19 Августа 2015 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 718

17 August 2015


Film crew attacked in Chelyabinsk

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

As fire was being extinguished in an abandoned grain elevator in Chelyabinsk, a group of aggressive, criminal-looking men attacked correspondents for the Telefakt news show produced by the Vostochnyi Ekspress TV company.

The men jumped the reporters claiming that the elevator was a piece of private property where the use of cameras was forbidden, even for purposes of videoing a fire. It was not clear if the attackers were security guards or owners of the facility.

Historians say the elevator building is registered as a cultural heritage item but belongs to fur and realty traders, Moroz & Co. led by Igor Baimakov. The aggressive men did not show any IDs. One of them kept screening the lens with his hands, pushing the cameraman and urging him to put the camera away into his car.

Noticing that reporter Anna Andronova was recording his actions with her cell phone, he abruptly struck her on the hand, causing her to drop the phone. When the journalists attempted to calm him down, the man flew into an even greater rage and started swearing badly.

When a film crew for the Yuzhny Ural State TV Company arrived at the site later in the day, the same individuals confronted its members, and though in a less rude way, continued insisting that the cameras were forbidden; they complained they had “grown tired of shooing reporters away”.

“That was a clear violation of Criminal Code Article 144 – an attempt to keep journalists from doing their professional work,” the appalled TV journalists said and filed complaints with the police, prosecutor’s office and the Journalists’ Union, attaching video sequences of the attack.

Many local media reported about the incident, and even the regional governor interfered, promising to look at close quarters at what had happened. A few days later, the regional Investigative Department started criminal proceedings against the assailants under Article 144.3 (“Interference with journalists’ lawful professional work, involving the use of violence”). The main attacker has been required to give a written pledge not to leave town.

The Glasnost Defence Foundation will closely follow further developments in Chelyabinsk.

Editor in Karachai-Cherkess Republic summoned for questioning in connection with reprinted article

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Lyudmila Makhmyagova, chief editor of the independent public-and-political newspaper Cherkessk: Vchera, Segodnya, Zavtra, has received an inquiry from the Ust-Dzheguta inter-district investigative unit of the RF Investigative Department for the Karachai-Cherkess Republic requesting information about the author of the article “Police Cover Drug Dealers”. The inquiry was initiated by one of the article’s main characters, a former district criminal investigations unit chief, who claimed the publication was “libellous” and “damaging” to his honour and dignity.

The story was reprinted from the KavPolit website back in March, with due reference to the source, and until recently, it caused no protests on the part of the wrongdoing police officers referred to in the heading. So why raise such a hullaballoo now, and not only demand information about the author, who has never worked for or contributed to Makhmyagova’s newspaper, but also summon the editor for questioning under the threat of being otherwise brought to the police by force?

From the text of the inquiry, it is clear that the investigators themselves have never read the controversial article: they wanted some “original text” to be sent to them, and they even misspelled the author’s name. Anton Chablin, the story’s author, is a prominent Stavropol journalist often contributing articles to KavPolit.

As we have reported, Stavropol investigators, too, have shown a vivid interest in learning as much as they can about Chablin (see digest 716). They demanded that KavPolit editor-in-chief provide them with full details about the journalist and the web news agency’s editorial policies. As it turned out, Stavropol Region ex-Prosecutor Valery Kalugin (turned member of the regional Duma) had initiated a check-up in the wake of a KavPolit publication in which Chablin reported about the resumption of criminal proceedings against Kalugin over a lethal traffic accident he caused three years ago. The article also recalled other reputational damages Valery Kalugin suffered at the posts of both the region’s top prosecutor and a regional MP.

Thus the filing of another inquiry regarding journalist Chablin by investigators from a neighbouring republic, and one also related to a KavPolit publication, seems hardly accidental.

One may only wonder what other media outlet that has reprinted some of Anton Chablin’s investigative reports from the KavPolit news website may likewise be required to provide full information about the author, attach the original text, and have its editor report to the police for questioning.

Magazine editor’s car set on fire in Yekaterinburg

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

On the night of 16 August, Anna Yeliseyeva, editor of the Urals’ most popular glossy magazine, Stolnik, lost its Hyundai Solaris to a fire that left the car fully burnt down, with no hope for restoration. Evidently, some of the editor’s rivals are unhappy to see her magazine still staying afloat amid the deep economic crisis.

Earlier, some evildoer thrice circled her car, a nail in hand, leaving deep nasty scratches on its surface, Yeliseyeva recalled.

Several other cars were likewise torched in Yekaterinburg that night: another Hyundai Solaris, a Cherry Tiggo, a Citroen C4, and a Mazda 3. The owners are sure their cars were set on fire deliberately.


Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in July 2015

Attacks on journalists – 11 (Anna Gritsevich, Kavkazsky Uzel correspondent, attacked in Sochi, Krasnodar Region; Revizorro film crew, attacked in Murmansk; Mikhail Dolgov, REN TV correspondent, Moscow; 360 Podmoskovye channel film crew, Moscow; Yevgeny Khamaganov, chief editor, Asia-Russia Daily news website, Ulan-Ude; REN TV film crew, Moscow; Denis Kulaga, REN TV correspondent, Moscow; Semyon Klebanov, cameraman, Zvezda TV channel, Moscow; Andrei Oryol, V Svete Far correspondent, Moscow; Konstantin Khalin, Svobodnyye Novosti news agency correspondent, Saratov)

Criminal charges against journalists, media and bloggers – 3 (Sergei Vilkov, observer, Obshchestvennoye Mneniye media group, Saratov; Aleksandr Sokolov, RBK journalist, and Yuri Mukhin, former chief editor, Duel newspaper, both of Moscow)

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 1 (Natalya Musatova, chief editor, newspaper Argumenty I Fakty-Yugra, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region)

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 8 (Zvezda channel film crew, detained in Sevastopol; Aleksandr Sokolov, RBK journalist, and Yuri Mukhin, former chief editor, Duel newspaper, both of Moscow; Sergei Vilkov, observer, Obshchestvennoye Mneniye media group, Saratov; Aleksandr Valov, chief editor, BlogSochi news website, Krasnodar Region; Olga Yukhnovskaya, Rossiyskaya Gazeta journalist, Alsu Shakirova, Ekspert magazine correspondent, and Artur Gafarov, Otrazheniye newspaper editor, all three of Kazan)

Denial of access to information (including bans on audio/video recording and photography; denials of accreditation; restrictions on visits to or presence at events held in government agencies, at industrial enterprises, in state institutions, etc.) – 31

Threats against journalists and media – 6 (Vladimir Sakharovsky, chief editor, newspaper Golos Birobijana, Jewish Autonomous Region; Vladislav Maltsev, Nezavisimaya Gazeta journalist, Moscow; TV-21 channel film crew, Murmansk; Aleksandr Sokolov, RBK journalist, Moscow; Zhanna Nemtsova, RBK journalist, Moscow; Vladislav Mokryakov, Informer news portal, Sevastopol)

Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 1 (newspaper Spravedlivaya Rossiya, Cheboksary)

Disruption of TV and radio broadcasts – 5 (TNT-Blitz, Murmansk; Radio Rossii, in Khabarovsk Region; Radio Serebryanyi Dozhd, in Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan)

Closure of media – 6 (newspapers Molodoy Kommunar and Voronezhskaya Nedelya, both based in Voronezh; ProSaratov news website, Saratov; e-Krym news agency, Crimea; newspapers Molodoy Dalnevostochnik and Priamurskiye Vedomosti, both based in Khabarovsk)

Interference with internet publications – 2 (UralPolit.ru expert news site, twice)

Release of duplicate (i.e., rival) newspapers – 1 (newspaper Argumenty Nedeli, in Irkutsk Region)

Seizure of, or damage to, photo, video and audio apparatus and computers – 8 (video camera of REN TV channel, Moscow; video camera of 360 Podmoskovye channel, Moscow; voice recorder of Gorodskiye Vesti reporter Andrei Popkov, Sverdlovsk Region; computers of Obshestvennoye Mneniye news website, Saratov; video camera of REN TV, Moscow; computer of Obshestvennoye Mneniye correspondent Sergei Vilkov, Saratov; video camera of Radio Serebryanyi Dozhd, Moscow)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 45


Tomsk Media Group to challenge regulator’s ruling shutting down TV2 broadcaster

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Roskomnadzor, the federal service overseeing the media and public communications sphere, has confirmed that it was not accidental that the Tomsk-based TV2 television company was stripped of its broadcasting license. As we more than once reported in previous digests (see, e.g., digest 703), the license expired on 8 February 2015, and the regulator refused to extend it – on the pretext that TV2 “has no technical opportunity to continue broadcasting, and is unlikely to get one in the foreseeable future”. The company ceased existing as of 1 January, when the Russian TV and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS) unilaterally terminated its signal-transmission agreement with TV2. The network management claimed to have been “hurt” by its business partner’s attempt “to politicize” the breakage of the transmitting antenna feeder in April last year that interrupted TV2’s broadcasts for 45 days (at a time when Roskomnadzor had issued a directive saying that unless the company resumed operation within а 5-day period, “its license would be suspended”). It is not clear how long the TV screens might have remained blank if Tomsk residents had not rushed to express solidarity with their favourite broadcaster by taking to the streets to hold pickets and rallies demanding the soonest replacement of the burnt-down feeder.

It may well be that Roskomnadzor, too, bore a grudge against the television company and its viewers, who quite unexpectedly started resisting what seemed to be a pretty “clever” plan of TV2’s liquidation. The Kremlin as well might have felt nervous when receiving in February a petition signed in a biting frost by 15,000 Tomsk residents who wanted TV2 to be back on the air. Anyway, that petition was left unanswered.

Litigations with the oversight agency over its refusal to extend the broadcasting license are still ongoing. The Tomsk Media Group (TMG), of which TV2 is a part, has submitted to Roskomnadzor a package of documents required for obtaining a new license. Few doubted, though, that the documents would be rejected again, but many were curious what other pretext the authorities would cite this time for not letting a disfavoured critical television company resume operation.

The reply TMG received the other day turned out to be pretty banal. Signed by Roskomnadzor deputy head M. Ksenzov, it said: “Article 19.1.2 of the Media Law prohibits the establishment of television stations ensuring the consistent reception of their programmes in half or more regions of the Russian Federation, or on a territory populated by over a half of the Russian Federation’s population, by a foreign citizen or by a person without citizenship, or by a Russian citizen with dual citizenship.”

The package of documents submitted to the regulator “fails to clearly show whether or not TMG is in compliance with Media Law Article 19.1 as regards dual citizenship,” Ksenzov wrote, causing TV2 Chief Editor Viktor Muchnik to dismiss this justification of Roskomnadzor’s refusal to extend his company’s broadcasting license as “absurd” in a statement he posted on the TV2 website. He noted that TMG had already informed the oversight agency – in reply to a previous inquiry – that all of the TV2 owners are Russian citizens having no dual citizenship, none of them is under prosecution or serving time in prison, and that all of them are fully capable individuals.

At the same time, Muchnik wrote, getting a legal confirmation of the fact of dual citizenship “would be fairly difficult, since it can be granted by different countries”. It appears the TMG owners are now supposed to prove that they have no dual citizenship not only from such countries as the United States or Israel (of which they have often been accused by local chat forum trolls), Britain or France, but also of all the other countries, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia, Honduras, etc. “If Roskomnadzor has any information regarding TMG owners’ citizenship, let it share this information with us,” the chief editor wrote. In his view, the regulator’s reply “once again proves that there was no ‘conflict of economic entities’; there just were well-coordinated actions by RTRS and Roskomnadzor to fulfil a political order – to have TV2 shut down”.

The Tomsk Media Group has announced readiness to “challenge the oversight agency’s unlawful actions”.

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.


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