Дайджест
31 Октября 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 633

28 October 2013

 

RUSSIA

Freelance reporter beaten up in Tver

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Maksim Novikov, a well-known journalist, blogger and political writer, was attacked in the Proletarsky district of Tver late on 24 October.

Two unidentified men armed with a stun gun, brass knuckles and a baseball bat waylaid Novikov near his apartment house, hit him several times on the head and ran away, taking his notebook PC and documents.

First, he received an electric discharge in his right arm that rendered him defenceless. Then there came a torrent of bat and brass-knuckles blows. “Yet I had a feeling they were trying to intimidate me, rather than inflict serious traumas,” the journalist told the news website Tverigard.ru. “Finally, I managed to break out and run away. No one ran after me.”

The attack left him with a temporal bone fracture and a few lip and ear cuts.

Novikov, who contributes reports to Radio Liberty, Radio Ekho Moskvy and the Kasparov.ru news website, has lately researched the spheres of inter-ethnic relations and raids on business enterprises, Hro.org reported. The journalist links the attack with his professional work – specifically, with his reporting about re-division of property in Tver. An indirect confirmation of this link is that the assailants did not take anything besides his documents and notebook PC.

He reported the attack to the police, giving rise to an investigation.

Prominent blogger attacked in Rostov-on-Don

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

As Sergei Reznik, a prominent journalist, blogger and correspondent for the newspaper Yuzhny Federalny, had got out of a car and was heading for his home house in Rostov in his wife’s company late on 22 October, they heard someone running after them.

“I turned around and saw a lean man catching up with us and raising a baseball bat over Sergei’s head,” Natalya Reznik told the GDF. “My husband dodged and took the first blow on the side of his neck. After he fell down, the assailant started kicking away at him, not giving him a chance to rise. I cried out for help, and then I heard the sound of a gunshot.”

Some passers-by rushed to their help, scaring the attacker (and his accomplice) away. A police patrol arrived to inspect the crime scene and find a cartridge case from a traumatic pistol. Reznik is undergoing examination at the A&E Hospital. Criminal proceedings have been started, although police have refrained from commenting on the likely motives. The victim himself links the assault with his professional work. As we reported earlier, a whole five legal claims have been filed against him by high-ranking government officials – the regional arbitration court chairman, a former regional deputy prosecutor and others. Currently, hearings are in progress at the Pervomaisky district court of three legal claims united into a single criminal case (see digest 618 ).

Reporter and audio producer assaulted in Khakassia

By Mikhail Afanasyev, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Last weekend, two media workers were attacked in the city of Abakan, Khakassia – Tayir Achitayev, correspondent for the republican edition of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP), and Edvald Jungblud, audio producer for the RTS television channel.

Unknown persons knocked Achitayev off his feet early on 26 October, hit him several times on the head and robbed him of his cell phone and money. He is to stay for at least a month at the neurosurgery department of the Abakan city hospital, doctors said. Police are conducting a check-up to decide whether or not to start criminal proceedings. Preliminary investigation has yielded the conclusion that “the journalist was attacked by unidentified street hooligans”. Meanwhile, the Khakassia news agency has reported that “in the past two weeks, the KP correspondent had several silent telephone calls from unknown callers”. Another likely motive is Achitayev’s active participation in the search for a woman who has been reported missing.

The next-day assault on Jungblud resulted in the victim’s delivery in a very serious condition to the resuscitation ward of the neurosurgery department. “At 2 a.m. on 27 October, a brawl between a jobless local resident (born 1982) and a young man (born 1992) resulted in the latter’s receiving a trauma – presumably from a brick crushed on his head,” a police report said. “The attacker was detained, with legal proceedings started against him under Criminal Code Article 111 on charges of deliberate infliction of grievous bodily harm on a person.”

Reporters barred from covering Olympic torch relay in Karelia

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

Karelia is one of Russia’s regions which have already seen the Olympic flame. Some will remember this as a festive event, while others will feel they were much disturbed – and even went through physical suffering – as the Olympic torch was relayed through the streets of Petrozavodsk. The ceremony caused very mixed feelings. On the one hand, the organisers invited residents out of their homes to have as many people as possible take part in events associated with the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Karelians responded enthusiastically. On the other hand, the torch relay froze the city’s traffic in a manner unseen even during presidential visits to the capital of Karelia.

 

The torchbearers, most of them renowned local athletes, were followed by the so-called “flame-keepers” who arrived in Petrozavodsk together with the Olympic flame. It is these keepers, along with the police, who whipped up public anxiety to a level at which many thought something very disturbing and even dangerous was happening. Apart from sealing off city streets along the relay route for an hour or more and thereby bringing public transport to a full standstill, they made the reporters’ work enormously difficult. True, on the eve of the event the organisers had called a press conference to tell reporters not to come near the torchbearers and not to block their way, because the guards would show maximum vigilance and accredited journalists might face problems. Unaccredited reporters would not be allowed beyond the guarding line at all, they said.

Correspondents for the newspaper Nam Vsyo Yasno, who had missed that “Olympic” press conference and knew nothing about the warnings, their press cards and full sets of photo and video equipment in hand, started after the torchbearers. They had arranged with North Pole explorer Victor Simonov that they would film him picking up the torch and have him speak before the camera after the relay. Seconds before the torch was to change hands, a reporter and a cameraman dived under the guarding line onto the road shoulder, preparing to work; that’s when a police officer jumped at them, swearing and telling them to back off immediately. They showed him their press cards, but the officer started to push them out of the “danger zone”. Feeling that arguing with the police was futile, the reporter took out his cell phone and started to film Simonov picking up the Olympic torch.

What happened in Petrozavodsk showed how silly Russian managers may be and how easily they may foul up even a very good project. Indeed, they should not have turned the Olympic torch relay into something like an operation to transport inflammable cargo.

When the Olympic flame finally left Petrozavodsk, residents – motorists in the first place – could sigh with relief.

Zlatoust mayor claims 100,000 in moral damages from journalists

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Residents of Zlatoust, Chelyabinsk Region, have lived for the past month in a forest, building fires to warm themselves. They have not gone out of their minds or given up their urban dwellings for good, though – they resort to this tactic in hopes of protecting the local pine forest from getting destroyed by business companies that have – in collusion with the local administration – secretly privatised 35 hectares of the relict pine forest, which has long been a favourite recreation zone for city residents.

After media and bloggers expressed their support for the activists, Zlatoust Mayor Vyacheslav Zhilin lodged a legal claim against the newspaper Obshchestvennyi Zashchitnik (he earlier filed several other claims against forest defenders) for its publishing details about the conflict around The Merry Hill, as the recreation zone is called locally.

The publication’s phrase that struck Zhilin as “damaging” to his honour, dignity and business reputation read as follows: “Despite his repeated reassurances to residents [that he would not allow building trade or entertainment centres in the green zone], Zhilin gave the construction the go-ahead.”

The city head wants a disclaimer and 100,000 roubles in moral and reputational damages from the newspaper.

Local journalists have responded by posting in the Internet ample evidence proving the story’s accuracy, including a video that shows the mayor pledging to preserve the relict forest, along with photocopies of his orders authorising the construction of trade and entertainment facilities on the same forest land.

It is not clear what in particular might “damage” the mayor’s reputation. Could a phrase the accuracy of which is backed by numerous facts ever sound insulting to him? Or has he simply forgotten his recent campaigning pledges to the electorate? If Zhilin happens to suffer from amnesia, he’d better quit a job as nervous as his…

Khimki forest defenders begin action “For Freedom of Expression” in Moscow Region

Khimki activists intend to picket the Moscow Region Government headquarters in Krasnogorsk starting on 23 October and until all DDoS attacks on their independent websites have been stopped. They also will urge Governor Andrei Vorobyov and law enforcement to investigate the cyber-attacks and prosecute those responsible.

In a new scandal after the recent beating of Khimki SMI (media holding) General Director Tatyana Revenkova (see digest 627), all of the Khimki activists’ three independent public and political news websites – Ecmo.ru, Dmp-skhodnya.info and Gshimki.ru – have been blocked by DDOS attacks that were so powerful that specialists haven’t been able to unblock the sites so far.

People suspect the resumption of cyber-attacks is linked with the return to the city administration of members from the team of ex-Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko, during whose time in office such attacks were routine and continued until his resignation. Moreover, the Khimki administration is now looking for a hacker to disable the Ecmo.ru website on a permanent basis, a source within the administration said.

Currently, activists are publishing news reports on their Livejournal sites at ecmoru.livejournal.com and dmp-skhodnya.livejournal.com, as well as on Yevgenia Chirikova’s Twitter page at twitter.com/4irikova.

[Movement in Defence of the Khimki Forest report, 22 October]

 

KAZAKHSTAN

Adil Soz Foundation report on human rights violations in September 2013

In September, the human rights foundation Adil Soz registered 79 reports about events related to violations of freedom of expression in Kazakhstan, including the following:

  • A suspected attacker on journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov was detained in Uralsk;
  • Journalist and human rights defender Aleksandr Kharlamov was released from detention in exchange for a written pledge not to leave town;
  • A court in Almaty suspended two independent publications – Tribuna: Ashyk Alan and Pravda Kazakhstana – for three months;
  • Petropavlovsk.kz reporters Yekaterina Nazarenko and Olga Vaitovich were accused of publishing libellous and insulting content;
  • Kazakhstani intellectuals expressed their support for the independent media.

 

Attempts on journalists’ lives – 2

Attacks on journalists and media – 2

Threats against journalists – 3

Interference with journalists’ lawful professional activities – 3

Violations of the media’s right to freedom of expression and creative activity – 5

Unjustified denials or belated provision of publicly significant information – 6

Unjustified restrictions on access to publicly significant information – 9

Unlawful detention of media workers – 10

Summons of media workers to executive bodies – 11

Violations of the principle of media equality – 11

Journalists charged with instigating social, inter-ethnic, tribal, racial or religious hatred – 12

Journalists charged with publishing libellous or insulting content – 12

Media closure or suspension pursuant to court decisions – 14

Legal claims in defence of honour, dignity and business reputation – 15

 

UKRAINE

Police starts investigating attack on Inter-TV reporters in Transcarpathia

Police have started an investigation into an alleged case of interference with the work of an Inter-TV film crew in the Transcarpathian Region.

As the journalists were shooting a report about the life of ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathian villages, two intoxicated men came up and started to bully them, ignoring their press cards. The crew moved to another place to be able to continue its work, but the men drove after the reporters; they hit the cameraman on the leg and attempted to knock a girl journalist down with their car. She called the police.

“A group of operatives was sent to check the circumstances and establish the identity of the persons who interfered with the reporters’ work,” Transcarpathian police spokesman Oleg Podebriy said. “The journalists officially reported a criminal offence committed against them.”

The attackers have not been detained pending a court decision. If convicted of hindering the journalists’ work, they may be in for up to three years in prison.

[Podrobnosti report, 22 October]

 

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Journalist Stanislav Mikryukov denied right of Russian citizenship for sixth time this year

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Federal Migration Service (FMS) and presidential administration have again – for the sixth time this year – declined to grant Russian citizenship to Tomsk-based journalist Stanislav Mikryukov. In the latest denial, dated 21 October, a deputy head of the FMS central board warned the journalist he should not even bother to apply again, since “the head of a government agency is entitled to independently decide that further correspondence on a subject matter is irrelevant and to unilaterally terminate it”.

The latter point, though, hardly ever matters, since the content of citizenship denials has remained unchanged since 2002. “Their purely formal replies look like robot messages – I myself have got tired of receiving those,” Mikryukov wrote on the Novo-tomsk.ru news portal.

Mikryukov was born in Uzbekistan during the Soviet era, when one’s particular birthplace did not matter much, since all had one big home country, the USSR. When it fell apart, Stanislav’s family, like many others, joined the group of expatriates; he still has this status after 16 years of living and working in Tomsk, Siberia.

It seems government officials – at least those he has dealt with – don’t care for expatriates at all, the journalist noted. “Russian immigrants from other ex-Soviet countries, particularly those with an education, are not wanted [in Russia] in any capacity: they are looked upon as ‘troublesome and harmful characters’ whom the country should seek to get rid of, giving priority to labourers, of whom 70% don’t even speak elementary Russian,” Mikryukov wrote on the same portal, drawing the conclusion that those at the helm are ready to have him and his likes “only as humble slaves having no rights”.

Stanislav graduated from the Tomsk Polytechnic Institute – one of the best higher schools both in the Soviet Union and in today’s Russia, according to the Education Ministry’s rating. For the past few years, he has engaged in investigative journalism, otherwise known as “honest reporting” – a genre requiring a journalist to dig deep into various unseemly schemes to bring the truth to light.

He has “dug up” many interesting facts about representatives of the local ruling elite. Novo-tomsk.ru has carried his reports (signed by the pen name “Sergei Petrovsky”) about the regional Duma paying 12 million roubles from the budget to provide an apartment for the regional police chief, who did not actually need it as the owner of a 700 sq. m house in which he lived with his wife; and about its spending another round sum on a Hyundai Equus for Tomsk ex-Mayor Nikolaichuk. His other publications included a report on a road accident that involved Justice of the Peace Ananyeva, common-law wife of the city prosecutor who, in his turn, is son of the former chief of the regional police department, etc.

Very few regional media have ever carried similar “killer” stories, giving Aleksandr Deyev, a former chief editor of the newspaper Tomskaya Nedelya, a reason to describe Novo-tomsk.ru as “the city’s single high-quality media outlet seriously opposed to corruption”.

It is Mikryukov’s acting as a whistleblower that has been the main barrier to his getting Russian citizenship; moreover, it once brought him to the brink of deportation for “committing an administrative offence” – for “non-reporting to the FMS information about his place of residence and his level of income” (although no one had ever notified him about what particular information he was supposed to report, or when).

True, after RF Journalists’ Union President Vsevolod Bogdanov appealed to FMS Chief Konstantin Romodanovsky, the regional FMS department changed its attitude. Its head Aleksandr Romanov promised to Mikryukov he would receive a residence permit in February and his Russian citizenship “in spring”. The first part of the promise was fulfilled with a three-month delay, and the second has been postponed for at least 5 years, as migration service officials informed him.

He is certain to “commit” some other “offence” in the next five years and may again face the prospect of deportation. Meanwhile, the authorities have cudgelled their brains over how to get rid of the critical web portal: they blocked it at the city electoral committee’s initiative on 9 October, causing Novo-tomsk.ru to change its Internet address…

 

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.

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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:
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