Дайджест
10 Апреля 2014 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 655

7 April 2014

 

RUSSIA

Bureaucrats in Omsk declare themselves “inaccessible” to the press

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Journalists in Omsk have been prohibited to approach higher-than-the-medium-level regional officials for purposes of asking questions. Orders to that effect were issued not so long ago by the regional governor’s chief of staff, Sergei Kreshchuk. In a complaint to the regional prosecutor, Natalya Kalinina, a correspondent for the SuperOmsk news website, wrote that the above-named official, evidently discontented with the questions she’d put to Internal Policy Department head Mikhail Karakoz, publicly threatened to bar her “from the regional administration headquarters”.

Karakoz’s appointment is a separate story; many independent media in Omsk have written much on that subject. It is not clear who in person helped him work up so high a career, but his candidacy was coordinated with the presidential administration. Prior to that, he was secretary of the regional Political Council of the ruling United Russia party and curator of the URP youth wing. In that capacity, he became notorious for involvement in two scandals. One, he organised a patriotic action “The Immortal Regiment” (the URP youth wing in Omsk had stolen the idea from journalists in Tomsk), receiving half a million roubles from the regional budget for the purpose and transferring that money, as established by the police, to the bank account of an outsider company the director of which had not signed any contract with the action organisers. Two, young activists he was in charge of were accused of inciting inter-ethnic strife: the police traced down pro-Nazi comments left on a web chat forum to the IP address of the URP office in Omsk.

Evidently, it was those two scandals that raised Karakoz’s standing in the eyes of his nationalist-minded bosses high enough for them to put him in charge of the regional administration’s Internal Policy Department – a position making him “inaccessible” to the press without his personal authorisation, as Natalya Kalinina was told by officials of that department.

Even with the previous governor, Leonid Polezhayev, at the helm, regional administration officials seldom were as conceited as that, although the governor himself typically kept reporters who liked to ask “awkward” questions at arm’s length. Yet there was at least some kind of hierarchical “order” within his team, where each official knew exactly how much he was worth.

His successor declared “bridging the gap between power and the people” to be one of his highest priorities. “Don’t forget we all are nothing more than their [the people’s] employees,” he said addressing his administration. While Governor Nazarov is claiming to be a “people’s servant”, members of the team he inherited from Polezhayev must be thinking they are “big bosses”. Clearly, that’s not the way things should be. When an employee is rude to a representative of the employer, he is likely to be told either to apologise to the one he insulted or to hear “You’re fired!” In one good precedent described in digest 593, public activists made a colonel of the Omsk police apologise to journalists for his rude behaviour during a “zombie parade” in the city.

Officials of all ranks should remember that we, the people of Russia, the honest taxpayers, maintain them all at our own expense and therefore we are their masters; if we catch them doing something wrong, we may as well kick them out, while they are in no position to ban our entry to any of their offices.

Natalya Kalinina did a wise thing by tape-recording her opponents’ remarks to be able to present to the prosecutor’s office evidence of official rudeness that is insulting to any citizen of this country and constitutes a legally punishable offence – interference with a journalist’s lawful professional work. Journalists throughout the Omsk Region should stand up for their colleague and uphold the honour of our profession.

Pro-administration newspaper suffers from crackdown on the press in Chelyabinsk Region

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

In the city of Kopeisk, Chelyabinsk Region, the newspaper Kopeiskiy Rabochiy (KR), known to be absolutely loyal to both federal and local authorities, has been subjected to repression along with other media for featuring allegedly extremist content.

Early on 2 April the newspaper’s website found itself inaccessible and its IP address blocked. As it turned out later, the Central district court in Barnaul, Siberia, required the internet service provider to restrict access to the video clip “The Last Interview of ‘Maritime Guerrillas’”, which had been labelled extremist and banned for showing online by a court in Nizhny Novgorod back in March 2012.

A prosecutorial inspection in the Altai Region established that the republic’s residents using the services of RosTelecom might still access the extremist video from an IP address uniting more than 300 other websites. When the IP address got blocked, all those sites (as experts of the media oversight agency Roskomnadzor had warned as similar sanctions came to be first applied throughout Russia) became inaccessible, too.

KR had to urgently choose an alternative IP address and to defend itself against the unearned charges of extremism. The editorial board and KR lawyers are now checking out if it might be possible to get reputational damages paid to them by those who blocked their website. The site remained inoperative for nearly 24 hours; as is commonly known, internet audiences are too easily lost.

A Voronezh-based construction company at law with newspaper

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The Voronezh Region court of arbitration is considering a reputation-protection claim lodged by a construction company, OOO Vlamian, against the newspaper Trud-Chernozemye (TC) in the wake of a story, “Baby’s Dummy”, published by TC chief editor Yuri Pulver in January. The story described, among other things, some local housing construction projects contracted for by Vlamian.

A number of facts cited in the article pointed to the company’s failure to carry out its contractual obligations in full – an allegation that the plaintiff dismissed as “erroneous, smearing and damaging to the firm’s reputation”. The claim did not specify what particular damage Vlamian suffered as a result of the publication.

The company asked the court to require TC to publish a disclaimer.

 

KAZAKHSTAN

Newspaper Assandi-Times shut down

The bailiffs came to the office of the Almaty-based newspaper Assandi-Times at 11 a.m. on 2 April to drive the journalists out and seal the office. As it turned out, the action was carried out based on a warrant issued by the Medeu district court of Almaty one day before, with no notice given to the newspaper about either the pending court hearing or the very fact of a legal claim filed against it.

The district court ruled to shut down Assandi-Times as part of the unified media holding Respublika that united 8 newspapers and 23 web news sites, as established by a court decision dating back to the autumn of 2012, that sentenced all the constituent media outlets to closure for “extremism”, although not a single proof of their guilt was presented during that trial.

It should also be noted that Assandi-Times was officially registered already after the holding’s closure and it was not on the list of Respublika’s constituent entities.

[www.adilsoz.kz report, 2 April]

 

UKRAINE

Suspected killer of Vesti journalist detained by police

Law enforcement officers have detained the first suspect in the murder case of Vesti journalist Vyacheslav Veremiy.

The suspect’s detention took place back on 21 March, Vesti reported with reference to Ivan Beznosenko, defence lawyer for the late journalist’s family.

“An operative investigative group supported by Sokol (Falcon) riot policemen apprehended one of the active participants in the 18 February armed night attack at the crossing of Vladimirskaya and Bolshaya Zhitomirskaya streets on a Skoda taxi carrying Veremiy and his Vesti colleague Alexei L.,” Beznosenko said.

The detained suspect, he said, is facing charges of hooliganism and conspiring to commit a premeditated murder, as well as of attempts on the lives of Alexei L. and the taxi driver.

As we have reported, Vyacheslav Veremiy died at Kiev’s A&E Hospital early on 19 February (see digest 649) of the wounds he had received in a violent attack on the taxi he had taken to return home from work at around midnight. At a street crossing in downtown Kiev, a crowd of hooligans were firing shots and attacking passers-by. Four thugs threw flash-bang grenades at Veremiy’s taxi, pulled the passengers out and proceeded to ruthlessly beat them with iron bars. Three of the hooligans were beating the journalist and the fourth one was guiding them. Veremiy managed to break free and started to run, but a gunshot in the back stopped him. The wound turned out to be fatal.

[Vesti report, 2 April]

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in March 2014

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Vitaly Voznyuk, correspondent, Prizyv newspaper, Pskov Region)

Attacks on journalists – 2 (Artyom Mamochkin, journalist, Kaluga Vechernyaya newspaper, Kaluga Region; Ilya Lipkind, journalist, finance analyst and Saminvestor.ru website owner, Samara)

Instances of censorship – 4 (Kamchatka news agency, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky; Rolling Stone magazine, Moscow edition; Russian Planet web publication, Moscow; Ekho Moskvy v Peterburge website, and EkhoYezhenedelnik newspaper website, both based in St. Petersburg)

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 2 (Andrei Volkov, editor, Novo-tomsk.ru web news portal, Tomsk; Roman Yushkov, Zvezda newspaper, Perm)

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 3 (Aleksandr Yerenko, journalist, UralInform, Perm; Galina Timchenko, chief editor, Lenta.ru, Moscow; Vladimir Semago, anchor, Stolitsa.fm radio station, Moscow)

Detention by police (FSB, etc.) – 7 (Andrei Filimonov, freelance journalist, detained in Moscow; Daniil Turovsky, Lenta.ru correspondent, Moscow; Semyon Zakruzhny, correspondent, Dozhd TV Channel, Moscow; Pavel Mitskievich, correspondent, Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi, detained in Bryansk Region; Anna Boka, newsroom editor, and Pavel Bondarenko, cameraman, Ukrainian TV Channel 1+1, both detained in Vladikavkaz; Valery Badmayev, editor, Sovermennaya Kalmykiya newspaper, Elista; Pavel Andreyev, staff member, 7x7 web magazine, Syktyvkar, detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport)

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) – 16

Threats against journalists and media – 1 (Artyom Mamochkin, journalist, Kaluga Vechernyaya newspaper, Kaluga Region)

Withdrawal, purchase, or confiscation of print run – 4 (Sovremennaya Kalmykiya newspaper, Elista; Maloyaroslavetsky Krai and Mayar newspapers, both based in Kaluga Region; Gorozhanin-Irkutsk newspaper, Irkutsk)

Interference with internet publications – 16 (Russia Today TV channel’s website; website of Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper; websites of News Media Holding; Channel One’s website, twice; Spravedlivaya Gazeta newspaper’s website, Moscow; website of Kopeisky Rabochiy newspaper, Chelyabinsk Region; Kremlin.ru website; LiveJournal.ru website; Ekho Moskvy radio station’s website; Lenta.ru news agency’s website, twice; Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru, Yezhednevny Zhurnal websites; RIA Novosti news agency’s website)

Confiscation of/ damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 2 (video camera of NTV film crew, Moscow; PC of Ivan Sedush, journalist, Pervana Narodnaya Gazeta newspaper and Channel 23 correspondent, Rostov Region)

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 38

***

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

Lenizdat.ru: St. Petersburg journalists reply to Dmitry Kiselyov’s “defenders”

Novaya Gazeta: St. Petersburg journalists reply to Rossiya-1 staffers defending Kiselyov

Civitas.ru: General Prosecutor’s Office stands up for journalists

Civitas.ru: Journalist’s deportation cancelled

 

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Where is it, Russian freedom of expression? Open letter from St. Petersburg

By Roman Zakharov, GDF correspondent in North-Western Federal District

In response to the Russian state-controlled TV channel Rossiya-1 staff’s appeal in defence of television anchorman Dmitry Kiselyov, who is among the group of Russian officials subjected to EU sanctions, journalists in St. Petersburg have published an open letter of their own, asking their Moscow colleagues only one question: why freedom of expression in the EU countries is of greater concern to them than is freedom of expression in Russia.

In December Kiselyov, anchorman of the weekly news show Vesti Nedeli, was appointed director of the news agency Russia Today – the official mouthpiece for broadcasting homemade propaganda to foreign audiences. He has not had the time, though, to show his worth as a news agency head, so the EU sanctions were applied to him in direct connection with his coverage of the situation in Ukraine.

Not so long ago his reporting style was negatively assessed in Russia as well: on 25 February the Russian Public Board for Complaints about the Press concluded that his televised report “The Ukrainian Public Assembly. Euromaidan: Following in the Footsteps of ‘Varicoloured’ Revolutions”, shown in Vesti Nedeli on 8 December 2013, contained elements of propaganda and “distorted the facts of life to fit propagandistic patterns”.

On 26 March, Kiselyov’s colleagues at Rossiya-1 stood up for him, describing the EU sanctions as “prohibition to practise journalism”, calling on Russian and European journalists to support their colleague, and boldly putting the following five questions to the international media community:

  • Has Europe put the “Not for coverage” tag on certain topics?
  • Is expression of a journalist’s personal attitude to events legally punishable?
  • Are expert examination and trial no longer needed for judging how well or poorly a journalist performs?
  • Is the European Union empowered to impose sanctions on any journalist at all in connection with his/her professional work?
  • Are EU journalists now subject to potential sanctions for expressing their views, too?

In response to this impassioned appeal and these clearly rhetorical questions, another open letter was made public in St. Petersburg, strikingly different from the first one in its style: quiet impartiality backed with strict adherence to the factual side of the matter. The authors’ wondered why Kiselyov’s supporters had never (until the imposition of sanctions on Kiselyov) displayed a comparable degree of solidarity with any one of the many journalists repressed in Russia (with facts cited from the GDF database of journalist rights violations). They asked colleagues from Rossiya-1 the sole question: Why are you more concerned about the freedom-of-expression situation in the European Union than about that in Russia, where we all actually work? – and called on the entire media community to pool efforts in resisting censorship.

The initiators of the open letter (for its full text, see www.lenizdat.ru) told the GDF that journalists from across the Russian Federation have expressed active support for the appeal. It is open for signing to all journalists. To put your signature under that document, e-mail a message to journalism.spb@gmail.com , giving your full name, position and the name of the media outlet you work for.

 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

Journalists’ Unions of Ukraine and Russia express solidarity with colleagues in Crimea

The National Journalists’ Union of Ukraine (NJUU) and the Journalists’ Union of Russia (JUR) have expressed solidarity with the journalists living or temporarily working in Ukraine, and readiness to help colleagues in tackling their professional problems.

The NJUU Secretariat has held a meeting to discuss ways of establishing and maintaining contact with Union members who are staying in Crimea. It invited colleagues to turn to the NJUU office in Kiev for counselling on work-related matters, Union membership, and legal issues. The JUR, too, expressed readiness to provide support and assistance to colleagues in Crimea.

“Our two Unions agree that professional assistance to journalists is a common priority for us,” NJUU First Secretary Sergei Tomilenko said. “We are against attempts to politicise our work. Our Unions will combine their efforts, if need be, to help all journalists currently living and working in Crimea.”

“The main thing today is to give maximum help to all colleagues who need assistance from our two Unions,” JUR Secretary Nadezhda Azhgikhina, who is also Vice-President of the European Federation of Journalists, said. “We hope we will be able to provide the necessary support by concerted effort.”

On matters related to the provision of professional assistance, media workers are advised to contact the National Journalists’ Union of Ukraine by dialling (044) 234-5209 or (044) 235-8766 or by sending e-mail messages to: oblik@nsju.org , or to contact the Journalists’ Union of Russia by e-mailing requests to JUR Secretary Pavel Gutiontov: gutiontov@mail.ru , or to Nadezhda Azhgikhina: azh@ruj.ru .

Annual congress of European Federation of Journalists to be held in Moscow on 6-7 June

The Executive Committee of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has confirmed its January 2014 decision to hold this year’s EFJ Congress in Moscow. The large-scale, emotional discussion of the meeting’s agenda and the likely consequences for the media of the latest events in Crimea has presented a wide range of opinions and approaches while reaffirming the EFJ’s commitment to the basic principles of journalistic solidarity and journalistic independence, although these have increasingly often found themselves used as instruments of confrontation between opposing parties.

The Congress will focus on the ethical aspects and dignity of journalism in a conflict situation; also, it will provide a venue for a dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian journalists.

The Russian and Ukrainian Journalists’ Unions in mid-March held an extraordinary conference with the leaders of the European and International Federations of Journalists in Brussels to declare their commitment to professional solidarity and condemn both violations of journalist rights and media involvement in propaganda. They expressed readiness to cooperate in defending and supporting journalists in both countries and to contribute to promoting professional dialogue between them.

Training session for media lawyers held in Moscow

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

A training seminar for media lawyers was held in Moscow on 21–22 March, co-sponsored by the Voronezh-based Mass Media Defence Centre (MMDC).

At the opening session, MMDC director and senior legal expert Galina Arapova delivered a report on legal problems typically facing individual journalists and media outlets. In a follow-up general discussion, the trainees examined the latest changes to Russian media legislation.

Barbora Bukovská, Article 19 Senior Director for Law and Policy, made an overview of European laws regulating the circulation of information via the internet. She also told the audience about the standards used by the European Court of Human Rights in reviewing complaints pertaining to that area of media law. Damir Gainutdinov, legal analyst with the AGORA Inter-Regional Human Rights Association, gave an insight into Russian practices of blocking access to online information.

The second-day programme was dedicated to the study of advertising regulations. MMDC legal adviser Svetlana Kuzevanova began with a summary of the major problems occurring in the application of the Federal Law “On Advertising”, and then reviewed changes to the rules of advertising specific categories of goods and services.

Training seminar for journalists held in Vladikavkaz

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

A training seminar for North Caucasian journalists, co-sponsored by the Voronezh-based Mass Media Defence Centre (MMDC), the Journalists’ Union of Russia and the international human rights group “Article 19”, was held in Vladikavkaz, capital of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, on 26-27 March.

The seminar on journalistic ethics and media law opened with a discussion of general standards of professional journalism conducted by Higher School of Economics Professor Iosif Dzyaloshinsky. Then Galina Arapova, MMDC senior legal adviser, highlighted the major legal problems media outlets and individual journalists are likely to run into, with focus on legal claims in defence of honour, dignity and business reputation filed against the press.

On the second day, the trainees continued studying methods of safeguarding journalists’ legal security. An overview of typical defamation-related claims was followed by a lecture on copyrighted images, with emphasis on cases where image reproduction is allowed by law.

 

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.

Contacts:

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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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