Дайджест
13 Июня 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 618

10 June 2013

 

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Action in memory of Larissa Yudina held in Elista, Kalmykia

Larissa Yudina, chief editor of the newspaper Sovetskaya Kalmykia (SK), was shot and killed in Elista 15 years ago.

Prior to that, many attempts had been made to destroy the independent newspaper: its office was repeatedly raided; staffers were ejected from their premises; service providers refused to print and distribute the newspaper; the editor was unlawfully fired, threatened and assaulted, and unknown villains tried to set her home on fire. All those actions had been in vain: Sovetskaya Kalmykia remained in opposition to the authorities. Then Yudina was gunned down. Her killers were tracked down shortly (a rare occurrence in Russia!), sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment and never released despite repeated attempts to get them out of jail. But the masterminds of Yudina’s murder were not identified; police didn’t really try to find them.

An action to mark the anniversary of Larissa Yudina’s death was staged in Elista on 7 June. The Glasnost Defence Foundation sent the organisers a telegram reading as follows:

“We are sending our friendly greetings and condolences to everyone who comes on this sorrowful day to pay tribute to Larissa’s memory. Fifteen years ago, a group of well-known rogues who’ve never been convicted told other rogues, who did go to jail later, to erase Larissa Yudina’s name from the republic’s history. Nothing came out of that. They wanted to kill the newspaper and even memories about it along with the editor – but they failed to. Those of them who are behind bars are already seeking to be released, and those who managed to get away with impunity are still trembling with fear before their own memories, because there is Yudina’s newspaper, there will be a street named after Yudina, and Yudina’s friends have come to commemorate her on the 15th anniversary of her death. Live long, comrades, and remember that remarkable woman for the rest of your lives!”

The Yabloko Party “has pressed for an honest investigation of Yudina’s ruthless murder since 1998,” its leader Sergei Mitrokhin said addressing action participants. He called Larissa “a courageous journalist and a person who opposed [the-then President Kirsan] Ilyumzhinov’s administrative machine virtually single-handed”. A letter of condolences from the staff of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the above GDF telegram were read out.

Toward the end of the rally, activists adopted a resolution urging the authorities to resume the investigation of Yudina’s murder and to identify its masterminds.

On the same day, the City Assembly in Elista decided to name one of the city’s new streets after Larissa Yudina.

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

“Patriots” propose rewriting Russia’s history

The Youth Public Chamber in Moscow has prepared a draft law on bringing people up in the spirit of patriotism. The bill proposes adding to the school curricula “Courage Lessons” commemorating national heroes; taking veterans under young people’s patronage; forming teams of young archaeologists in schools; making history tests a mandatory part of the high-school graduation exams, etc. – nothing new, one may say, as compared to Soviet-era school curricula…

But the “patriotic” bill also affects the media: its authors, among them Stanislav Neverov, are calling for criminal – or at least administrative – liability for chief editors “falsifying” Russia’s history. The “accuracy” of interpreting some or other historical events is “easy to check”, according to Neverov, who explained that “a single history textbook for schools is being prepared”, setting “some kind of standards to underlie history’s interpretation”.

He would see to it “we don’t have any censorship”, Neverov said, adding that if enacted, the proposed law would “provide for the allocation of sufficient funds from the regional and federal budgets for the promotion of patriotic upbringing” which today is “heavily underfinanced”, in his view.

As regards funding, everything seems clear enough – unlike promises to “avoid” censorship that sound really utopian.

Moreover, considering the Russian authorities’ age-old eagerness to rewrite Russian history to please “the man at the top”, attempts to rule out historical falsification may produce the opposite effect – distortion of history.

The draft is still in the works and is to be submitted to the State Duma for scrutiny at the end of this year. Media editors should perhaps renew their stocks of history textbooks by that time – not to become rivals to “history falsifiers”.

 

RUSSIA

Yet another information service provider for the government accused of fraud in Yakutia

By Natalya Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The case of Igor Grishchenko, former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets v Yakutii (MKY), has gone all the way to court. The journalist was detained two years ago – allegedly while extorting from the chief spokesman of Yakutia’s Supreme Court 240,000 roubles in reward for not publishing a series of articles criticising the local judiciary.

Addressing a news conference shortly after the suspect’s arrest, Supreme Court Deputy Chairman Pyotr Pronin said that in the wake of an MKY publication criticising Supreme Court Chairwoman Lyudmila Goreva, the court’s press service had contacted Grishchenko about publishing a response. The editor suggested his newspaper should be contracted for the provision of information services to the court for 240,000 roubles. The judges declined to sign the cooperation agreement; instead, some secret services stepped in to “work on” Grishchenko, as reported by MKY back in July 2011. No details were disclosed as to which particular secret services had started “working on” the editor, or why.

On 5 July 2011, Grishchenko met with a certain middleman to receive the above-mentioned sum from him. As the money was changing hands, the journalist was detained by police and placed under house arrest, with criminal charges brought against him. Finally, on 5 June this year an official of Yakutia’s Investigative Committee said the investigation was over and a court of law would now decide whether Grishchenko was indeed guilty of extortion or if someone had set him up.

Whatever the trial’s outcome, we are again being shown how dangerous it is to negotiate the provision of information services for the authorities: a journalist may be labelled “extortionist” or “fraudster”, or suddenly find himself involved in some other criminal affair.

Journalists unlawfully detained in Stavropol hospital

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Preparing a TV report about a group of school-leavers with alleged health problems, who had brilliantly passed a graduation exam ahead of their peers, reporter Olga Skabeyeva and cameraman Andrei Melnikov – members of a Stavropolye TV/Radio Company film crew –arrived at the Filippsky Children’s Hospital in Stavropol to show their press cards and be admitted inside.

They had hardly made a few steps along the corridor when Chief Physician Vyacheslav Kashnikov told security guards to detain the journalists and seize their documents and a mobile phone that was later found in a bucket filled with water. The reporters called the police.

The crew members were illegally detained at the hospital for an hour and a half until district prosecutors and officers of the regional police department arrived – but they were not let in, either, on orders from the chief physician again. It was not until a quick-response police unit came to their help that the law enforcers were allowed to come inside.

In connection with this incident, administrative charges were brought against Vyacheslav Kashnikov for not obeying a prosecutor’s lawful orders; similar charges were lodged also against three employees of the VIP Grand private security firm, who had blocked the hospital entrance. After the Stavropol mayor received a prosecutorial representation regarding the conflict, he ordered Kashnikov’s dismissal.

The “lucky” school-leavers who scored the maximum possible number of points in a graduation test they took earlier than scheduled because each showed a certificate from Olga Glushenkova, Head of Neurology at the Filippsky Children’s Hospital, have all turned out to be children of high-ranking Stavropol officials, including a deputy chief of the regional Migration Service Department, a former deputy mayor of Stavropol, a City Duma deputy, and some prominent physicians and attorneys. It was Kashnikov’s failure to present the medical histories of seven school-leavers to the prosecutor’s office in due time that caused the prosecutors to look at his hospital’s performance at close quarters.

Kubana Festival organisers in Krasnodar Region claim censors’ role

By Georgy Tashmatov, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Journalists’ accreditation for the coverage of the Kubana Festival, which is to be held near the spa resort of Anapa for the fifth year running, has proceeded with numerous violations of the RF Media Law, as can be gathered from the accreditation rules posted on the festival’s official website. For example, to obtain accreditation, media outlets are required to carry festival ads as a “must”, which actually means the organisers want their advertisements to be published free of charge, which is strictly prohibited by law. Another breach of the Media Law provisions is the mandatory requirement for journalists to “coordinate” their future reports about the festival with the Kubana press service – a practice that is tantamount to constitutionally-banned preliminary censorship.

When filling out an accreditation application, a journalist is required to specify his passport number and series, the size of his media outlet’s audience as well as the circulation of his publication or the daily number of visitors to his news website and the link to his web page, if any. Such requirements are “excessive and unlawful”, analysts say.

“Those showbiz guys must be hoping this kind of application form will secure them a priori positive coverage and praises from print and online media,” GDF President Alexei Simonov commented.

Kubana organisers’ stiff requirements to the press are hardly surprising: the festival has repeatedly in its brief history come under criticism from local residents for “alcoholising youth and propagating unhealthy modes of living”. The organisers’ decision to shut the door to independent reporters indirectly testifies to their desire to conceal the true essence of this purely commercial project: a VIP ticket to the festival costs more than 70,000 roubles…

 

Rostov Region journalist Sergey Reznik has only three days to read his case files

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Investigative Committee has asked the Leninsky district court in Rostov to limit the file-reading time for journalist Sergey Reznik, who is facing charges under three Criminal Code articles at once, to only one day. The “kind-hearted” judges offered the accused a whole three days (sic!) to finish reading the case files.

The committee has united three totally different cases into one, which means the judicial proceedings are likely to be lengthy. As we have reported, Reznik, a correspondent for the newspaper Yuzhny Federalny, is facing charges under Article 306.3 (“Deliberate false reporting”), Article 204.2b (“Commercially-motivated bribery”) and Article 319 of the RF Criminal Code (“Public insult to a government official on duty”) – see Digest 610 .

Reznik filed two reports with the police about telephone threats he had received over the phone. But the regional Investigative Department started legal proceedings against the journalist himself, pointing out in the indictment that Reznik, “wishing to draw public and media attention to his personality” and “seeking to raise his professional rating”, had allegedly asked two of his acquaintances to give him those threatening calls. The position in prosecution is built entirely on the testimony of those “two acquaintances” – people with whom he had actually been in conflict, Reznik told the GDF.

The journalist was detained by police after giving a car service mechanic 2,000 roubles in exchange for a certificate of his car’s being in good technical order and safe to drive. That was what the investigators labelled “commercially-motivated bribe”. They also accused Reznik of insulting Rostov Arbitration Court Chairwoman Solovyova by his article “Black Sabbath in Rostov” and other publications, which analysts from the Justice Ministry’s Southern Centre of Forensic Studies found “humiliating” and “breaching the communicative and ethical norms of public speech”.

 

TAJIKISTAN

Journalist goes on hunger strike

Freelance Tajik journalist Safvat Burkhonov went on a hunger strike of indefinite duration on 6 June in view of the “deteriorating political, economic and social situation in the country”, as he wrote in his Facebook blog explaining his decision, which he said he took “with full responsibility and being fully aware of its potential consequences”.

“The political, economic and social situation, as I’ve seen it since the republic proclaimed independence,” he wrote, “leads me to believe we’ve been moving backward. We’ve lost all characteristics of higher creatures, turning here over the years into beings deprived of any rights. All government structures are paralysed; corruption permeates society from top to bottom. The international organisations working in Tajikistan have forgotten all about their functions and have turned into corrupt structures, too.”

Burkhonov is calling for a revision of the country’s unsuccessful economic policy; an end to Tajikistan’s artificial isolation testifying to a flawed external policy; an urgent restructuring of the armed forces; an agriculture and water-resource management reshuffle; and a revision of the state policy in the area of intellectual property. Also, he wants the state to officially denounce such shameful phenomena as Tajik migrant-worker slavery, and to effectively protect the Tajik citizens’ rights.

Safvat Burkhonov is a freelance journalist who earlier contributed to such independent Tajik media as Nerui Sukhan and SSSR. He is a co-founder of the Salom group seeking to improve relations between Dushanbe and Tashkent.

[Asia-Plus report, 6 June]

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in May 2013

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Vladimir Igolkin, chief editor, Omsky Vestnik newspaper, Omsk).

Attacks on journalists – 2 (film crews of REN TV, Channel Fivce and Channel One – all attacked in Moscow; Yaroslav Shchedrov, journalist, 73online.ru, Ulyanovsk).

Instances of censorship – 3 (Zarechny TV Channel, Sverdlovsk Region; Yenisei Channel, Krasnoyarsk; Dialogues news agency, St. Petersburg).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 3 (Stanislav Pozdnyakov, editor, ICC Press Moscow; Igor Tsagoyev, deputy chief editor, Moskovsky Komsomolets v KBR newspaper, Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria;Nikoyai Yarst, reporter, and Filipp Vassilenko, cameraman, both of OTR Public Television Channel, Krasnodar Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 6 (Dmitry Kuvaldin, cameraman, Lenta.doc, Moscow; Yelena Ivanova, editor-in-chief, and Maria Aleksashina, senior editor, Svobodniye Novosti newspaper, Saratov; Andrey Novichkov, correspondenr, Grani.ru, Moscow; Igor Tsagoyev, deputy chief editor, Moskovsky Komsomolets v KBR newspaper, Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria; Nikolai Yarst, correspondent, and Filipp Vassilenko, cameraman, Russian Public Television, Krasnodar Region; Nikolai Bondarik, journalist, Kasparov.ru, 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) – 27.

Threats against journalists and media – 1 (Ulyana Skoibeda, journalist, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Moscow).

Refusals to print (or distribute) media – 1 (Argumenty in Fakty v Tule, Tula).

Disruption of radio/TV broadcasts – 1 (REN TV Ufa Channel, Ufa, Bashkortostan).

Closure of media – 1 (Molodyozh Severa newspaper, Komi Republic, North).

Withdrawal, purchase or seizure of print run – 3 (Moyi Novosti newspaper, Yekaterinburg; Za Navalnogo newspaper, Kirov - twice).

Interference with web publications – 10 (websites of newspapers Novaya Gazeta, Moskovsky Komsomolets; websites of Ekho Moskvy radio staion », Dozhd TV Channel. Forbes.ru – all three of Moscow; websites of Fontanka.ru, Zaks.ru, Lenizdat.ru, Novaya Gazeta v Sankt-Peterburge.ru; Ekho Moskvy v Sankt-Peterburge.ru – all of St. Petersburg).

Confiscation of/ damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 1 (REN TV cameras, Moscow)

Administrative pressure (sudden inspections by sanitary, fire, tax collectors and other inspectors) - 2 (Zarechny TV Channel, Sverdlovsk Region; media in Yakutia).

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 23.

 

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 Monitring 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