS messages directly threatening her and her unborn baby, which caused her to cancel her scheduled trip to the North Caucasus.

“It’s not for the first time that I receive threats – but this time these are unprecedentedly loathsome and disgusting,” she said. “The SMS senders wrote they were on their way to see me in Moscow and that they knew my address – not the place at which I am officially registered but the actual place where I live, which is known to just a few friends. Moreover, they said they knew the gender of my unborn baby, and details about my pregnancy, and the date of the planned departure of my husband. This signalled that they are not ordinary private individuals but persons with connections in the power circles giving them the authority and privileges to gather all that information about me.”

“This is a provocation against me not as an individual but as an official of Human Rights Watch, a position that I am not sure today I should return to after the end of my maternity leave; threats to my unborn child are causing me to think twice about it,” Lokshina said.

HRW appealed to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights Development, and the RF Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who promptly informed the rights group that the Interior Ministry’s press service acknowledged its receipt of the complaint and promised to “consider it as established under the law”, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

By a strange coincidence, no more threats came for a while after that – until they started coming to Lokshina’s colleages at the HRW office in Moscow, with Tatyana and her would-be baby mentioned in them again.

In connection with those threats, the Russian PEN Centre (Vice-President – Alexei Simonov) made public the following statement:

“Tatyana Lokshina is not only head of several human rights organisations and author of numerous rights initiatives but also a brilliant journalist and winner of the Andrei Sakharov Award ‘For Journalism as an Act of Conscience’. She is finding herself in a situation that is typical for journalists conducting independent investigations – but one multiplied by her numerous trips to the North Caucasus to act in defence of mistreated, abducted or destitute people…

“As shown by Glasnost Defence Foundation monitoring, in at least a third of all cases, attacks (on journalists) are preceded by threats. This means Tatyana is clearly in danger, and we hereby urge Russia’s law enforcement to effectively protect her right to life and physical integrity.”

 

RUSSIA

Personal data disputes persist in Moscow. See Digest 584

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Gulnara Mustafina, an ex-officer of the RF Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee turned counsel for the presidential administration’s State Service Department, has failed in soliciting administrative liability for the RIA Novosti news agency and its chief editor Svetlana Mironyuk.

Upon reading in The Moscow News (a newspaper within the RIA Novosti media holding) a story mentioning her full name and previous place of employment, the ex-investigator complained to the prosecutor’s office about what she thought to be a breach of Article 13.11 of the RF Administrative Code (“Personal data disclosure”). The prosecutors responded by opening two administrative cases – one against RIA Novosti, the other against Mironyuk; the cases originally were to be heard by a justice of the peace on 19 September but were adjourned until 3 October in view of some documents presented by the news agency as additional evidence in need of study (see Digest 584).

Significantly enough, the court sitting that was held exactly on time was not attended by any prosecutor at all, and Mustafina’s representatives refused to take the floor saying they were only attending “as ordinary onlookers”.

Lawyer Aleksandr Makarov, who defended the interests of the news agency and Mironyuk, reminded the court that Article 29 of the RF Constitution guarantees media freedom and prohibits censorship, and pointed out that the Personal Data Law, to which the prosecutor’s office referred, is not applicable in this case at all, since one’s name and position do not constitute a state secret and cannot be seen as any kind of confidential information. “Only medical data or intimate details of a person’s life can be classified,” he said, adding that Mustafina’s name and position had earlier been mentioned on different sites in the Internet.

As a result, the court closed the case “in view of no elements of administrative offence” in the newspaper or its editor’s actions.

As became known during the hearings, Mustafina had also attempted to sue the Civil Control Association for disclosing her personal data on its website. It seems the former investigator has “tasted blood” and wants the media to mention her name as frequently as possible now.

Meanwhile, a justice of the peace in Moscow’s district of Yasenevo has considered a similar claim lodged against Civil Control’s webmaster Nelly Tumakova by another presidential adviser, Sergei Dubik. The court rejected his claim, specially stressing that a government servant’s full name and official position are data in the public domain and cannot be subject to classification for “privacy protection” reasons, Gazeta.ru reported.

Court mitigates sentence to police major who killed video engineer in Yekaterinburg

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Last year’s killing of video engineer Yevgeny Ilyushchenko by police officer Pavel Miroshnikov, who was in a state of intoxication, caused broad public repercussions in Yekaterinburg. Many called the killer “the Urals version of Yevsyukov” [a hint at another drunk police officer who had gunned down about a dozen shoppers in a Moscow supermarket – Translator.] (see Digest 509).

As we have reported, Miroshnikov, 45, a major at Police Station No. 45, while being on duty, dropped in at his home in Ilyich Street for a late-night snack on 23 January. He was wearing plain clothes but had his government-issue gun on him. On the landing, he scuffled with Ilyushchenko, 30, who was having a smoke, and shot and killed him. A hospital test later showed 0.33-0.35 ppm alcohol in the police officer’s blood.

The Ordzhonikidze district court sentenced the major to 13 years in prison under Article 286.3b,c (“Abuse of one’s official position”) and Article 105.1 (“Homicide”) of the RF Criminal Code. A court of appeals later re-qualified the case as falling under Article 109.1 (“Reckless killing”), and slashed the prison term for Miroshnikov to only 5 years.

Ilyushchenko’s widow reportedly filed a counter-appeal, which the Sverdlovsk regional court turned down earlier this month on the grounds that Article 405 of the Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits courts of appeals to worsen a convict’s position by toughening once-approved sanctions.

The judiciary again turned a blind ear to vigorous public protests against its mitigating the sentence to the drunk law enforcer.

Court in Trans-Baikal Region satisfies journalist’s legal claim against Culture Ministry

By Marina Meteleva, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Central district court in Chita on 3 October held the final hearing of an honour, dignity and business reputation protection claim filed by the Trans-Baikal Culture Ministry against Zabmedia.ru journalist Ilya Barinov. After a three-hour sitting, Judge Svetlana Ivanets turned the ministry’s claim down.

The conflict flared up over Barinov’s posting on Zabmedia.ru a 23 April critical story that the Culture Ministry found “insulting and smearing”.

In the first version of its claim, the ministry demanded a disclaimer and 2 million roubles in moral damages from Barinov. Along with publishing such a disclaimer on Zabmedia.ru and in the newspaper Ekstra, the journalist was to personally apologize to the ministry specialists he had allegedly insulted. However, on 2 July the ministry reviewed its claim and demanded 700,000 roubles each from Barinov and the newspapers Ekstra-Reklama and Ekstra.

After hearing all the parties, studying the case files and rejecting all the pleas put forward by the plaintiff’s lawyers, Judge Ivanets ruled to turn the legal claim down because of the ministry’s failure to prove that its reputation had been damaged by Barinov’s critical publication.

Municipal company’s legal claim against newspaper editor turned down in Voronezh

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

After the newspaper Trud-Chernozemye published two stories criticising the VoronezhPassazhirTrans (VPT) municipal bus company, the company head Andrei Zotkin lodged a legal claim against the newspaper and its chief editor and author Yuri Pulver, demanding 50,000 roubles from each defendant to compensate for “damages to the company’s business reputation”.

The stories said, in part, that “Zotkin made all the bus drivers sign a paper expressing their voluntary consent to have their wages reduced to a minimum” and that “technical maintenance [of the bus pool] is purely formal”. Testifying in court, a former company employee confirmed that the staffers had indeed been forced to accept this unfavourable wage-payment system and that 58 drivers had complained about it to the regional administration, labour inspectorate and trade union organisations.

The regional arbitration court on 1 October ruled to reject VPT’s legal claim in full. The defendants’ interests were represented in court by Galina Arapova, director of the Voronezh-based Media Rights Defence Centre.

Trial continues over Chelyabinsk-based journalist accused of extortion

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

As the trial over Uraldaily.ru journalist Andrei Koretsky continues in Chelyabinsk, Aleksandr Korobeinikov, head of the Kasli district administration (Chelyabinsk Region), has demanded that Koretsky’s website be closed as providing “negative coverage” of both the judicial proceedings and the regional leader’s personality.

Koretsky is suspected of extorting a large sum of money from Korobeinikov – an offence punishable by up to 7 years in jail. The investigation has been dragged out for more than a year, resembling slow torture: the accused has been compelled to visit different law-enforcement authorities, provide explanations and give testimony on an almost daily basis, although the prosecutors have no evidence whatever against him, except Korobeinikov’s complaint.

“During his stay in Chelyabinsk from March 2010 through 9 February 2011, Koretsky demanded that his acquaintance Korobeinikov pay him 400,000 roubles in exchange for his refraining from publishing information that might smear the victim or seriously damage his rights and lawful interests,” the indictment says.

The journalist, for his part, insists that Korobeinikov owes him the above-mentioned amount in reward for his running the district head’s election campaign, as confirmed by a series of “positive” reports about Korobeinikov that the journalist posted on his website during the relevant period. Later, however, the tonality of his reporting changed to critical.

During a recent sitting of the Traktorozavodsky district court, a representative of the prosecutor’s office upheld Korobeinikov’s claim for the website to be closed in line with Article 11.1 (“Defence of human and civil rights and freedoms”), but the court on 4 October turned that claim down.

 

KAZAKHSTAN

Court awards government official KZT 5 million in moral damages from newspaper and its author

The West-Kazakhstani regional court’s board of appeals on 2 October confirmed the Uralsk city court’s decision to satisfy a legal claim lodged by Tlekkabyl Imashev, head of the regional Internal Policy Department, against Lukpan Akhmedyarov, a reporter for, and the founder of, the newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya (a subsidiary of Zhurnalistskaya Initsiativa Ltd.). The defendant is to pay Imashev 5 million tenge (100 tenge ~ 20, 5 roubles or US $0.66) in business reputation damages, and to publicly apologize to him.

The claim was lodged in the wake of a 2 February article that censured nepotism within the regional government. The plaintiff claimed offended by the passage reading, “Marriages are made in heaven, but they bring benefits of a very earthly nature, as confirmed by the rocketing career of Tlekkabyl Imashev, a schoolteacher of physical culture turned head of the regional Internal Policy Department. His personal qualities aside, he made all the way up to the position of the region’s chief ideologist also due to his being a relative to Kazakh ex-Premier Imangali Tasmagambetov.”

While not denying his family relationships with people at the helm, Imashev said their becoming known to the public “belittled” his personal achievements. Also, he claimed insulted by the illustration posted next to the story: “By featuring my portrait on a pack of playing cards, they offended me not only as a government official but also as a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan, since that was meant to discredit me as an honest government servant and a good citizen.”

It is to that story that Lukpan Akhmedyarov pointed to the police as a likely reason for unidentified persons’ attack on him on 19 April, after which he lay in hospital, unconscious, for three days.

In August, he won the Peter Mackler Award conferred by Reporters Sans Frontiers “on honest and courageous reporters in countries where freedom of expression is not guaranteed or not observed”. At the very same time, the Uralsk city court started new legal proceedings against him in the wake of an honour, dignity and business reputation protection claim filed by Arman Kozhakhmetov, an officer of the West-Kazakhstani regional Department for Combating Economic Crime and Corruption. The plaintiff claims 3 million tenge in moral damages from the journalist and his newspaper.

[Adil Soz Foundation report, 3 October]

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

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

Attacks on journalists – 9 (Magomed Khanmagomedov, journalist, Ploshchad Svobody newspaper, Dagestan; Andrei Novichkov, Grani.ru correspondent, Moscow; Gennady Grigoryev, journalist, Dzerzhinsk web magazine, attacked in Nizhny Novgorod; Aleksandr Nazarov, journalist, Rossiya-2 TV channel, Moscow; Aleksandra Mikheyeva, journalist, Rifei TV channel, Perm; Vassily Maksimov, photo correspondent France Press news agency, Moscow; Diego Vergas, Spanish photographer and journalist, attacked in St. Petersburg; Polina Zherebtsova, freelance journalist, Moscow – attacked in January 2012; Alina Motychenko, correspondent, Vechernyaya Moskva newspaper, Moscow).

Instances of censorship – 3 (TV Tsentr television channel, Moscow; Mayak radio station, Udmurtia; Kultura TV channel, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 3 (Valery Chekonov, editor, Amadu Altai newspaper, Republic of Altai; Ivan Moseyev, ex-editor, Buznes-Klass Arkhangelsk newspaper, Arkhangelsk; Ruslan Makarov, correspondent, Listok newspaper, Republic of Altai).

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 2 (Masha Gessen, chief editor, Vokrug Sveta magazine, Moscow; Yelena Malishevskaya, general director, Sampo TV channel, Karelia).

Detention by police (FSB, etc.) – 14 (Aleksandr Zimbovsky, freelance journalist, detained in Sverdlovsk Region; film crew of Moskva-24 TV channel, Moscow; Leonid Kovyazin, stringer, Vyatsky Nablyudatel newspaper, Kirov; Jenny Curpen, freelance journalist, Moscow – detained in May 2012; film crew, NTV channel, Volgograd; Andrei Novichkov, Grani.ru correspondent, Moscow; Yulia Shulga, Ridus news agency correspondent, Moscow; Margarita Bashilova, journalist, 39.ru news portal, Kaliningrad; Sofia Yezhova, staff member, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and stringer, Kasparov.ru news portal, Ryazan; Olga Romanova, Novaya Gazeta reporter – detained in Vladimir Region; Ruslan Makarov, correspondent, Listok newspaper, Republic of Altai; Furujama Mutinori, Japanese journalist, detained in Khabarovsk Region; Natalia Popova, accounting officer, Ura.ru news agency, Yekaterinburg; Stas Kalinichenko, blogger, Kemerovo).

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 – 3 (Ivan Moseyev, ex-editor, Biznes-Klass Arkhangelsk newspaper, Arkhangelsk; Andrei Trofimov, chief editor, Alternativnaya Gazeta newspaper, Moscow Region; Polina Zherebtsova, freelance journalist, Moscow).

Ejection of publication, etc. from its premises – 1 (Izvestia Kalmykii newspaper, Elista).

Refusals to print (or distribute) media – 2 (Izvestia Kalmykii newspaper, Elista; Oblastnaya Gazeta newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region).

Disruption of TV or radio broadcasts – 1 (Mayak radio station, Udmurtia).

Closure of media – 1 (Znamya Truda newspaper, Kaluga Region).

Withdrawal (purchase, confiscation) of print run – 1 (Vechorka newspaper, Trans-Baikal Region).

Interference with Internet publications – 1 (RBINFORM.ru, Ufa).

Confiscation of or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 6 (photo camera of Jenny Curpen, freelance journalist, Moscow – in May 2012; photo camera of Aleksandr Zimbovsky, freelance journalist – in Sverdlovsk Region; office computer of Abdulinskiye Prostory newspaper, Orenburg Region; computer of Ruslan Makarov, reporter for Listok newspaper, Republic of Altai; photo camera of Diego Vergas, Spanish photographer and journalist – in St. Petersburg; computer of Aksana Panova, chief editor, Ura.ru news agency, Yekaterinburg).

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 31.

 

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Business company director in Omsk claims 1 million roubles from newspaper for mentioning his name in a critical publication

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The head of the Mostovik construction company is claiming 1 million roubles in moral damages from the Biznes-Kurs newspaper which has reprinted a critical report from the national daily Izvestia.

The Omsk-based TRIES publishing firm is in for a new series of court hearings. Last year, Biznes-Kurs (one of its subsidiaries) had to defend against legal claims worth a total of 1.5 million roubles, lodged against it by the-then Governor, Leonid Polezhayev, who stepped down in May but remains a very influential person in the region.

This time, the 1-million-rouble claim was filed by one of the ex-governor’s close associates, Oleg Shishov, a regional MP and head of the Mostovik company, who “suffered morally” after Bizness-Kurs posted on its website Izvestia’s report about the Sochi police department starting criminal proceedings in connection with “misappropriation of 2 billion roubles through overestimation of the cost of construction of a tobogganing and bobsleighing track”. The plaintiff, though, has no claims to Izvestia because the original report did not mention his name – it only mentioned some unidentified “Mostovik managers”.

This motivation sounds odd to the local reader, who will habitually associate Mostovik with the name of its founder and main shareholder, who has run the company for 23 years now – just as anyone in Russia would associate Yukos with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s name. Commenting on Shishov’s claim, TRIES wrote, “We were guided by international journalistic norms in accordance with which a company’s top manager is identified with the company itself in all business-related matters”.

Besides, TRIES President Sergei Suslikov pointed to the fact that up until now, Mr Shishov never objected to being identified with his company: in a score of media publications about Mostovik’s important achievements, such as construction of the bridge to Russkiy Island, Olympic facilities in Sochi, etc., his own name was used instead of the company’s – “Shishov built…”, “Shishov erected…”, “Shishov got the contract for…”, and so on.

Oddly enough, Shishov claimed insulted only by the Biznes-Kurs publication, although Izvestia’s report was circulated by dozens of media, many of which mentioned not only “the Mostovik management” but him personally, too.

Local analysts agree it is not accidental that Biznes-Kurs is being targeted: the Omsk Region can boast of very few media that were bold enough to be in open opposition to the former regional leader. After retirement on pension, Leonid Polezhayev was elected head of the Spiritual Heritage Foundation, which recently established a Public Council involving the region’s biggest oligarchs, Shishov among them. The legal claim he filed looks quite logical in light of the “information war” waged in the past few months by the ex-governor’s team against the incumbent governor, Viktor Nazarov. In an interview for SuperOmsk.ru, Oksana Goncharenko, senior analyst with the Russian Centre for Current Political Situation Analysis, described today’s situation in Omsk as “a split of the regional political elite”. Aleksandr Minzhurenko, former Presidential Envoy to the Omsk Region (in 1994-2000), was even more specific in his comments for the same website, saying, “This offensive against the new regional authorities is evidently led by business groups that were loyal to the former administration; the new governor must have restricted their easy access to budgetary funds.”

 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

International conference held at Moscow’s House of Journalists

An international conference on journalists’ rights and security, hosted by Moscow’s Central House of Journalists on 1-3 October, brought together representatives of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), OSCE, UNESCO, the Russian Journalists’ Union (RJU), the Glasnost Defence Foundation, and journalistic associations in East European countries.

The conferees discussed the prospects of co-operation with EFJ; ways of defending journalists’ labour rights; the situation in the Caucasus; hurdles in journalists’ interaction with government authorities, etc.

The group of speakers included RJU President Vsevolod Bogdanov; EFJ President Arne Koenig; Adrien Collin (IFJ); Dunja Mijatovic (OSCE); Henrikas Juškievicius (UNESCO); Alexei Simonov (GDF); Galina Arapova (Voronezh-based Media Rights Defence Centre); Biyakai Magomedov (Chernovik newspaper, Dagestan); and representatives of journalistic associations in Croatia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Belarus, Ukraine, Macedonia, Armenia, Moldova and Russia.

“Russian journalists, for the first time ever, felt an urge to defend themselves against American, not Russian, authorities,” Simonov said, citing as an example the way broadcasters and website journalists at Radio Liberty’s Russian Service were mistreated.

Special attention was given to journalists’ intimidation as a method of putting pressure on the media. Based on data contained in the “Media Conflicts in Russia” database, GDF Monitoring Service Chief Boris Timoshenko cited statistics showing a growth in the number of threats preceding attacks on journalists. The forms of threats have grown more diverse, and law enforcement has been too slow in responding to journalist rights violations, thereby adding to the number of perpetrators still going unpunished.

 

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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