15 Декабря 2014 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 687

8 December 2014


Jury announces nominees for 2014 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”

The Jury of the 2014 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” 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 1 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, the Urals, and the North-West. The winner and nominees have been sent 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:

  • Yelena Racheva, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow;
  • Dmitry Florin, inter-kavkaz.com, Moscow;
  • Oksana Trufanova, Osobaya Bukva web publication, Chelyabinsk;
  • Victoria Ivleva, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; and
  • Igor Tsagoyev, Nevolya magazine, Nalchik.

The Jury:

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


  • N. M. Antufyeva, chief editor, newspaper Tsentr Azii (Kyzyl);
  • 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);
  • 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 (Makhachkala);
  • I. V. Naidyonov, special correspondent, Russkiy Reporter magazine, winner of 2005 A. Sakharov Award;
  • 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)


TV2 Channel’s taking off the air has clear political underpinnings

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

In Tomsk, the city’s sole independent television channel, TV2, may again be banned from the air – for good this time.

The story with the burned-out feeder, which suspended the channel’s operation for 45 days in April and May (see digest 662), has got a predictable continuation: the regional Radio/TV Transmitting Centre (RTTC) notified TV2 last week that its signal’s transmission would be terminated as of 1 January 2015. The notice did not explain any reasons, unlike a posting on behalf of the mother company, the Russian TV/Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRBN), which appeared on the RTTC website a few days later, giving it to be understood that the decision had been made in Moscow.

As it turned out, what caused the monopoly-holding company (whose authorisation is mandatory for anyone going on the air – at least in Tomsk) to cancel its agreement with TV2 was its having felt “hurt” by the channel’s describing the feeder’s breakdown – “a purely technical problem” – as a politically underpinned one, according to RTRBN.

“RTRBN has always been eager to help TV/radio companies, particularly regional ones, considering the importance of regional TV development,” the posting said. “But in this case – and we feel definite about it – the TV2 management went beyond what is acceptable in relationships between two business partners.”

Thus the signal-transmitting company decided to revenge itself on TV2 – and with it, on hundreds of thousands of its viewers, since TV2 is the region’s only independent channel – one of the two or three such channels that have been left nationwide. And all this despite RTRBN’s “awareness of the importance of regional TV development”.

Let us remind you how the story unfolded which hurt RTRBN so much. The feeder on the TV tower burned out on 19 April, and RTTC, after several confused attempts to explain what was happening, and after the lengthy national holidays in early May, finally announced it would have the feeder repaired by 15 June. Yet a month before the announced date, on 15 May, the media oversight authority, Roskomnadzor, came up with an ultimatum, threatening to suspend TV2’s license unless it resumed broadcasting within five days’ time. The warning came as the channel was marking its 23rd anniversary.

As it happened, two government agencies, claiming to be acting independently of each other, created all the prerequisites for having TV2, a channel that has long since fallen into disfavour with the regional authorities, and maybe federal as well, liquidated. Picketing actions, rallies and other expressions of solidarity by ordinary people, and the Russian Journalists’ Union’s petitions all added up to help in getting the feeder fixed at long last. And then RTRBN suddenly decided to withdraw from the agreement with TV2 – evidently, out of sheer spite and notwithstanding its own efforts to solve what it called “the complex technical problem”.

“I am absolutely sure if TV2 only showed entertaining programmes, we’d never have a single of those problems we are faced with now,” Viktor Muchnik, the TV2 editor-in-chief, told the news agency Interfax. “We do think all those problems are of a political nature. Also, we know that this much talked-about feeder might have been fixed much earlier, and that Roskomnadzor might have refrained from issuing a warning to us.”

The chief editor is convinced that the monopoly-holder’s refusal to provide its services to a subscriber without serious legal substantiation is totally unlawful. “It’s as if they’d come to your house and tell you: ‘Well, you’ve been accurately paying for the central heating, but now we happen to dislike you, so we’re disconnecting your heat supply. Go buy yourself a stove and try not to freeze.’ After reading that RTRBN paper to the end, I got a feeling it had been written by someone who secretly sympathises with us, because from the legal point of view, that document is absolute nonsense.”

Yet another rally in support of TV2 is scheduled to be held in Tomsk on 14 December. Judging by incoming comments, many residents are ready to take to the streets to defend their right to be truthfully informed.


News website editor arrested in Chelyabinsk

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Igor Makarov, chief editor of ChelNovosti.ru news website, was arrested in Chelyabinsk on 5 December on charges of commercial bribery under Criminal Code Article 204. According to the Investigative Committee, Igor Bannykh, a manager with the Mnogo Mebeli furniture company, reported to the police in August 2014 that Makarov was extorting 30,000 roubles from him in exchange for not publishing a story compromising the company. As the money was changing hands, Makarov was detained, told to submit written explanations, and released with a pledge not to leave town.

According to the journalist, the point is that Mnogo Mebeli’s management has a reputation for persuading journalists across Russia not to publish any compromising stuff about their company. “They intimidate journalists or offer to pay them – and then they blow the whistle to the police on someone’s ‘extortion’ attempts,” Makarov said at the time.

His did post materials criticising the furniture firm. In December 2013, his story “Mnogo Mebeli Faces Gloomy Prospects” reported that the company was artificially increasing its debts and establishing façade firms to evade taxes on Russian soil. After protracted negotiations with Mnogo’s division head Dmitry Miroshnikov, the editor agreed to remove the story from his website. Miroshnikov paid the news site 15,000 roubles in reward from his personal account with AlphaBank (see digest 668 and digest 670).

And now the regional department of the RF Investigative Committee has announced the editor’s arrest, while not mentioning his name. His phone is switched off. Some time ago, Makarov was heard saying he intended to sell his website and move to another place.

Convicted police officer claims 3 million roubles in moral damages from local newspaper in Rostov Region

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

A police officer convicted of bribe-taking is claiming 3 million roubles from the newspaper Perekryostok based in Belaya Kalitva, Rostov Region.

In November 2014, Perekryostok carried a story by court reporter Nikolai Shchulkin, entitled “Double Trap, or Taxi Drivers Wanted”. Belaya Kalitva is a small town, so the publication caused a big resonance. Its main characters – two traffic police officers – came to the newspaper office to demand a disclaimer; one of them was under investigation as a suspected bribe-taker, the other posed as a witness in the case. Upon hearing “no” in reply, they lodged a legal claim in defence of honour, dignity and business reputation, and demanded moral damages.

The plaintiff, Mikhail Mikhailenko, had already been fired by that rime from the police and sentenced by the Belokalitvensky district court to a suspended 3-year term of imprisonment; the court considered the facts of Mikhailenko’s having a minor son and positive characteristics as extenuating circumstances to be taken into account. Mikhailenko did not deny his having been convicted, but he claimed hurt by the author’s words, “Many have known him [Mikhailenko] as a good guy who had served for several years as a police operative, but his subsequent career as a traffic police inspector was rather brief: in less than a year’s time he was caught taking a bribe of 8,000 roubles.”

During the very first hearing, Mikhailenko told the court he was not regretting his expulsion from the police in the least, because he was now “earning even more than before”, although without signing an official contract. Judge Tashlykova, for her part, asked the journalists who posed as defendants why they had not, first, coordinated their would-be publication with the court if it was based on a court decision in full legal force, and second, why they had disclosed the full names of the convicted officer and his colleague instead of using only their initials.

The Glasnost Defence Foundation will closely follow the proceedings in Belaya Kalitva.

Criminal case against journalist Dmitry Remizov closed in Rostov-on-Don

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Rostov-based journalist Dmitry Remizov, a correspondent for the RosBalt news agency, was accused in February 2013 under Criminal Code Article 329 of “desecrating the Russian Federation’s flag” – of burning it in the course of a public action and posting a video of the action online. The preliminary investigation was conducted by the now-disbanded Interior Ministry’s Main Department for the Southern Federal District.

According to the investigators, Remizov, a leader of the Molotov youth movement, invited young people through social networks to take part in field training that involved firing practices, military games and “theoretical classes”. On the day of the public action in the summer of 2012, he also asked a trainee to make a video of the action that he later posted on YouTube. The videographer’s confession caused the court to decide not to prosecute the man.

“I’ve never been a member of any such organisation,” Remizov told the GDF, “and have attended various public events only as a reporter. I’ve never taken part in any field exercises and never burned the Russian flag. The indictment is based on a video clip featuring some people in face masks burning a tricolour cloth. I think the criminal charges have been trumped up against me in connection with my work.”

“In the course of interrogations, police investigators asked me about my political views, my attitude toward Russia’s state system and toward the president and premier in person, and if I’d ever spoken negatively about them in public,” Remizov went on to say. “The investigators asked if I had any connections with the opposition in Rostov; they are seeking to portray me as an active oppositionist.” (See digest 648).

The case went all the way to court but was returned for additional investigation in view of the fact that one of the defendants was a member of a district electoral committee and could be prosecuted only in accordance with special procedures. The prosecutor’s office disregarded this important point at the time, and now the period of limitation for a person’s prosecution under Article 329 in a case that happened back in 2012 has expired. This is why the criminal proceedings against him have been closed, Remizov told the GDF.

Psychologist is not physician, Stavropol-based newspaper replies to media oversight agency

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal Distirct

The main character of numerous publications in the independent newspaper Otkrytaya Gazeta – Svetlana Fomina, head of the Stavropol Settlements Centre (SSC) who is under investigation on suspicion of wrongfully charging fees to local residents for fictitious utility services – has continued to defend her honour, dignity and business reputation by all available means. As the GDF has reported, in addition to lodging legal claims against the newspaper, she has demanded nearly half a million roubles in payments for the treatment of “mental disorders” she allegedly received in the wake of those publications. To prove those, she presented in court two conclusions she had personally ordered with experts in psychology, both stating that she suffers from “social de-adaptation” caused by a stress inflicted through “a lack of support from people of a high standing”.

Naturally, Otkrytaya has been covering this litigation, the outcome of which is important to hundreds of utility-harmed locals, and reported on the psychological conclusions and on where the two curious documents came from (see digest 663 (rus); digest 676). Fomina responded by complaining to the North Caucasian Department of Roskomnadzor about the newspaper’s “disclosing my personal data without my consent” and “spreading around my medical diagnosis”.

The media oversight authority demanded explanations from Otkrytaya Gazeta, whose chief editor, Lyudmila Leontyeva, stated that the article cited by the plaintiff did not violate any of Fomina’s human rights or civil liberties, nor did it disclose her personal information, allegedly obtained from existing systematised databases. The newspaper does not know anything about Fomina’s private life or family secrets, and did not mention them in the disputed publication. The expert conclusions the plaintiff cited and presented in court were considered during an open hearing, with neither side required to give written pledges to keep courtroom information confidential. The decision to be passed in the case will later be posted online for everyone to read, in line with the provisions of the law on the openness of justice administration, the editor stated.

But the most important point is that medicine has nothing at all to do with this case, since a psychologist is not a physician, and psychological conclusions are not tantamount to a medical diagnosis, Leontyeva stressed. So any accusations as to Otkrytaya Gazeta’s allegedly spreading information about the plaintiff’s health problems are irrelevant, she said.


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

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Anton Kostylev, chief producer, Russia Today news agency, Moscow)

Attacks on journalists – 7 (REN-TV film crew, Moscow; Ilya Azovsky, chief editor, Pravda Severo-Zapada newspaper, Arkhangelsk; Artur Akhmetgaliyev, journalist, 100 TV channel, St. Petersburg; Konstantin Rodionov, journalist, Sport-34 channel, Volgograd Region; film crew of Kontrolny Zvonok TV show, twice, Orenburg; Sergei Pichugin, correspondent, Mesto Proisshestviya TV show, Kirov)

Instances of censorship – 2 (LifeNews website, Moscow; Bolshoi Futbol TV show, Rossiya 2 TV channel)

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 2 (Igor Madasov, freelance journalist, Irkutsk; Dmitry Shipilov, freelance journalist, Kemerovo)

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 2 (Aleksandr Plyushchev, Ekho Moskvy radio station anchorman, Moscow; Aleksandr Levashov, director, TVcom television, Ulan-Ude)

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 8 (Sergei Popov, freelance journalist, Stavropol, twice; Oleg Potapenko, chief editor, independent publication Amurburg, Khabarovsk; Ivan Sedush, journalist, Pervaya Narodnaya Gazeta, Rostov Region; Andrei Novichkov, correspondent, Grani.ru, Moscow; Igor Madasov, freelance journalist, Irkutsk; REN-TV film crew, Moscow; Larisa Shchiryakova, Belarussian freelance journalist, detained in Bryansk Region)

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 – 2 (Artur Akhmetgaliyev, journalist, 100 TV channel, St. Petersburg; film crew, Kontrolny Zvonok TV show, Orenburg)

Disruption of TV or radio broadcasts – 1 (37 Channel, Rostov Region)

Withdrawal/purchase, or confiscation of print run – 1 (Populyarnaya Politika newspaper, Vologda)

Interference with internet publications – 1 (website of Young Guard movement, Moscow)

Confiscation of/ damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 3 (computer of Amurburg independent publication, Khabarovsk; computer of freelance journalist Igor Madasov, Irkutsk; video camera of REN-TV channel, Moscow)

Administrative pressure (unplanned inspections by sanitary, fire, tax inspectors, etc.) – 1 (Russian Journalists’ Union, Moscow)

Other forms of pressure/ infringement of journalists’ rights – 35


“Anti-journalist” lawyer declared “Best human rights defender of the year”

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

After the results of the municipal 2014 Lawyer of the Year Competition were summed up in Khabarovsk, Vice-Mayor Valery Lebeda handed diplomas and signs of honour to the laureates as they were celebrating their professional red-letter day. By tradition, the title of Lawyer of the Year is conferred on the best professionals contributing to the enforcement of law and order.

This year, the Best Lawyer’s title in the “Human Rights Defence” nomination went to lawyer Yuri Kuleshov, a professor with the Criminal Law and Criminology Department at the Khabarovsk Academy of Economics and Law. It is he who represented the plaintiffs’ interests when six legal claims were simultaneously lodged against the newspaper Khabarovskiy Ekspress, the Grand Ekspress Publishing House, and the web-based periodical Debri-DV in the wake of a single publication, “Presidential Envoy Viktor Ishayev’s Power Tree”, with huge amounts of moral damages claimed. Kuleshov’s six clients represented former or incumbent authorities – both legislative and executive. In fact, rather than merely representing the ruling elite, they were high-ranking member of it: their group included Aleksandr Shishkin, a State Duma deputy and member of United Russia’s regional political council turned member of the RF Federation Council representing the Khabarovsk Region Government; Lt.-Gen. (now retired and arrested) Yuri Khrizman, head of the DalSpetsStroi construction company; police Maj-Gen. (ret.) Vyacheslav Baranov, former head of the regional Interior Ministry Department; and two former commanders of the Far Eastern Military District – Viktor Chechevatov and Viktor Novozhilov.

It was lawyer Yuri Kuleshov who during one of the six trials actually justified the judiciary’s decision to hold open hearings behind closed doors: “As regards the constitution-guaranteed right to have justice administered openly and transparently, I can say that in any country around the world, even if a courtroom is spacious enough, you cannot pack the entire country into it. That’s why they admitted people selectively, to make sure activists are there to pass on information to those for whom there happened to be no seat in the courtroom.”

Probably Kuleshov is a good lawyer if he has so many strongmen among his clients. But why on earth give him an award in the “Human Rights” nomination?


All-Russia Civil Forum held in Moscow

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

The Second All-Russia Civil Forum was held in Moscow on 22 November under the motto “Dialogue – Solidarity – Responsibility”. The discussion group “Civil Society and Access to Information” developed recommendations that were included in the text of the final resolution. The Glasnost Defence Foundation, whose representatives led by Alexei Simonov contributed to the group’s work, is publishing here an excerpt from that important document that deals with journalism and the media:

“… The second set of measures includes support for high-quality journalism, control over the media’s monopolisation, and [resistance to] pressure on the media.

“Civil society is interested in seeing the system of public communications de-monopolised. The environment in which both professional journalists and bloggers work today, the quality and efficiency of their work, and the audiences’ trust in the information they receive from and through the media are all important indicators of the current status and progress of civil society. Such a task cannot be fulfilled over a short period of time, but the very fact that is has been set is vitally important to civil society.

“Addressing civil society, we propose taking the following steps:

• With reliance on our internal institutes and inviting qualified [external] experts, monitor the media market situation: forecast and frustrate any attempts at monopolising control over the media at the federal and regional levels. Civil society is interested in creating new and developing existing institutions to systematically monitor changes to Russian legislation, as well as to normative acts and regulations impeding competition on the media market and imposing excessive restrictions on journalism.

• Clearly formulate civil society’s requirements to the professional associations of journalists and editors, media associations, media self-regulatory bodies, and schools and departments of journalism, as regards assisting media outlets in developing such professional (and ethical) standards of journalists’ work that would minimise the threat of inaccurate or wrongly-acquired information coming to be disseminated in or via the media.

“Seeking to help the media and journalists in creating a culture of mutual trust in relationships with civil society, the Committee for Civil Initiatives has developed a set of methods for compiling an Index of the Regional Russian Media’s Institutional Development that would reflect the status of media infrastructure, including the development of regional online media, the freedom-of-expression situation, and the degree of official influence on the media space in the regions. The proposed Index is expected to make it possible to draw up and regularly update a Map of the Media Institutions in Russia. Based on Index data, public organisations and federal and regional authorities will be able to develop compensational programmes for various regions.

“Proceeding from the realisation that the growing potential of the Internet and other information and communication technologies makes serious corrections not only to the methods of gathering, accumulating and storing official information, but also to the ways people use information resources; and taking into account the fact that the information and communication environment is undergoing substantial transformations, we think it would be possible and useful to boost the building, on the basis of existing initiatives, of an international infrastructure of broad-based public control over the exercise of everyone’s right to free and unhindered access to publicly significant information.

“The third set of measures concerns education in the media sector. Teaching the public about available media resources acquires special importance as informatisation embraces all areas of life, offering unlimited opportunities for information-flow management. In view of this, we propose developing a National Programme of Media Education Development in the Russian Federation.”

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:
Полезная деятельность Фонда защиты гласности за 25 лет его жизни