21 Декабря 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 596

17 December 2012


Special conference in Moscow on lack of protections for journalists: Who’s guilty and what’s to be done?

A special conference to discuss ways of strengthening journalist security was organised by the RF Presidential Council on Human Rights in Moscow on 14 December.

The meeting was expected to bring together such high-ranking representatives as Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev; Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika; Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev; Investigative Committee Chief Aleksandr Bastrykin; UNESCO Assistant Director-General Janis Karklins; RF Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin; Moscow Bar Association Chairman Henry Reznik; RF Journalists’ Union President Vsevolod Bogdanov; Glasnost Defence Foundation President Alexei Simonov, and others.

The agenda included debates over how to end impunity for perpetrators of crime, and working out recommendations on improving legislation and law-application practices. Specifically, the conferees were scheduled to discuss law enforcement and human rights group data on measures to tighten journalist security; the findings of official probes into crimes against journalists; and specifics of applying Article 144 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits interference with journalists’ lawful professional activities.

Instead, the attendees focused on the protest march to be held in Moscow on 15 December. As it turned out, one day before a deputy mayor had spent two and a half hours over tea with Presidential Council representative Nikolai Svanidze without ever letting him try settling the differences between the human rights activists and the city administration disallowing the planned march.

Besides, instead of the top law enforcement officials invited to attend the conference, second-rank generals from the number of their deputies had come to read out pre-written addresses but fail to answer urgent questions from the audience. They did not go beyond angry remarks in response to analysts’ queries, thus turning the conference into a totally meaningless event.

Interior Minister Kolokoltsev, according to the general who stood proxy for him, was in Kabardino-Balkaria at the time of the conference, personally taking part in an operation to detain suspected killers of Kazbek Gekkiyev. However, as it turned out soon, during his stay in Nalchik the minister had only announced the identification of one more person suspected of involvement in the reporter’s killing and ordered additional security measures to be taken on the premises of the republic’s TV/radio company.

The meeting began at noon and was due to close at 4 p.m. However, by 4.30 p.m., when the GDF correspondent was leaving, a proposed agreement on closer interaction between the Presidential Council and the Interior Ministry had been neither signed nor even read out…



Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” handed for 12th time

Moscow’s Central House of Journalists on 15 December hosted a ceremony to present this year’s Andrei Sakharov Awards “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”, which are conferred on journalists for publications reflecting the authors’ active life stands consistently translated into their highly professional work, and for defending the values Dr. Andrei D. Sakharov used to defend during his lifetime.

In different years, the group of contestants and jury members included people deemed to be the pride of Russian journalism, among them Elvira Goryukhina, Anna Politkovskaya, Galina Kovalskaya, Otto Latsis, Dmitry Furman and others.

The 12th A. Sakharov competition this year attracted about a hundred journalists from dozens of Russian regions – from Kursk to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and from Makhachkala to Yakutsk. At its summary session, the Jury selected thirteen authors whose works it had found the most impressive, including writings by Viktor Bulavintsev (Dalnevostochniye Vedomosti newspaper, Vladivostok); Igor Averkiyev (Civil Chamber news website, Perm); Roman Khakhalin (Park Gagarina web publication, Samara); Lev Rubinstein (Grani.ru, Moscow); Natalia Fonina (Arsenyevskiye Vesti newspaper, Vladivostok); Polina Zherebtsova, Slovo Bez Granits web publication, Helsinki); Igor Korolkov (Sovershenno Sekretno newspaper, Moscow); and Khadzhimurat Kamalov (Chernovik newspaper, Makhachkala).

At the next stage, five nominees for the main award were selected, including Roman Anin (Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Moscow); Olga Bobrova (Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Moscow); Nigina Beroyeva, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Moscow); Yelena Vlasenko (Radio Liberty website, Moscow); and Olga Bobrova (Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Moscow).

After further discussion and an additional vote, it turned out the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Award goes to Viktor Shostko.

The final session involved not only the Jury members present in Moscow, among them Alexei Simonov, GDF president and Jury chairman; Alexei Pankin, chief editor, Publishing Business Strategy & Praxis, Ifra-GIPP Magazin); Yuri Samodurov, senior researcher, State Centre of Contemporary Art; Igor Naidyonov, Russky Reporter magazine special correspondent and winner of 2005 Andrei Sakharov Award; Boris Dubin, sociologist, Levada Centre; Gregory White, head of The Wall Street Journal Moscow office; Susanne Scholl, freelance journalist, Austria; and Vladimir Voronov, Sovershenno Sekretno columnist and winner of 2010 Andrei Sakharov Award. Taking part in the voting by e-mail were Miyasat Muslimova, assistant professor, State University of Dagestan, Russian Language and Literature Methods of Teaching Department – in Makhachkala, Dagestan; Pilar Bonet, El Pais correspondent – in Washington, D.C.; Tatyana Sedykh, Moyo Poberezhye newspaper editor and winner of 2009 Andrei Sakharov Award – in Vanino, Khabarovsk Region; Samuil Lurye, Full Member of the Academy of Modern Russian Literature – in St. Petersburg; Yuri Chernyshov, Bogatey newspaper columnist – in Saratov; and Georgy Borodyansky, Novaya Gazeta correspondent and winner of 2011 Andrei Sakharov Award – in Omsk, Siberia.

All the finalists received honorary diplomas; the nominees and laureate – diplomas and monetary prizes. Also, diplomas were awarded to the media outlets that published the works of the winner and nominees – the newspapers Krestyanin (Rostov-on-Don), Novaya Gazeta (Moscow) and Komsomolskaya Pravda (Moscow), and the Radio Liberty website (Moscow).

This year’s award-presentation ceremony was held on the day of remembrance of the journalists killed while doing their professional work, among them Chernovik editor Khadzhimurad Kamalov, who was posthumously honoured with the Jury’s special diploma “For Lifetime Devotion to Journalism”.



Suspected killers of Kazbek Gekkiyev named in Kabardino-Balkaria

By Natalia Yusupova, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Two suspects have been identified in the murder case of the “Kabardino-Balkaria” State TV/Radio Company’s newscaster Kazbek Gekkiyev.

The first one’s name was announced five days after the journalist’s killing, on 10 December, when the RF Investigative Committee posted on its website a report saying Zeitun Boziyev, 30, of Nalchik, a member of an illegal armed group operating in the Kabardian capital, was suspected of having a hand in Gekkiyev’s murder as well as in several other crimes – in the killing of two district police officers and a traffic police inspector, and in an attempt on the lives of several army servicemen and yet another police officer. Ballistic evidence shows Gekkiyev and the above-mentioned victims were shot at with one and the same gun. The police are taking steps to track down and detain Boziyev, the report said.

Four days later, the Investigative Committee named another suspect: Inoyat Tabukhov, 24, identified on the basis of recordings made by security cameras along the alleged route of the killers’ escape. Also, it is known that criminal proceedings were started in Kabardino-Balkaria in connection with Tabukhov’s disappearance last June. The investigators figure it is about that time that the young man may have joined an outlawed armed group. Currently he is wanted by the police.

Russia’s Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev visited the TV centre in Nalchik on 14 December to name the second suspect and order measures to safeguard TV/radio journalists’ integrity. He pledged to the TV company management the law enforcers would solve Gekkiyev’s murder soon.

As we have reported, Kazbek Gekkiyev was gunned down in Nalchik late on 5 December as he was returning home after an evening TV newscast. The main version being checked by police links the killing with his professional work (see Digest 595).


Omsk ex-governor’s associates claim another 2 million roubles in moral damages from TRIES Publishers’

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Oktyabrsky district court in Omsk has ruled for the TRIES publishing house to pay Oleg Shishov, a regional MP and head of the Mostovik construction company, 35,000 roubles to compensate for the moral damage inflicted on him by a Biznes-Kurs weekly (BK) publication that alleged his involvement in a scheme to rob the state budget of 2 billion roubles.

Originally, the plaintiff claimed 1 million in moral damages, although the publication only reprinted a report from the newspaper Izvestia that said the Sochi police department had charged him with an attempt to “misappropriate a large amount of money through overestimating the cost of construction of a tobogganing and bobsleighing track” (for details, see Digest 594).

Shishov did not lodge any legal claim against Izvestia because it had not called him by name, while only referring to some anonymous “Mostovik managers”; Biznes-Kurs, in contrast, had featured his name in bold letters in the headline. As noted in court by the defendant’s representative, Shishov has led the company since the day of its establishment in 1989 and, as its general director, he has been “the company’s one-man executive body” – an argument that the court evidently agreed with, while still not relieving BK of the legal liability for mentioning Shishov’s name. (“What’s so secret about it?” one may wonder.)

Meanwhile, two more legal claims, each worth 1 million roubles, have been lodged against TRIES Publishers’ – one of them by Oleg Shishov again, who challenges a story carried by the newspaper Vash Oreol (VO) in October – “How to Steal Party Asphalt” – which said many residential area driveways in Omsk that were to be repaired by Mostovik in line with the United Russia Party programme, have only been “paved” on paper. The second claim was filed by Vadim Tsygankov, head of the Kalachinsk district administration, who frowned at VO’s suggestion he has combined his district leader’s role with that of a successful businessman. According to the newspaper, this fact has been confirmed by the district prosecutor’s office and the Kalachinsk city court, which required Tsygankov to resign as a co-owner of several business firms. Tsygankov himself, in an interview for the same newspaper, acknowledged his “being in good with Shishov”, who, according to VO sources, had done a lot to push Tsygankov through into his current office. Worthy of noting is the very short – 3-day – interval between the filing of claims against TRIES by the two officials.

Both are seen as close associates of ex-Governor Leonid Polezhayev, who resigned last May, taking over as head of Dukhovnoye Naslediye, a group positioning itself as a “charity fund”, whose Public Council involves some of the Omsk Region’s largest business owners, Shishov among them. Tsygankov reaffirmed his allegiance to his outgoing boss by speaking highly of Polezhayev’s contribution to the region’s development and improvement of residents’ living standards (see Omskaya Pravda of 1 May 2012).

Polezhayev himself, too, has had strained relations with TRIES, lodging against it in late 2011 a whole three claims for a total of 1.5 million roubles in moral damages from the publishing house. A court of law, though, slashed that amount to only 90,000 roubles (see Digest 542).


Reporter ousted from Communist Party conference in Khabarovsk Region

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

At the opening of the 41st conference of the Khabarovsk Region Communist Party Committee, which was to hear reports and elect a new regional party leader after the death in May of the previous leader, Anatoly Dronchenko, a scandal broke out: a reporter for the independent newspaper Khabarovsky Ekspress was expelled from the conference room on the pretext that it was a “closed” event. Security guards threatened to drive him out by force, unless he left voluntarily.

No journalists had been accredited beforehand, and only “party members and invited guests” were allowed to register.

Neither the show of his press card helped the reporter stay inside nor his happening to sit next to Sergei Shtogrin, a RF State Duma deputy representing Khabarovsk and the Jewish Autonomous Region; the MP preferred to stay away from the conflict, pretending not to see or hear anything...

It may as well be noted that a similar conference of the regional Political Council of the United Russia Party had been held in Khabarovsk three days earlier, electing a local party leader in an atmosphere of openness and in the presence of reporters regardless of their party affiliation or the political stands of the media they represented.


District newspaper editor in Rostov Region tries to prove in court he was fired unlawfully

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Six candidates vied hard in the race for the Kashary district leader’s office in the Rostov Region in September, with two of them coming to grips at the end and one, United Russia Party nominee Ivan Falynskov, deputy head of administration of the neighbouring Verkhnedonskoy district, finally taking the upper hand over his Communist rival.

Yuri Pasikov, editor of the district newspaper Slava Trudu, provided well-balanced campaign coverage without bias toward any of the candidates, as prescribed by law. He managed his staff efficiently, and the newspaper enjoyed a high degree of popularity. Small wonder therefore that the new district head decided against following the established tradition (of sacking editors appointed by the previous administrations); he let the editor retain his post, of which the administration’s chief of staff duly notified Pasikov.

Since the editor’s contract had expired by that time, he wrote an application to have it extended, left it on the secretary’s desk, and returned to his work on the newspaper. He had just signed a fresh issue for printing when an administration clerk called him on the phone to say he would nevertheless have to leave, since “someone is unwilling to work with you”, and that a Kashary district newspaper’s staffer, Mr. Savostikov, would take over as editor in his stead.

Pasikov lodged a legal claim asking for reinstatement in view of his having already restarted to work as editor and his having prepared and signed a regular new issue of Slava Trudu. Testifying in court, his successor Savostikov threw light on who it actually was who was “unwilling to work” with Pasikov. On the day of the fresh number’s release, he said, District Council Chairman Udovitsky had called him on the phone to ask who was signing the newspaper for printing and who had been appointed chief editor. Upon hearing Pasikov’s name, Udovitsky said a resolute “no”: the editor had repeatedly criticised him on his newspaper’s pages, for which reason Udovitsky said he would go as far as it might take him to persuade the district administration “to get that editor replaced”.

The next hearing of Pasikov’s claim is scheduled for 19 December. The Glasnost Defence Foundation will closely follow the developments in the Rostov Region.



Some statistics cited

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

Novaya Gazeta: Judge them by their deeds

Komsomolskaya Pravda: Komsomolskaya special reporter receives Sakharov Award

Caucasian Knot: In Moscow, Khadzhimurad Kamalov posthumously honoured with Sakharov AwardFor a Life Given to Journalism

Civitas.Ru: Karelian Legislative Assembly official tries on “press regulator” role

Moskovsky Komsomolets: Defence against glasnost

Novaya Gazeta: Aigul corrects Supreme Court



Special CPJ report on imprisoned journalists published

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on 11 December released a special report titled “Number of Jailed Journalists Sets Global Record”.

“The worldwide tally reaches the highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990…Turkey is the world’s worst jailer,” the report said.

Imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, driven in part by the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offences against critical reporters and editors, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 232 individuals behind bars on December 1, including 49 in Turkey, where “the authorities held dozens of Kurdish reporters and editors on terror-related charges and a number of other journalists on charges of involvement in anti-government plots,” CPJ said.

“Iran, the second-worst jailer with 45 behind bars, has sustained a crackdown that began after the disputed 2009 presidential election… China, the third-worst jailer, has made extensive use of anti-state charges to jail online writers expressing dissident political views and journalists covering ethnic minority groups. Nineteen of the 32 journalists held in China are Tibetans or Uighurs imprisoned for documenting ethnic tensions,” the report said.

Eritrea ranks fourth with 28 jailed journalists; it is followed by Syria, where government troops held at least 15 journalists; Vietnam (14 journalists behind bars); Azerbaijan (9 detainees), Ethiopia (6 detainees), and Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia (each with 4 journalists in prison).

“CPJ’s list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2012. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year,” the CPJ analysts noted.



Dear colleagues:

My name is Marina and I am a correspondent for a private independent newspaper in Lesnoi, a small closed city in the Urals Federal District.

I don’t know where to turn for help now, since I never came across problems of this kind in the past.

After I published a series of articles criticising our mayor recently, the authorities decided to put pressure on me via my parents, since I have no husband or children. Approaching me through some third parties, they gave it to be understood that, unless I “calmed down”, they would get my mother fired. Also, they hinted at a possible threat to my own physical integrity. Administration officials have refused to come to our newspaper office, although I’ve invited them to come and talk things over. They prefer to stay in contact with me informally, which is out of the question for me, as you understand. Naturally, I can’t supply any material evidence in support of the facts I am citing here, since no recordings are available, and no official administration appeals to my newspaper management have ever been made.

What am I to do in this situation? How can I protect my family and myself? Honestly, I am scared. My chief editor is fully on my side and supports me, but can he really guarantee anything except his solidarity? A group of persons who contributed to one of our publications are evidently under pressure too, since they are distancing themselves from our newspaper now and taking pains to express their support for the city head…


GDF digest editor’s comment:

GDF specialists have already advised the author what to do. Readers who have found themselves in similar circumstances are welcome to share their experience.


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