8 Августа 2014 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 668

5 August 2014


Journalist dies a strange death in Kabardino-Balkaria

Public activist and journalist Timur Kuashev has been found dead in a suburb of Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria. His body was found on 1 August in a park where Kuashev used to go jogging. His family said he went missing late on 31 July, dressed in a sports suit and leaving his mobile phone behind. Investigators say a forensic examination showed no signs of a violent death, but Kuashev’s friends and colleagues believe he was killed: on the body there were several bruises and a suspected trace of an injection in the armpit.

Shortly before his death, Timur repeatedly received threats that he reported to the police. Yet law enforcers refused to start criminal proceedings “without serious grounds”. Also, Kuashev was under physical surveillance, according to Abdulla Duduyev, chief editor of Dosh magazine.

The public, including members of the Presidential Council for Developing Civil Society and Human Rights, are calling for a thorough investigation of the circumstances of Kuashev’s death. OSCE Press Freedom Representative Dunja Mijatovic, too, has urged the Russian authorities to order a full-scale investigation. Kabardino-Balkaria’s Investigative Committee pledged to carry out a deeper probe into the young journalist’s death. Autopsy findings have not been announced so far. Kuashev’s funeral took place on August 2.

Timur Kuashev co-operated with the human rights group Memorial, contributed reports to the web news portals Kavkazskaya Politika and Kavkazsky Uzel, and to the independent Caucasian magazine Dosh. Also, he was to run as a Yabloko Party nominee in September’s parliamentary elections. Yabloko, too, believes Kuashev died a violent death. “Public activists and journalists in the North Caucasus have long felt anything but secure. The authorities must do everything they can to have this killing fully investigated,” Yabloko Party leader Sergei Mitrokhin said.


Stones flung at journalists’ windows in Jewish Autonomous Region

By Anna Seleznyova, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

After a revealing publication in the Birobijan-based weekly newspaper Gazeta Na Dom, its staffers started receiving threats and insults. Chief Editor Sergei Buryndin had a stone thrown into his house through a window, and his deputy, Yelena Golub, had her door smeared with paint.

The journalists thought, quite reasonably, that all those were acts of retaliation for their publication about two mayoral officials’ selling off the municipal cinema Rodina (worth 17.1 million roubles) for only 7.8 million to two local businessmen, Sergei Minshin and Dmitry Pozdeyev. They reported the threats, as well as the broken window and paint-smeared door, to the police but their reports were not accepted, the newspaper Zolotoy Rog wrote.

They then had to appeal for protection far beyond the Jewish Autonomous Region – to the State Duma in Moscow and the authorities in St. Petersburg. Mikhail Starshinov, head of the Duma working group for promoting interaction between civil society and law enforcement, wrote to the General Prosecutor’s Office asking them to take a closer look at the case. It was not until MPs and members of the Expert Council at the Centre for Legal Assistance to Journalists interfered that the regional Investigative Committee did finally start legal proceedings under Criminal Code Article 159 (“Fraud”). Toward the end of June, a regional deputy prosecutor lodged a legal claim with the arbitration court in Birobijan, asking for several clauses of the agreement on establishing the new limited-liability company (Rodina’s new owner) to be declared null and void, and for the theatre to be returned to its former owner, the municipality. The prosecutor’s office thereby confirmed the accuracy of the facts reported by Gazeta Na Dom.

Editor under investigation on extortion charges in Chelyabinsk

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Igor Makarov, chief editor of the news agency ChelNovosti.ru, has been detained by police in the wake of an extortion-attempt report filed against him by the furniture company Mnogo Mebeli Ltd.

“Mnogo Mebeli manager Ivan Bannykh handed me 30,000 roubles [as a reward for removing a compromising publication from the website – Author.], after which I was detained by officers of the police unit against economic crime,” Makarov told the GDF. “After filing written explanations, I went home.”

According to him, the furniture company management has put pressure on journalists in many regions of Russia to remove unfavourable publications by threatening them or by offering rewards and then reporting “extortion attempts” to the police.

“If Mnogo Mebeli thinks it has an impeccable reputation, why pay me for removing my first publication and offering to pay for removing a second one?” Makarov wondered. “Evidently, because the information we report is accurate. I’ve lodged a counterclaim against them. The company management are trying hard to whitewash their reputation; they seem to be unaware that by squealing the way they do, they damage their company’s image badly.”

No criminal proceedings have so far been started against ChelNovosti.ru or journalist Igor Makarov. The city police are conducting a probe to establish the true circumstances of the incident.

Makarov did write about the furniture firm on his website. In December, he posted an article titled “Mnogo Mebeli Faces Gloomy Prospects”, which said the company was artificially increasing its debts and establishing façade firms to evade taxes throughout Russia. After protracted negotiations with Mnogo’s division head Dmitry Miroshnikov, the editor agreed to remove the story from his website. Miroshnikov paid 15,000 roubles in reward to the news site from his personal account with Alpha Bank.

Late in July, ChelNovosti.ru posted another article, “Mnogo Mebeli Gives Chelyabinsk Residents Much Trouble”. Instead of trying to improve his company’s reputation by other means, such as harder work, Miroshnikov again offered to pay for the story’s removal from the website. The money had to be delivered by Bannykh, who went instead to the police to report “an attempt to extort 30,000 roubles from me,” giving law enforcement the green light to join in.

Individual claims 1 million roubles in moral damages from publishing house in Kursk

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The Kursk Region Court of Arbitration is reviewing a legal claim in defence of honour, dignity and business reputation, lodged against a local publishing house, Region 46, by Sergei Muravyov, a resident of the city of Kurchatov, who wants some information shown by the broadcaster TV-6 and posted on the Region 46 website and in a newspaper released by that publishing house to be disclaimed. Several persons who spoke in the televised report are posing as co-defendants.

The reports which caused the plaintiff’s indignation were about a criminal case in which Muravyov was involved as a witness. Specifically, journalists alleged that he, as the defendants’ authorised representative, may have had a hand in their machinations that caused one of the regional industrial enterprises to fall apart. In addition to a disclaimer, the plaintiff demands 1 million roubles in moral damages.

The publishing house’s interests are being defended in court by Yekaterina Zuban, a legal expert with the Voronezh-based Media Defence Centre.

Karelia’s authorities decide what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” to read

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

This incident has no political underpinnings. A critical article posted on the government-controlled news website Respublika had barely hung there for a day before it was removed, which act caused even broader public repercussions than the very content of the story written by literary critic Natalya Yermolina did. The author spelt out her pretty ironic – polemic – view of the editorial policy of Sever [North] magazine very distinctly while showing a good sense of measure as regards style. In just a few brisk phrases she expressed the irritation she had clearly felt reading this summer’s issue of the magazine.

Leaving the strengths and weaknesses of Sever for the critics and constant readers of this literary public-and-political periodical to discuss in detail, let us focus on a topic that seems to be nearer and more important to us – freedom of expression.

So, Yermolina’s publication did not stay posted long on the Respublika website, the provider of information-support services for Karelia’s authorities which keep a controlling eye also on Sever. Evidently unwilling to get drawn into an internal conflict between two of “their own”, they decided to simply remove the article quietly.

The effect, however, proved to be directly opposite. First, the readers started wondering what was so “seditious” about Yermolina’s writings. Second, the audience’s vivid interest was duly satisfied by another news outlet (not dependent on the government for budgetary support), which promptly reprinted the article. Third, more comments followed on the content of the very same issue of Sever.

As a result, the literary critic did exactly what the nature of her creative profession calls for: to cause large-scale discussions generating broader public interest in art-related literature.


Attempt on TengriNews cameraman’s life

Security guards and a female staffer of Galaxy Group Co. on 29 July attacked Yuri Syedin, cameraman for a film crew with the news agency TengriNews.

The attack occurred while company warehouses were on fire. Security would not let reporters into the area, and those who had managed to get through as the incident was just starting, were not let out without first submitting their video footage. As Syedin attempted to hand his camera’s memory card over to TengriNews reporter Irina Gribovskaya, he was attacked by security guards, who started stifling him in an attempt to tear away both the memory card and his camera, while a woman staffer of Galaxy was biting the cameraman.

Syedin was able to break free only with fellow journalists’ assistance. He intends to report to the police the company’s use of violence in preventing him from doing his work.

[Based on Adilsoz.kz report]


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

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Galina Koshcheyeva, chief editor, district newspaper Rodnoy Krai, Kirov Region).

Attacks on journalists – 6 (Sergei Mokrushin, editor, and Vladlen Melnikov, both of Investigative Journalism Centre, Simferopol, Crimean Republic; Maxim Solopov, correspondent for Russian Planet, Moscow; Arkady Zarubin, chief editor, newspaper Arshan, Republic of Buryatia; Artyom Aleksandrov, correspondent, ZAKS.ru news agency, St. Petersburg; Aleksandr Skobov, author, Grani.ru web news portal, St. Petersburg; film crew with Channel Five, attacked in Rostov Region).

Instances of censorship – 1 (media in Kostomuksha, Karelia).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 6 (Sergei Reznik, independent journalist and blogger, Rostov-on-Don; Sergei Selivanov, freelancer, Omsk; Eduard Mochalov, chief editor, newspaper Vzyatka, Chuvashia; Dmitry Larkovich, chief editor, newspaper Vremya, Leningrad Region; newspaper Izvestia Mordovii, Saransk; Aleksandr Byvshev, freelance journalist, Orlov Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 11 (Sergei Mokrushin, editor, and Vladlen Melnikov, both of Investigative Journalism Centre, Simferopol, Crimean Republic; Anna Sharogradskaya, director, Regional Press Institute, detained at Pulkovo airport, St. Petersburg; Vladimir Volokhonsky, correspondent, Grani.ru, and Pyotr Kovalev, Reuters journalist, both of St. Petersburg; Anastasia Stanko, Ukrainian national, correspondent for Ukraine’s Gromadskoye TV, detained in Rostov Region; Rodion Chepel, Dozhd TV channel correspondent, detained in Rostov Region; Tatyana Kozyreva, reporter, and Karen Arzumanyan, cameraman, Gromadskoye TV, detained in Sevastopol, Crimea; Victoria Makarenko, Novaya Gazeta correspondent, and Gesine Dornblut, German radio journalist, both detained in Rostov Region; Yevgeny Agarkov, Ukrainian TV channel Studio 1+1 correspondent, detained in Voronezh; Oleg Potapenko, chief editor, web publication Amurburg, detained at Khabarovsk airport; Dmitry Larkovich, chief editor, newspaper Vremya, Leningrad Region; Aleksandr Sotnik, freelance journalist, Moscow).

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) – 58.

Threats against journalists and media – 5 (staffers of Ekho Moskvy radio station, Moscow; Arkady Zarubin, chief editor, newspaper Arshan, Republic of Buryatia; Andrei Voronin, deputy editor-in-chief, newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Peterburge, St. Petersburg; Aleksandr Valov, independent blogger, Krasnodar Region; Sergei Buryndin, chief editor, newspaper Gazeta Na Dom, Birobijan).

Refusals to print (or distribute) media – 1 (newspaper No. 1, Barnaul).

Disruption of radio or TV broadcasts – 2 (TV channel Vashe Obshchestvennoye Televideniye, St. Petersburg; TV/radio company GTRK Omsk, Omsk).

Closure of media – 3 (newspaper Pervoye Sentyabrya, Moscow; newspaper Vedomosti-Pyatnitsa, Moscow; newspaper Nevskiye Novosti, St. Petersburg).

Withdrawal, purchase or arrest of print run – 5 (newspaper Novoye Zerkalo, Moscow Region; newspaper No. 1, Barnaul; newspaper Vzyatka, Chuvashia; Yabloko Party’s newspapers, Moscow, twice).

Interference with web publications – 9 (website of Gazeta.ru news agency, Moscow; websites of newspapers LifeNews, Izvestia, Tvoy Den, Zhizn, and Marker, Bubble magazine, RSN radio station, and web news portal Heat.ru, all based in Moscow).

Confiscation of/ damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 4 (computer of Anna Sharogradskaya, director, Regional Press Institute, St. Petersburg, confiscated at Pulkovo airport; computer of TNT-Blitz television company, Murmansk; computer of Vladimir Kozhevnikov, correspondent, newspaper Vzyatka, Chuvashia; office computer of newspaper Vzyatka, Chuvashia).

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 53

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

Все новости

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