18 Июня 2014 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 665

16 June 2014

The next digest edition will be released after the end of the GDF team’s summer vacations.



Ukrainian journalist detained on wrong side of border

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Russian border guards on 14 June detained a Ukrainian citizen for illegally crossing the border into Russia near Chertkovo village, Rostov Region, the press service of the FSB’s Border Department reported.

The detainee was later identified as Anastasia Stanko, correspondent for the Ukrainian television channel Gromadskoye TV, and her action as one punishable under RF Administrative Code Article 18.1.2. After paying the established fine, she was “handed over to the Ukrainian side at a meeting of border service representatives”, the report said.

It is not clear whether Stanko deliberately violated the border regime: in the district centre of Chertkovo in Rostov Region’s north, the frontier between Russia and Ukraine runs right along streets and across backyards; in all the other districts it runs across fields and groves and is not explicitly marked in any way, for which reason it is only known to local residents and smugglers.

Meanwhile, one of Rostov-based newspapers has carried an article titled “Violating the Border”, whose author told a story of his crossing the frontier “without a migrant’s card”. He was lucky not to get caught and was able to visit Cossack outposts on the other side of the border and successfully return to Russia.

New charges brought against journalist and blogger Sergei Reznik

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

The authorities on 11 June charged the Rostov-based journalist and blogger Sergei Reznik with insulting a government official (an offence punishable under Criminal Code Article 319). This is already a fourth episode in the new criminal case started against Reznik after his posting in his LiveJournal blog a text describing a situation that had given him reasons to suspect one of the police operatives who participated in his arrest, of paedophilia.

Apart from the police officer, those claiming insulted by his publication were Mr Klimov, Rostov Region former deputy prosecutor (see digest 630), and Mr Ishchenko, former deputy chief of the regional police department’s unit against economic crime.

As we reported earlier, the Pervomaisky district court in Rostov-on-Don on 26 November 2013 found Reznik guilty under three Criminal Code articles (of insulting a government official, of a priori false reporting about an alleged crime, and of bribe-taking), and sentenced him to 18 months in a general-regime penal colony (see digest 638). Now that new criminal proceedings have been started against him, Reznik has been transferred from the colony in the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, where he was serving his time, to Penal Colony No. 5 in Rostov.

Perm resident accused of extremist calls urges FSB to check with European judicial practices

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The criminal case against Roman Yushkov, an assistant professor with the State Scientific Research University of Perm accused of committing two crimes (against the constitutional system and national security) by publishing his article “A Fit of Hysteria, Pugachev-Style” in the newspaper Zvezda on 19 July 2013, has been submitted to court, the regional prosecutor’s office announced on 10 June.

As we have reported, Yushkov’s publication pointing to the need to resist North Caucasian criminal outrage drew close attention from law enforcement. Last July, the local FSB department started legal proceedings against Yushkov under Criminal Code Article 280.2 (“Public calls in the media for acts of extremism”). On 5 February this year, Perm Region Deputy Prosecutor Aleksandr Deryshov asked a court of law to declare the article’s content extremist (see digest 656). And on 13 March, the investigative department in the Motovilikhinsky district of Perm started an investigation in line with Criminal Code Article 282 (“Instigation of hatred or enmity, or disparagement of human dignity, using the media”). The two criminal cases were then united into one.

Yushkov has been denying any malicious intent on his part. With reference to ECHR practices, he reminded Russian law enforcement that freedom of expression covers not only “information” or “ideas” that are deemed to be harmless or neutral, but also those that insult, shock or trouble people (as in the 1976 case “Handyside v. the United Kingdom”, paragraph 41). Ideas giving rise to public debates – and it was with this goal in mind that Yushkov published his article – need to be specially protected, he argued.

In an interview for the GDF, Yushkov pointed out that the conclusions by linguistic experts from the Special Technology Centre at the FSB Institute of Criminalistics in Moscow and the results of an expert study of the text by psychologists and linguists at the Urals Region Forensic Studies Centre in Yekaterinburg, in his view, are at odds with RF Supreme Court Instruction No.11 of 28 June 2011, “On Judicial Practices in Handling Cases Involving Charges of Extremism”.

The supreme judicial authority at the time explained that experts cannot be asked to assess actions the assessment of which is deemed to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of courts. When ordering expert studies of materials pertaining to the Yushkov case, the FSB asked the experts to answer “clearly juridical questions – whether the calls contained in the article were calls for acts of extremism, and whether the article contained any calls designed to instigate hatred or enmity, or disparage a person’s or a group of persons’ dignity,” Yushkov said.

The criminal case is to be heard by the Motovilikhinsky district court of Perm within the next 30 days.



Management of Russian Journalists’ Union sends open letter to Krasnodar Region journalists

By Galina Tashmatova, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Vyacheslav Smeyukha, secretary of the Krasnodar branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union (RJU) has been accused of “separatism”.

A protocol of intention was signed at the end of May to establish an RF Association of Journalistic Unions (AJU). The document was signed by leaders of three RJU branches – Pavel Gusev, chief editor of the Moscow-based newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets; Lyudmila Fomicheva, president of ZAO Interfax-Northwest; and Vyacheslav Smeyukha, chief editor of the Krasnodar-based newspaper Kubanskiye Novosti. The AJU proclaimed as one of its strategic goals “establishing a professional union of Russian journalists” – to counterbalance the RJU, which the AJU organisers criticised for its poor work efficiency.

Soon after the protocol was signed, Kubanskiye Novosti carried an article containing critical assessments of RJU performance by Vitaly Ignatenko, a senator representing the Krasnodar Region and a former general director of the ITAR-TASS news agency, and by Pavel Gusev, chairman of the Journalists’ Union of Moscow. Specifically, speaking at late May’s festival of Krasnodar media, Ignatenko said that the RJU “has been turning a blind eye to problems facing the regional press”; and Gusev said that “the incumbent RJU leaders have discredited themselves”.

The RJU Secretariat has sent Vyacheslav Smeyukha a reply letter that was not published, though, either in his newspaper or on the regional RJU branch’s website.

Meanwhile, the future of the Krasnodar branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union was discussed at a meeting of its Secretariat on 22 May 2014, as part of a debate on the issue, “The prospects of Krasnodar RJU branch development: renaming the creative organisation and amending its charter”. At the subsequent meeting of the branch management on 5 May, its members, without going into detail about pending reform, voted to call a conference on 26 May, to be attended by about 200 delegates from across the region.

Last Monday, amid the local nomination of delegates hardly knowing anything at all about the pending conference’s agenda, the management of the Krasnodar RJU branch and the chief editors of the regional media received by e-mail a letter from the union leaders in Moscow, who attempted to shed light on what was going on.

The letter said, in part:

“In view of the situation within the RJU branch of Krasnodar, whose leaders, in our view, have embarked on the dangerous path of declaring their organisation’s ‘independence’ from the federal structure, the RJU Secretariat thinks it essential to address the Krasnodar colleagues directly. We have reasons to believe that the initiators are deliberately concealing information about the actual state of affairs, and are hiding their real plans not only from us but also, and primarily, from those whose interests they are supposed to represent.

“Krasnodar branch chairman V. Smeyukha has violated – even if from a purely formal point of view – the rules of work accepted within our organisation by failing to present information that we have been trying hard to obtain from him; moreover, he has directly misinformed the RJU Secretariat by hushing up his intentions and by denying us a chance to communicate our viewpoint to colleagues. We emphasise the point that we are prepared to accept any – even the harshest – criticism, but this is exactly what has been lacking. No criticism was voiced either during last year’s RJU congress or during the plenary meetings of the Council of the Federation which the Council members representing Krasnodar, regrettably, have not attended at all. We have only heard their unsubstantiated accusations typically made orally and from afar, which practice has reduced chances of a mutually respectful dialogue to naught. Even after publishing in the newspaper of which he is editor-in-chief his unsubstantiated and insulting charges against the ‘big’ union, V. Smeyukha – in violation of the law – has prevented us from exercising our right of publishing a reply.

“In view of the above, we intend to put up our relationships with the leaders of the Krasnodar journalistic community for public discussion; those relationships, in our view, have become abnormal and inacceptable. We also are e-mailing all of the attached documents to all members of the Krasnodar branch’s Board and to the regional media.”

The ethical aspects of the conflict aside, ordinary RJU members and members of the Krasnodar branch Secretariat have tried to find out what legal consequences the branch’s likely secession from the RJU might lead to. As can be gathered from the RJU letter, the regional organisation’s split-up is inevitable: the branch group cannot secede from the RJU because it never joined it as a legal entity (in line with Article 4.1 of the charter, only individuals can be members of the Journalists’ Union). Amending the charter, specifically as regards renaming the branch so as to reflect the nature of its activities as required under Article 4 of the Federal Law on NGOs, and the fact of its being part of the RJU, would result in the cancellation of the branch group members’ RJU membership. Reorganising or liquidating the branch would cause the RJU to establish a new affiliate organisation in the Krasnodar Region in line with Article 14 of the Federal Law on Public Associations and Article 6.1 of the RJU charter.

The forthcoming conference will no doubt decide on the Krasnodar branch’s secession from the Russian Journalists’ Union, because most local media outlets have been established by government administrations, and their staff journalists will do as they are told to. By tradition, the Krasnodar branch of the RJU has been led by journalists employed by pro-government media, and it is with them that the regional branch used to work for the most part. Journalists employed by other media, which are much more numerous than the official ones, have for decades remained beyond the focus of the regional union’s attention, left to their own devices.

This means if a new branch of the RJU is ever to be established in the Krasnodar region, it will have nothing else to do but stake on the independent regional media.



2014 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” continues

The jury of the 2014 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” continues accepting works submitted for this year’s contest. The 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, 2013 and October 15, 2014 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’.”

For further details about the Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”, click on www.gdf.ru.

Contact phone: (+7 495) 637-4947.

Russian Journalists’ Union calls for immediate release of Zvezda film crew

The Russian Journalists’ Union has called for an end to violations of the rights of two Zvezda TV channel staffers – correspondent Yevgeny Davydov and sound engineer Nikita Konashenkov – detained in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, on 14 June, and for their immediate release.

Zvezda’s workers Y. Davydov and N. Konashenkov must be released without delay,” the RJU Secretariat said in a statement. “It is not for the first time that the RJU is calling to respect journalists’ rights and demanding that violations of their rights shall be stopped as an inacceptable practice contradicting all international norms. We want our colleagues to be released immediately.”

[Lenizdat.ru report, 16 June]


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:
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