16 Октября 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 631

14 October 2013



Anna Politkovskaya’s memorial plague appears in Moscow

Novaya Gazeta (NG) columnist Anna Politkovskaya died seven years ago – she was shot and killed in the elevator in her apartment house in Moscow’s Lesnaya Street. Marking her death anniversary, a memorial plaque was unveiled on the wall of the NG office in Potapovsky Lane. Made of brass, it features three notepad pages with Anna’s portrait above and the text below: “Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya worked in this building from 1999 until her tragic death in 2006.” The authors are sculptor Ivan Balashov, a graduate of the V. Surikov Art Institute, and architect Pyotr Kozlov, a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Architecture, whose creative proposal was selected from a score of others on a competitive basis.

The investigation of Politkovskaya’s murder continues as a third trial over her suspected killers is proceeding in Moscow. In the dock are three brothers Makhmudov, their relative Lom-Ali Gaitukayev and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former operative of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Countering Organised Crime. A sixth man accused – Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a former chief of Unit 4 of the Moscow City Police Operative Investigations Department, who made a deal with the investigators and testified against his accomplices – was convicted earlier and sentenced to eleven years in prison. The mastermind behind the killing remains unidentified.

The memorial ceremony was attended by journalists, human rights activists, and Politkovskaya’s friends and family members. NG Chief Editor Dmitry Muratov explained why the memorial plaque is in Potapovsky Lane.

“About 50 metres down the lane is the office of that secret service agent who gave away Anna’s address to the crime organisers,” he said. “And some 80 metres from here is the café where the killers sat discussing the details of their plot. And here is the corner at which sleuths stood, keeping Anna under surveillance. A blue-and-green van with tinted windows was parked nearby, with evil sitting inside – puffing, fidgeting about, listening to those primitive ditties on the radio… Yet neither Anna nor we paid due attention to that evil, and Politkovskaya herself once explained why: ‘Safeguarding my own security is impossible – it’s far easier to defend others.’ That’s what she kept doing till the end.”

Her colleagues have continued an independent investigation into the killing. “We won’t stop it until all those involved in the crime are identified, tracked down and brought to justice,” Novaya Gazeta spokeswoman Nadezhda Prusenkova said.

Until 7 October 2013, Politkovskaya’s name could be found in the names of streets in Rome, Tbilisi, Paris, Milan, Brussels and other cities in different countries of the world. “Finally, Russia has joined the global community of those who remember Politkovskaya,” Glasnost Defence Foundation President Alexei Simonov said. “Memories of Anna will live on independently of this plaque. We, her friends, are here to do what she entrusted us with doing – to advance the cause which she used to promote and for which she gave her life.”



Deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta attacked in Moscow

Novaya Gazeta Deputy Editor-in-Chief Sergei Sokolov was attacked and beaten up near his apartment house in Moscow’s Moldogulova Street late on 11 October.

An unknown assailant attacked the editor from behind, hitting him several times on the back of the head, then in the face and, tearing the bag from the victim’s hand, ran away. Sokolov was taken to hospital, offered essential medical aid and discharged. In the stolen bag, he had a notebook PC, an external hard disc with personal and official documents, as well as his IDs and home keys.

Police are not linking the attack with the editor’s professional work; they see it as ordinary street robbery falling under Criminal Code Article 161. The assailant has been declared wanted by the police.

NG Chief Editor Dmitry Muratov spoke on the Ekho Moskvy radio, wishing the investigators success in their search for the criminal but declining to comment on the incident, as agreed with law enforcement.

It may as well be added that Novaya Gazeta has suffered more attacks than any of its peers; four of its staff journalists have died violent deaths.

Police use violence against reporters covering street actions in Moscow

After a man of North Caucasian origin stabbed to death a resident of Moscow’s district of Biryulyovo on 10 October, Russian nationalists first attacked the Biryuza Trade Centre, which employs many migrant workers, and then came to grips with riot police. The confrontation turned out to be very tough, resulting in injuries suffered by both sides, and in several dozen raiders detained.

Reporters covering the pogrom suffered damage, too. Timur Olevsky of the Dozhd TV Channel was hit several times with rubber clubs – despite shouting to the police he was doing his professional work as a reporter. He had his arm injured, and when he attempted live reporting from the street, he got his iPad broken. Riot policemen attempted a few times to detain Russianplanet.ru reporter Pavel Nikulin, including by force, according to his news website. Ekho Moskvy reporter Yevgeny Buntman was pushed into a paddy wagon and driven to the police station to stay there – with his press card ignored – until the small hours of the morning. The group of other detainees included Alexei Gorbachev of Nezavisimaya Gazeta and his colleague from the newspaper Gazeta, as well as Kommersant FM Editor Pyotr Parkhomenko. All of them were later released.

The Moscow police will submit evidence of the injuries received by its officers to the Investigative Committee, Grani.ru reported. It is still unclear if the attacks on journalists while on duty will be investigated at all; experience shows this is unlikely, considering the atmosphere of impunity which continues to plague Russia.

Journalist convicted on extremism charges in Chuvashia

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The Morgaush district court in Chuvashia on 10 October convicted Cheboksary-based journalist Ille Ivanov under Criminal Code Article 282.1 (“Instigation of inter-ethnic strife through the use of media”), while reducing his punishment to 300 hours of compulsory labour and releasing the defendant there and then in view of the limitation period expiry.

The story dates back to the spring of 2011, when the opposition newspaper Vyatka carried an article comparing the statuses of the Russian and Chuvash languages in the republic “but not calling on people to stage any protests, the less so acts of extremism,” according to its chief editor, Eduard Mochalov.

Yet legal proceedings on charges of extremism were started in the wake of that publication, although not immediately, since a local court did not originally recognise the article as extremist and closed the case. The prosecutor’s office challenged that decision before the republic’s Supreme Court, which in August 2012 ruled to open a criminal case, after all.

A curious detail: the disputed publication was signed by a pen name, “Alexei Kudrin”, but investigators cracked down on Ille Ivanov despite editor Mochalov’s repeated claims it was he who had written the story, the Chuvash-language newspaper Irekle Samakh (Free Word) reported. As a result, Ivanov, 58, finished up in the dock.

And one other nuance. In the course of the hearings, both Ivanov and his defence lawyers more than once asked the court to switch to Chuvash, which is the defendant’s mother tongue, but all of their motions were turned down. It so happened that the trial actually confirmed what the disputed publication had asserted in the first place, giving rise to the criminal charges against its author – that Chuvash has been discriminated against in Chuvashia and that people have been denied the opportunity to speak their native language, specifically, in their communications with government authorities…

Maybe it is because of this that the court passed so lenient a sentence in respect of a journalist – a very rare occurrence in Russian judicial practices.

Journalists in Perm compelled to prove their right to publish data about law enforcers’ earnings

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Yuri Shchebetkov, chief of the regional branch of Roskomnadzor [federal agency overseeing public communications], has offered the Perm-based newspaper Zvezda five working days to present evidence confirming the journalists’ right to have made public information about the incomes of six law enforcement officers – four generals, a senior legal counsellor, a lieutenant-colonel and a major.

Himself a retired KGB/FSB official, Shchebetkov, in a letter dated 4 October, required the journalists to present evidence (“in the form of expressions of the said persons’ consent; or reference to publicly available information sources (with attached screenshots); or any other legal grounds, with confirming documents attached”) that they were justified in disclosing the six officers’ “personal data”; also, he asked the reporters to explain if they did not think that “the data cited in the articles ‘A Birthday Party in Paris’ and ‘Tights with Stripes’ constitute a special secret protected under the law”.

Zvezda Chief Editor Sergei Trushnikov on 7 October sent the oversight agency a reply citing four federal laws, six presidential decrees and one Supreme Court resolution, all requiring government officials to officially declare their incomes, and affirming the journalists’ right to use such official data and report them to the public. “The incomes and expenditures of the persons mentioned in the two articles are available on the websites of their respective government agencies,” Trushnikov wrote in his letter to Roskomnadzor. “Please find attached the screenshots.”



Some statistics cited

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

Civitas.ru: Fifth criminal case opened against prominent journalist in Rostov Region

Parkgagarina.info: Journalists from post-Soviet countries discuss professional problems

Civitas.ru: Roskomnadzor intends to strip RosBalt news agency of its media status



Staffers of district newspaper in Karelia impeach their chief editor

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

The staffers of the district newspaper Prizyv based in Karelia have impeached their editor-in-chief, who has run the media outlet for a little more than 18 months. Prior to his appointment, he had never worked for any media at all, and one can only guess why he was chosen by the head of Landenpokhsky district administration to fill the vacancy. By the way, his predecessor, too, had been recommended by the same district leader; the previous editor resigned a year and a half ago amid a scandal and with several legal claims lodged against him. […]

Over a short period of time, the incumbent editor-in-chief has shown himself as a poor journalist, poor organiser of the creative process, and poor handler of economic matters. His appointment triggered a chain of in-house conflicts and brought about a really paradoxical situation, in which staffers have had to urge their chief editor to do his job properly; see that financial and economic issues are duly tackled; plan editorial work for some time ahead; and refrain from bullying readers who’ve come to the Zvezda office time and again.

Tensions have kept growing from month to month, and the newspaper’s financial position, difficult as it is, has become really alarming. Finally, the internal conflict spilled beyond the company walls, with the chief editor cheerfully continuing to award himself monthly bonuses at a time when the expression “financial collapse” ceased being just a figure of speech for the Zvezda team.

A municipal unitary enterprise, Prizyv happens to have four co-owners: two district power bodies (the administration and deputies’ council of the Landenpokhsky district), plus the Respublika Kareliya autonomous news agency and the newspaper’s staff as such. The fact of belonging to the group of Prizyv’s co-owners allowed the journalists to call a meeting of founders (of the four of these, three did attend the meeting, including the district council chairman and an adviser to the head of the district administration). The point is, however, that the council chairman’s term of office had expired by that time, so he actually took part in the meeting as a private individual; and the mayor was represented by an adviser who was not empowered to officially speak on behalf of the administration. In other words, only Prizyv’s staff was authorised to decide and vote during the meeting.

What had long been discussed but had remained undocumented was carefully written into the protocol this time, and the journalists sent copies of the resulting document to all the parties concerned. They sent a separate letter (describing their newspaper’s ill fate in every detail) to the President of Karelia.

Knowing all too well that any unilateral decision they might take in the absence of the founders’ quorum would never be recognised as valid, the journalists set before themselves a goal that they wrote into the protocol: to call a full-scale general meeting of Prizyv’s founders to “finally resolve the existing contradictions”, which to the newspaper’s team means only one thing: to have their incumbent chief editor replaced.

Nearly a month has passed since that meeting, but none of the letters circulated among the other co-owners has yielded an answer. One additional hurdle is that the district government bodies have not yet been formed in full since September’s elections. Evidently knowing what all this is likely to result in for him personally, the chief editor has prudently taken a leave from work – to squeeze as much benefit as possible from his tenure as Prizyv’s boss.



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’.”

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.

We acknowledge the assistance of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

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 438, 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