15 Августа 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 622

12 August 2013


Investigators in Stavropol Region have identified suspected mastermind of editor’s killing

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

The name of the man who allegedly ordered Nikolai Potapov’s killing is still an investigative secret. The editor’s killers were earlier caught by policemen who were hot on their heels.

After Potapov, 66, was lethally wounded on 18 May 2013, most media referred to him as ex-chairman of the Prigorodny village council, a human rights defender and a volunteer environmentalist. What they failed to mention was his status as the founder, editor and author of the Sel-Sovet newspaper, which he used to print out on his PC printer and personally deliver in his old Oka car around the village, tossing it into residents’ mailboxes. He published his newspaper (with a circulation of nearly 1,000) for almost three years, using it, as well as some independent regional media, as a mouthpiece for reporting local rulers’ abuses and corrupt practices. Among other things, he wrote about his landslide victory in local elections over a rival candidate representing the United Russia Party; how district MPs ignored him later; why he’d had to go on a hunger strike; why he, and later his wife, had been beaten by unknown assailants who had then thrown a Molotov cocktail into, and fired shots on, the windows of his house, etc. The reasons were clear: it was in revenge for his reporting about re-division of property and machinations with land, which is worth its weight in gold in the health-resort area where he lived.

“When I was elected head of the village council, I still believed in the triumph of democracy and justice in this country,” Potapov wrote in one of his articles. “But an outsider’s hitting the power echelons caused turbulent protests from my rivals, higher-ranking officials, and colleagues.”

He repeatedly complained to law enforcement about the threats he had received (he even installed security cameras in his office). He reported the crimes committed against him, his family and his property, but police never even attempted to track down the perpetrators or those behind them.

Potapov was killed near his home in Bykogorka village. A man wearing a black facial mask jumped out of a car to fire eight shots at the editor point blank. Potapov, heavily bleeding, lived long enough to call his wife on the phone and tell her the killer’s license plate number.

The criminals were detained by a pure chance: they failed to stop at a traffic police checkpoint, and then, pursued by police, dropped their car and tried to escape into a nearby forest.

One is left to hope the investigators and judges will do their job honestly and punish the killers severely. But it also should be remembered that Potapov – even before his meeting with the murderer – had systematically, day after day, been slowly killed by those whom he asked questions to get to the truth, to whom he reported the results of his own independent investigations, and to whom he turned for help. Potavov, an amateur journalist, was killed by the regime and by those professional journalists who had built themselves conveniently into it.



TV editor in Chelyabinsk fired, threatened with criminal prosecution for showing anti-Putin video

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

An incident that occurred on Vostochny Ekspress TV Channel (VE) in Chelyabinsk on 31 July was anything but pleasing to the regional authorities, which at one time purchased the channel from a private owner for a nice round sum paid from the regional budget and have never since had the heart to part with it, despite the-then President Dmitry Medvedev’s instructions on de-monopolising government-owned media. There were many other TV channels in the South Urals, though, which were eager to “contribute to shaping a positive public image of the ruling elite”.

On that day, amid a regular evening news show, a story about a new tomographic scanner installed in a town hospital was suddenly replaced with a video calling viewers’ attention to the killings of journalists Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova and lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the unseen growth of corruption, and other nasty things happening in Russia under Putin.

“We all froze at first, then stopped the video and switched on the first recording at hand, which was some old TV show,” Vostochny Ekspress staffers told the GDF.

As it turned out in the course of an emergency investigation, the video had been put on the air by a VE editor who had quarrelled with the channel’s management and was seeking revenge. The editor was instantly fired, and the management was now considering the prospect of suing him for hooliganism, VE Director Valery Shagiyev told the press.

We called our colleagues at Vostochny Ekspress, but none of them dared to give the fired editor’s name – so intimidated they all were. Meanwhile, the story has caused broad public repercussions due to a netizen nicknamed “Andrei Popov”, who posted a recording of the news round-up with the inserted anti-Putin sequences on YouTube.

If he had not, the TV channel’s management might have been able to hush up the incident. Ironically, Shagiyev at the time was busy building a regional branch of the pro-Putin United People’s Front, which he then joined as a co-founder.

Administration’s conflict with TV company by far not over in Kemerovo Region, Siberia

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Problems have continued piling up for the Omiks TV Company based in the city of Belovo, Kemerovo Region. In late June, local authorities ordered switching off power supply to the Omiks studios on the pretext that the building had been damaged by an earthquake shortly before (see digest 620). A month later, Omiks resumed broadcasting under a relevant court ruling and in line with a prosecutor’s office determination qualifying the city administration’s actions in respect of the TV company (on the pretext of the post-quake state of emergency announced in the region) as unlawful – just as the fire inspection ordered by the authorities on the same pretext. The findings of the prosecutorial check-up were submitted to the Investigative Committee, Omiks reported.

That, however, did not put an end to the conflict. The city administration responded by mounting a pressure campaign against the journalists, Omiks General Director A. Lazarev said on 9 August.

“The city administration sent messages to the regional authorities, police and prosecutors saying our company had allegedly circulated false reports about the earthquake – that the entire city was lying in ruins and that the earthquake had been man-caused, not natural,” Lazarev said. “Those allegations were checked up and it was established we had not reported anything of the kind, ever.”

“Also, Administration Head Gusarov reported to the FSB that Omiks, seeking to sow panic, had allegedly announced by a creeping line on Rossiya 1 TV Channel that another, a much more powerful, earthquake might hit the city shortly – an absolutely absurd claim, because Omiks is technically unable to place any announcements on Rossiya 1,” Lazarev said. “In June and July, the authorities filed a whole heap of reports asking police to start criminal proceedings against individual journalists and other Omiks employees on a variety of charges, from libel to fraud. They also complained to the tax collectors.”

The Glasnost Defence Foundation is concerned to see the conflict in Belovo take such a turn.

Pro-URP newspaper editor in Karelia may be charged with violating electoral law

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

Pre-election campaigning in Karelia is gaining momentum. The lists of candidates have been compiled, and everything is now being done to make these lists as visible to electors as possible, which sometimes leads to problems.

For example, the district newspaper Oloniya has published the names of candidates for seats on the local council with comments – as if quite by chance – next to some of them. Naturally, the readers noted that eulogies were pronounced on only one group of candidates – members or supporters of the United Russia Party. In a public debate that followed, it was established that Oloniya Chief Editor V. Pashkova had attempted that way to give publicity to her fellow party members (as it turned out, she is head of United Russia’s local executive committee).

One of the candidates has lodged a legal claim, demanding that the URP candidates be de-registered for violating electoral law. Although such an outcome is unlikely, the Oloniya editor will certainly be taught a good lesson. A court hearing is still pending.

Ex-minister’s legal claim against independent newspaper in Stavropol turned down

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

As we have reported, Stavropol Region Natural Resources ex-Minister Boris Kabelchuk has filed a legal claim in defence of his business reputation against the newspaper Otkrytaya Gazeta (OG) and its author Anton Chablin, and demanded a total of 100,000 roubles in moral damages from the two defendants. The former government official claimed hurt by an OG publication that probed into the true reasons of his replacement. Exercising any media’s right to publish independent political assessments, the newspaper suggested Kabelchuk’s resignation might be linked with the unlawful construction of a café in the Russkiy Les (Russian Forest) National Park.

Speaking in court, the plaintiff insisted he had nothing to do with the questionable construction project and tried to shift the blame to his former subordinates (see digest 621). The defence statement was supported by leaders of the green Protest Committee and by the environmental prosecutor’s office, which presented its expert conclusions after an independent investigation. “It’s Russian Forest, not the ex-minister, that needs to be protected under the law,” the defendants and their supporters said.

As a result, the Oktyabrsky district court in Stavropol, chaired by Judge Aleksandr Shiryayev, turned Kabelchuk’s legal claim down.



Staffs of two blocked media outlets appeal for public support

The staffs of the Guljan.org news website and ADAM Reader’s magazine have appealed for support to Kazakhstani and foreign media, democratic countries’ embassies in the Republic of Kazakhstan, and international organisations working to protect freedom of expression and the journalists’ rights.

“Our two media outlets are still under a blockade imposed by the authorities through prohibiting the printing houses to print our publications as of mid-June, and through unreasonably blocking off our website on 27 July,” the appeal said.

“The local police and prosecutors, whom we asked nearly two months ago to identify the agency and its employees who had tried to intimidate printing house managers (one of them had come under fire from a traumatic gun), remain inactive: investigators either have claimed to have their hands full or have not responded to our pleas at all,” the journalists wrote. “KazakhTelecom, which makes our website accessible to Kazakhstani web users, has left our inquiries about the reasons for blocking off Guljan.org unanswered, and in telephone conversations it has resolutely denied having anything to do with this situation at all.”

“We are thus witnessing the use of unlawful and corrupt methods to choke off two independent media – Guljan.org and ADAM Reader’s,” the appeal said. “As a result, for nine months now (starting with the first few instances of the website’s blocking and interference with our magazine’s release in December 2012), the staffers have been deprived of the right to engage in professional activities, and our numerous readers – of the right to freely receive information via our media.”

As is known, the Bostandyk district court in Almaty on 5 December 2012 suspended the web newspaper Guljan.org for three months. On 24 December, that court ruling was cancelled in response to a plea by the newspaper’s lawyer. But only three days later, another court “picked up the baton” by freezing Guljan.org for three more months starting 27 December, thereby granting a legal claim lodged by the Medeu district prosecutor against the newspaper and its chief editor, Gulzhan Yergaliyeva. The prosecutor justified his claim by reference to the 21 January 2012 publication “Why I’ll Come to Abai Monument on 28 January”, illustrated by video clips that called, in his view, for “an unauthorised protest action constituting an administrative offence”. Although the 3-month suspension ended in March 2013, the web newspaper was officially unblocked as late as 3 July.

The print magazine ADAM Reader’s, starting with its 13th issue, has been denied printing services by all the printing houses in Kazakhstan and those in Russia which the magazine’s editor has ever since tried to partner.

“The situation created around our media outlet cannot be described otherwise than one resulting from our arbitrary treatment by the authorities,” the journalists wrote. Having failed to defend their right to freedom of expression and creative work by any methods allowed by law, they appealed for support and protection to the Kazakhstani and international public.

[Adil Soz Foundation report, 6 August]



Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in June and July 2013

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, observer, Novoye Delo newspaper, Republic of Dagestan).

Attacks on journalists – 13 (OTV film crew, Vladivostok; Irina Lukyashko, reporter, UGA.ru, Krasnodar Region; Rostislav Bardokin, chief editor, Novokuznetsk Internet TV, Kemerovo Region; Yevgeniy Titov, Novaya Gazeta correspondent, Krasnodar Region; Rostislav Zhuravlyov, UralPolit.ru correspondent, Tyumen; Anton Burlutsky, editor, Lyudi i Veshcni-Shopping magazine, Orenburg; Galina Kramich, chief editor, Lyubimy Gorod newspaper, Moscow Region; Boris Muradov, chief editor, Digital Photo magazine, Moscow; SutrugInterNovosti film crew, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District; Yekaterina Parkhomenko, Kommersant reporter, Moscow; Vitaly Shushkevich, opposition journalist, Moscow; Yuri Nersesov, executive editor, APN-spb.ru, Saint Petersburg; Denis Kuchmenko, chief editor, Gorozhanin newspaper, Irkutsk Region).

Attacks on media offices, TV centres – 1 (Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, Moscow).

Instances of censorship – 8 (organisers of Kubana Musical Festival, Krasnodar Region; websites 7.info, MediaRyazan.ru, RZN.info, all three based in Ryazan; OTR Channel, Moscow; Khabarovsk Region governor’s apparatus; Gorodskoy Vestnik newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region; Finam FM radio station, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 5 (Aleksandr Serebryannikov, Bloger51 website, Murmansk; Roman Yushkov, reporter, Zvezda newspaper, Perm; Yuri Shkatulo, freelance journalist, Krasnodar; Anatoly Kuznetsov, editor, Anapa-pro.com, Krasnodar Region; Sergei Reznik, reporter, Yuzhny Federalny newspaper, Rostov-on-Don).

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 3 (Lyubov Alekseyeva, editor, Zarya Vostoka newspaper, Altai Region; Aleksandr Orlov, deputy chief editor, Rossiya 23 TV channel, Moscow; Aisha Urudzheva, chief editor, Vperyod newspaper, Vladimir Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 21 (Olga Skabeyeva, correspondent, and Andrei Melnikov, cameraman, both of Stavropolye State TV/Radio Company, Stavropol; Vitaly Papilkin, chief editor, Samarskiye Izvestia newspaper, Samara Region; Dmitry Zykov, correspondent, Grani.ru, Moscow; Yuri Shkatulo, freelance journalist, Krasnodar; Dodojon Atovulloyev, freelance journalist, Moscow; Sergei Luntz, Sensus Novus correspondent, St. Petersburg; Aleksandr Sotnik and Dmitry Melekhin, correspondents, Politvestnik.tv, Moscow; Yekaterina Parkhomenko, Kommersant reporter, Vitaly Shushkevich, opposition journalist, Igor Sadokov, Gazeta.ru correspondent, Grigory Dukor, chief editor, Reuters photo service, Masha Gessen, independent journalist, Roman Volobuyev, GQ editor, Anastasia Karimova, Kommersant reporter, Karen Shainyan, Dozhd TV channel correspondent, Sergei Shargunov, chief editor, Svpressa.ru news portal, Aleksandr Burtin, Russkiy Reporter correspondent, Mikhail Pochuyev, ITAR-TASS correspondent, and Vladimir Romensky, Dozhd TV channel correspondent – all twelve of Moscow; Angelina Chertok, Svobodnyye Novosti news agency reporter, Saratov Region).

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) – 61.

Threats against journalists and media – 3 (staff of Omiks TV/Radio Company, Kemerovo Region; Yuri Shkatulo, freelance journalist, Krasnodar; Yevgeny Mikhailov, freelance journalist, Rostov-on-Don).

Attempts to eject a publication, etc., from its premises – 1 (Omiks TV/Radio Company, Kemerovo Region).

Refusals to print (or distribute) media – 1 (Za Navalnogo newspaper, Nizhny Novgorod).

Disruption of TV or radio broadcasts – 6 (Dozhd TV channel, Moscow; Omiks TV/Radio Company, Cable TV Co., Kuzbass State TV/Radio Company – all three based in Kemerovo Region; UralInform TV channel, Perm; REN TV news programme, Omsk).

Closure of media – 4 (REN TV channel, Ufa, Bashkortostan; PublicPost.ru news portal, Moscow; Digital Photo magazine, Moscow; Zhazhda Zhizni (Thirst of Life) radio show, Moscow).

Withdrawal, purchase or seizure of print run – 12 (Vechorka newspaper, Trans-Baikal Region - thrice; Za Navalnogo newspaper, Krasnodar; Sverdlovskaya Pravda newspaper, Yekaterinburg; Za Navalnogo newspaper, Moscow Region; Alexei Navalny’s campaigning releases, Moscow; Katalog73 newspaper, Ulyanovsk; Zdorovaya Sysert newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region; Narodny Golos newspaper, Irkutsk Region; Vecherny Rubtsovsk newspaper, Altai Region; Vperyod newspaper, Vladimir Region).

Interference with Internet publications – 8 (Russia Today TV channel’s website; RIA Novosti news agency’s website; Neftetransportnaya Territoriya’s website, Moscow - twice; websites of Dagestan news agency, Dagestan State TV/Radio Company, and newspapers Chernovik and Novoye Delo – all four of Dagestan).

Seizure of, or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 5 (cell phone of Stavropolye TV/Radio Company, Stavropol; video camera of Yevgeny Titov, Novaya Gazeta correspondent, Krasnodar Region; office computers of Mestnaya newspaper, Krasnodar Region; computer of a Dutch TV film crew, seized in Murmansk; computer of freelance journalist Sergei Azarov, Rostov Region).

Administrative pressure (sudden inspections by sanitary, fire, tax collectors and other inspectors) - 3 (Trend33 website, Vladimir; Chernovik newspaper, Makhachkala, Dagestan; Vperyod newspaper, Vladimir Region).

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 65.



Finnish-language edition of Carelia magazine hopes to survive by going online

By Anatoly Tsygankov, President, Karelia Journalists’ Union

Karelia’s Finnish-speaking community is discussing the future of the Finnish-language Carelia magazine, whose owners insist on reforming the monthly in view of its steadily shrinking readership (of the 650 copies released, at least a third lie shelved in the office because of low demand), and its high publishing costs (1,700 roubles per issue, vs. the retail price of only 70 roubles).

Under the circumstances, the owners say, it makes no sense continuing to publish the print version of Carelia; moreover it’s dangerous, since even today’s 300-400 subscribers may be lost as more and more ethnic Finns and Ingrian Finns are emigrating from Karelia to their historical homeland. Over the last twenty years, implementation of a Finnish repatriation programme has reduced the number of ethnic Finns in Karelia from 14,000 to 8,000. In addition to the shrinkage of the Finnish community, only 10% of those who stay can read Finnish, according to the latest census.

Still, the government continues allocating budgetary funds in support of Finnish-language periodicals as part of its ethnic culture promotion programmes. Specifically, 300 issues of Carelia are financed by the state, which does not mean the monthly’s circulation cannot be larger. In line with existing arrangements, the release of any additional numbers of the magazine must be financed by Periodika Publishers’, which has been charged by the government to publish the print media in Karelian, Finnish and Veps (in all, two magazines and four newspapers in the three Finno-Ugric languages).

This year Carelia magazine will continue to be released as before – 10 Finnish-language issues, plus one Karelian and one Veps almanac; the latter two will be prepared for printing also by the Finnish-language editors. As of next year, only two print editions of the magazine will be released (along with the Karelian and Veps issues), as the publication will be gradually going online, with its staff preserved in full. With a web-based format in place, the question of Carelia’s periodicity will stand no longer.

Yet defenders of the Finnish-language version of the magazine, seeing the on-going reform as an “encroachment on the interests of the Finnish minority in Karelia”, have exploded with a score of public appeals in defence of the publication. A number of web-based media in Finland have carried articles protesting the “oppression” of the Finnish language in Russia. Specifically, A. Luukkanen, a specialist on Russia and Eastern Europe, called the plans to curtail Carelia magazine’s print releases “an information bomb”. Many see Karelian Ethnic Relations Ministry actions as a campaign to close the Finnish-language magazine. It is indeed odd for Finnish politicians to start linking (in the course of international debates) the proposed replacement of Swedish with Russian as their country’s second official language to a Finnish-language magazine’s reform in Russia.

Carelia’s staffers feel apprehensive of the on-going changes, which they fear may harm them. But since the reform has been kick-started already, it seems wiser for them to be among the decision-makers. For example, now that they have been given a free hand to develop a reform concept for their magazine, it would be silly to reject the helmsman’s role.



2013 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” continues

The Jury of the 2013 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” continues accepting journalists’ works for this year’s contest. The submission deadline is November 1.

The Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” is 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.

The materials submitted for the competition should have been published between October 15, 2012 and October 15, 2013 in Russian print and online media. Candidates for the award may be nominated by editorial boards and individual Russian citizens.

All materials must be submitted in print or electronic format (on diskettes or CDs, or as e-mail messages sent to fond@gdf.ru or boris@gdf.ru). Print versions shall be mailed to: Glasnost Defence Foundation, 4, Zubovsky Boulevard, Office 438, 119992, Moscow, Russia, with a note: “Andrei Sakharov Competition ‘Journalism as an Act of Conscience’.”

Further detail (rus) about the Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”. Contact phone: (+7 495) 637-4947.


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.


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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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