12 Декабря 2013 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 639

9 December 2013



Putin decrees to improve government-owned media’s efficiency

Russian President Vladimir Putin on 9 December signed the decree “On Certain Measures to Improve the Efficiency of Operation of State-Owned Media”.

He decreed to form a federal state unitary enterprise, “The International News Agency ‘Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today)’”, which will focus on “providing foreign coverage of the Russian Federation’s government policy and public life”. The new entity will be based at 4, Zubovskiy Boulevard, buildings 1, 2 and 3, in Moscow.

The same presidential decree liquidated the state radio company Golos Rossii (The Voice of Russia) and the international news agency RIA Novosti; their assets are to be taken over by Russia Today, which will be led by General Director Dmitry Kiselyov, a journalist notorious for his comparing Putin to Stalin “in terms of the scope, not methods, of their work”, since “the cost of Russia’s breakthroughs under Stalin is unacceptable, while the scope of tasks aimed to improve life in this country is comparable”, Utro.ru reported.

The reorganisation aims to both improve efficiency and cut down expenditure, according to Kremlin administration spokesman Sergei Ivanov.

While the reorganisation’s purposes need to be additionally analysed to understand, one thing is already clear: the presidential decree brings Russia’s propaganda resources under one-man strong-hand control.


More pre-Olympiad detentions of journalists near Sochi reported

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

A Czech TV film crew was detained near Sochi, Krasnodar Region, on 6 December. Chief correspondent Miroslav Karas and cameraman Tomaš Horak, officially accredited with the Russian foreign ministry, were shooting a report about preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics when they were surrounded by a group of armed men in camouflage uniform, presumably border guards.

The men, who did not identify themselves or show any documents, said the journalists had ventured into a specially guarded near-border zone. They questioned the reporters about the purposes of their trip to Russia, their education and place of residence, and then told them to read and sign a “protocol of administrative offence”.

The journalists refused to, and Karas wrote on the protocol form he did not understand what it was all about, and therefore he would not sign it. The crew members phoned to the Czech Republic’s embassy in Moscow, whose officials contacted the Russian foreign ministry. As a result, Karas and Horak got back their documents and were released. Parting with them, the officer who led the camouflage group told the Czechs, “You’ve made me a real celebrity in Sochi today!”

Local journalists say that just a few days ago, there was no border checkpoint anywhere near the place where the Czech journalists were detained.

About a month ago, Krasnodar Region police detained several times reporter Eistein Bogen and cameraman Oge Eyun, members of a Swedish TV2 channel film crew, who similarly were shooting video sequences about preparations for the Sochi Olympiad. Last time, Russia’s foreign ministry had to apologise to the journalists for the police officers’ wrongful behaviour (see digest 635). It seems Sochi is becoming increasingly hazardous place to report from.

Journalists in Tyumen ousted from courtroom during hearing of complaint about observers ousted from polling station

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Leninsky district court in Tyumen has heard a legal claim lodged by a former Communist party nominee for a City Duma seat, Leonid Lipa, behind closed doors for no evident reason. Lipa was protesting a district electoral committee’s allegedly unlawful actions during the 8 September municipal election – specifically, its ousting Lipa’s representative Nikolai Stannishchuk from the polling station during the vote count despite his status of an electoral committee member with advisory voice.

Committee chairwoman Yelena Seleznyova told the court she had asked Stannishchuk out because of his “constantly getting in the way – coming too near, asking too many questions, and attempting to videotape the proceedings”. Although the reporters attending the court hearing behaved quietly, not venturing to use cameras or ask questions, Seleznyova asked the judge to remove the press from the courtroom before considering the legal claim on the merits. She did not explain why, but Judge Tatyana Gusarkova satisfied her request without commenting.

There was nothing secret about that legal claim, regional Communist party committee activists told the GDF. In the course of the hearing, though, it turned out that votes had been counted by district electoral committee members in a manner that Lipa sees as “wrong and unlawful” – instead of unfolding the ballot papers and putting them one upon another into a stack, they had “leafed through them quickly much the way one counts bank notes”. Evidently, the judge thought this method to be “classified”, although it’s no one’s secret many electoral committees count money more accurately than votes: during the latest election, for example, they paid 5,000 roubles (approx. US$150) per person to observers for their refraining to interfere with the vote-counting process, according to Nashgorod.ru and Tyumen Communist party committee reports.

Nine more of his representatives, two of them electoral committee members with deliberative functions, were ousted from polling stations on the voting day, Lipa told GDF. Some had the time to video-record some voting and vote-counting episodes with their cell phones. One observer, for example, recorded a United Russia party activist throwing in papers into a ballot box – an incident that ended in a fistfight between the two men. “Actually, all the district electoral committee offices had been cleared of ‘strangers’ – Communist and other political party representatives – by the time they started counting the votes,” Lipa said.

As expected, the Leninsky district court turned his legal claim down. Lipa intends to challenge this decision before the regional court of appeals.

Physician at law with media in Smolensk

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

A legal claim is under consideration at the Promyshlenny district court in Smolensk, lodged by a local drug and alcohol physician, Olga Kirsanova, against the Media Group TM, owner of the Gorodnews.ru website, and the television channel REN-TV Smolensk.

Traffic police officers stopped her car in early February 2012 and, on suspicion of her being in a state of intoxication, suggested she should take a test for alcohol. They drove her to the nearest hospital, but Kirsanova refused to undergo an examination, accusing the policemen of breaking some procedural rules. The officers then made a protocol of an administrative offence, having videotaped all the proceedings from beginning to end.

A few days later, the video sequences were shown on REN-TV Smolensk and posted on the television company’s website. A report about the incident appeared also on the Gorodnews.ru website. Commentaries to the video clip said a lady physician, who is an expert in treating drug addicts and alcoholics, was detained for suspected drunk driving and refused to undergo a medical examination. The report and the video sequences drew extensive comments in the Internet; some people recognized the woman and published her name for everyone to know.

Kirsanova considers all the published video, audio and textual information “untrue and smearing”. She insists she was fully sober that day and wants the court to order that the shameful information be removed from the relevant websites.

Two media outlets in Sverdlovsk Region compete in scandal-driven journalism

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

What happened to one of the Middle Urals region’s oldest newspapers, Kachkanarskiy Rabochiy (KR), is a pretty typical situation: after the latest mayoral election in the city of Kachkanar, a new chief editor, Dmitry Khrustalyov, was introduced to the staff. Unwilling to work with his predecessor, Gennady Trushnikov, the new boss urged him to retire on pension. Yet the entire team of journalists volunteered to quit along with their old-time leader…

One might label Khrustalyov “a despot” – but there is one “but”: it was Trushnikov who sold a package of KR shares to the Provintsiya media holding, an affiliate of OAO Evraz, the owner of the ore-dressing and processing plant around which the city was originally built. Moreover, Trushnikov worked for a period of time as the plant’s chief spokesman – but resigned and returned to his newspaper. After Provintsiya was liquidated earlier this year, Evraz bought out its shareholdings.

The new mayor of Kachkanar, elected in September as a representative of Evraz, preferred to appoint another person to lead KR. Trushnikov, who is a pretty strong editor, decided against sitting idle and started – together with his former KR team – a new newspaper project, Novy Kachkanar.

Nice, one might say: the two media outlets should compete with each other, and with other independent media in Kachkanar, for the readers’ trust! Yet, as we all know, the surest way to draw public attention is to stir up a scandal. So the two newspapers – Trushnikov’s and Khrustalyov’s – are quarrelling with each other as loudly as they can.

The newly-recruited KR team is pretty good, to Khrustalyov’s merit. Suffice it to say the chief editor’s post went to Margarita Konovalova, who had already led the newspaper at one time before resigning after – just think of it! – a conflict with Trushnikov. For the subsequent few years, she successfully headed her own private newspaper, Kachkanarka.

As we see, passions in the comparatively small city of Kachkanar are flying high. It is up to the readers to draw conclusions and make their choices.

Police seize reporters’ passports in Rostov Region

When Yelena Vlasenko and Dmitry Florin, correspondents for the newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno, arrived in Nizhneyaninsky village in the Salsky District, Rostov Region, to prepare a story about problems facing Meskhetian Turks and to cover a photo exhibition about that ethnic group’s deportation [from their historical regions of habitat in southern and south-west Georgia in Stalin’s times], local police attempted to prevent the journalists from doing their work.

Major Konstantin Ponomaryov, the local deputy police chief, took away their passports – allegedly “to have them photocopied and checked against the police databases”, since the reporters “might be runaway criminals wanted by Interpol”.

Their attempts to explain to the major they were fulfilling an editorial assignment were in vain, as were their assurances they had asked different local authorities in advance to facilitate their reporting efforts.

It was not until the journalists phoned the Interior Ministry’s press centre in Moscow, where an official advised the major to return to the reporters their seized documents, that Ponomaryov finally did so. He did not take the trouble to apologize, Sovershenno Sekretno noted.



Newsroom searched in Almaty

A group of finance police officers came to Almaty’s Panorama Centre late on 5 December, announcing they would “search the premises and confiscate material evidence”. They refused to show an investigator’s or prosecutor’s warrant to carry out the search. The officers seized accounts and records, personnel lists and other documents, as well as desktop and notebook computers.

The visitors cited a “report about financial violations” allegedly filed with the police by a former Panorama employee.

The Panorama Centre is a newsroom providing and circulating via Youtube news stories about political, economic, social and cultural life in Kazakhstan.

[Adilsoz.kz report, 6 December]


Several dozen reporters beaten while covering protest actions

More than 50 journalists have been injured since the protests in Kiev began. Many reporters say servicemen of the Golden Eagle riot police did not pay any attention to reporters’ press cards, photo and video equipment, or orange vests. In some cases, law enforcers deliberately targeted cameras and tore off newsmen’s breast badges.

Police have started criminal proceedings based on all complaints about attacks on media workers during protest actions. Of the 26 beating complaints filed, two are being handled by the Interior Ministry, and the rest have been forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.

Along with Ukrainian journalists, the group of victims includes Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and European Pressphoto Agency reporters, as well as their Russian colleagues.

Data about those hurt have been published by blogger Zoya Kazanzhi based on media and Facebook reports.

For the full list of victims, see ukranews.com



Russia’s FSB covers criminal?

Open letter to FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov

Dear Mr Bortnikov:

As you know, FSB Lt.-Col. Vadim Pozdyshev was fired in July 2011 from the agency you lead for stealing money that the international staff of the Russian-language Armenian newspaper Tretya Sila Plus (TSP) had honestly earned and kept with Moscow’s AlfaBank. This fact has been confirmed not only by TSP sources in Russia but also by the testimony given by Pozdyshev’s relatives and FSB colleagues (we can send you copies of their handwritten reports, if the FSB in interested in crimes committed by its own agents).

In other words, Russia’s FSB has acknowledged the criminal nature of Pozdyshev’s behaviour and “punished” him for robbing the journalists – even banned him from travelling abroad – but has not been in a hurry, to put it mildly, to return our stolen money to us. Moreover, it helped the offender to get another job by transferring him to the post of the head of analysis with RBE Group.

The crime he committed caused TSP to suspend its operation. Now, nearly two and a half years after, no one at your organisation, in violation of effective Russian legislation, has taken the trouble to at least question the eyewitnesses in this case, despite our repeated appeals and the fact that criminal proceedings against Pozdyshev were started as early as 2010. Still worse, FSB chief spokesman, Mr Zakharov, cynically wrote to us that the FSB was terminating correspondence regarding this matter – without explaining why or telling us when our stolen money would be returned.

Mr FSB Director, we are informing you once again: our newspaper has all the material, documentary and other evidence, as well as witnesses’ testimony, to prove the fact of robbery that caused an Armenian media outlet to suspend its operation. Hopefully, the FSB is interested in solving this appalling crime and restoring law and order in this particular case. We are ready to present to you all the facts and evidence proving that we tell the truth. In parallel, we would recommend that you question Yelena A. Guseva, a member of the FSB central board, who was the direct superior of Pozdyshev the thief (we are even prepared to inform you about her whereabouts, to help the FSB find her within one of its secret units and talk to her to clear up the situation). We are sure she will be able to tell much about her subordinate’s criminal actions in Armenia and Russia, including how he hid the journalists’ stolen money at home, fearing a search by law enforcement. We are attaching a photo of the offender, for your agency to clearly understand who we are talking about.

We very much hope, Mr Bortnikov, that the notion of “an officer’s honour” means something to you, and that you know very well the Russian law’s provision envisaging especially severe liability for covering criminals. We […] also hope that Armenia’s integration into the Tax, Eurasian and other Unions, which the Russian embassy in Yerevan has been lobbying day and night and which has started with robbery and the closure of independent Armenian media outlets, is nothing more than an annoying misunderstanding, rather than a deliberate policy of infringing the rights and liberties of Armenian citizens. Also, we hereby inform you that the TSP team will no longer tolerate the outrageously criminal behaviour of your officials or the FSB’s deliberate procrastination – for more than two years – about deciding this issue, all hints and threats from the RF embassy to the Republic of Armenia notwithstanding.

Nelson Sarkisyan, TSP executive director
Irina Marutyan, TSP deputy chief editor



Nominees for Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” named

The Jury of the 2013 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” (held annually since 2001) invites journalists to attend a ceremony to honour the winners, scheduled to take place at Moscow’s Central House of Journalists (8a, Nikitskiy Boulevard, Arbatskaya metro station) at 3 p.m. on 15 December.

This year’s competition attracted journalists from dozens of regions across the Russian Federation, including Siberia, the Far East, the Caucasus, the Volga Region and the Urals. The winner and nominees will be sent special invitations to attend the festive ceremony in Moscow, where they will receive prizes and diplomas. The Jury’s diplomas will be handed (to those living outside Moscow, will be sent by mail) to each finalist and each media outlet that published the winner’s and nominees’ writings.

The group of nominees includes Sergei Sokolov, newspaper Novaya Gazeta (Moscow); Yelena Vlasenko, newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno (Moscow); Yelena Suslova, newspaper Otkrytaya Dlya Vsekh I Kazhdogo (Mineralniye Vody, Stavropol Region); Yulia Suntsova, newspaper Den (Izhevsk); and Vladimir Vorsobin, newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (Moscow).

The Jury:

Chairman: A. K. Simonov, President, Glasnost Defence Foundation (Moscow)


  • Bonet Pilar, correspondent, newspaper El Pais (Spain);
  • G. E. Borodyansky, correspondent, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, winner of 2011 A. Sakharov Award (Omsk);
  • Peter Vince, Award founder (USA);
  • V. V. Voronov, columnist, newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno, winner of 2010 A. Sakharov Award (Moscow);
  • B. V. Dubin, sociologist, Levada Centre (Moscow);
  • A. S. Lebedeva, editor, newspaper Moy Kavkaz, winner of 2006 A. Sakharov Award (Rostov-on-Don);
  • M. S. Muslimova, assistant professor, Russian Language and Literature Methods of Teaching Department, Dagestan State University;
  • I. V. Naidyonov, special reporter, Russkiy Reporter magazine, winner of 2005 A. Sakharov Award;
  • A. B. Pankin, chief editor, Strategiya I Praktika Izdatelskogo Biznesa (IFRA-GIPP) magazine (Moscow);
  • T. A. Sedykh, chief editor, newspaper Moyo Poberezhye, winner of 2009 A. Sakharov Award (Vanino township, Khabarovsk Region);
  • Gregory White, head of Moscow office, The Wall Street Journal;
  • Y. L. Chernyshov, columnist, newspaper Bogatey (Saratov);
  • A. R. Shirikyan, publisher, Cigar Clan magazine (Moscow);
  • Susanne Scholl, ex-director, Moscow office, ORF television channel (Austria).

Executive secretary: B. M. Timoshenko, Glasnost Defence Foundation (Moscow)


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
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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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