Дайджест
29 Октября 2015 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 728

26 October 2015


RUSSIA

Chelyabinsk-based editor convicted of bribery, amnestied and released

By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The Central district court in Chelyabinsk has found Igor Makarov, chief editor of the ChelNovosti.ru news website, guilty of commercial bribery and sentenced him to a suspended 4-year term of imprisonment with four-year probation but no fine imposed on him.

There and then, the editor was amnestied in connection with the 70th anniversary of the World War Two Victory and released from detention.

As we have reported, Makarov was accused under Criminal Code Article 204 of two instances of commercial bribery – of taking 15,000 and 30,000 roubles from managers of the Mnogo Mebeli furniture company for removing some compromising publications from his agency’s website (see digest 687).

In March, the company turned to the regional court of arbitration claiming 1,300,000 roubles in reputational damages from Makarov. However, its claim was rejected in full, which decision was later upheld by the 18th Arbitration Court of Appeals.

Blogger Ilya Varlamov, due to favourably-disposed courts, shakes astronomic amounts of money out of media in Omsk and elsewhere reposting his photo works without his consent

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Moscow-based blogger Ilya Varlamov has found a way to earn good money by suing media outlets that have reposted photos from his blog without his consent. Several months ago, he held an online auction to sell a kitten named Omsk (the final price was not disclosed, but it is known that the offer of 185,000 roubles for the kitten was not the last bid – see digest 719).

Three months after, he lodged legal claims against Omsk-based media that had reposted the kitten’s photos from the seller’s blog. The group of defendants included the largest regional television channel belonging to the State TV/Radio Company Omsk, which was required by an arbitration court to pay Varlamov 280,000 roubles for the unauthorised publication of 6 pictures of its grey four-legged namesake (40,000 per photo plus 40,000 for its failure to promptly remove the photos from the website). Also, as we reported in the same digest, Varlamov claimed 400,000 roubles from the OmskInform news agency for reposting 17 photo images without his consent, and was awarded half of that amount.

He has lodged yet another legal claim against TRIES Publishers’, demanding 270,000 roubles for 9 photos of the same animal copied without his authorisation from the web portal TOP55. This claim has not yet been reviewed but it likely is to be satisfied, even if partially, leaving a major hole in the local publishing house’s budget. As has been noted, Lady Justice has been disposed favourably to the prominent blogger, and not only in Omsk. Specifically, Varlamov has been awarded 150,000 roubles from the Yaroslavl-based news agency Verkhnyaya Volga for the unauthorised use of his photo images; as much from the Ura.ru news agency; and 210,000 roubles from UralInformBureau (the latter two agencies are based in Yekaterinburg).

His litigations with Moscow-based media, too, have been fairly successful. On 7 October, the Moscow Arbitration Court fully satisfied his 480,000-rouble claim against Komsomolskaya Pravda Publishers’. Also, he has sued the newspaper Moskovskiy Komsomolets and the federal broadcaster VGTRK, claiming 330,000 and 240,000 roubles, respectively, from them. Earlier, Varlamov filed a legal claim worth 420,000 roubles against Argumenty I Fakty, but he withdrew it in May for some unknown reason, according to the Biznes-Kurs weekly.

Journalists in Omsk may rejoice at Ilya Varlamov’s failure three years ago to collect the required number of supporters’ signatures to run for the city mayor; if he had succeeded, many local media might have long found themselves bankrupt: only the previous governor, notorious for his authoritarian style of running the region, used to sue critical media with comparable intensity. Whatever the management style of the incumbent Omsk Region administrators, their much more tolerant attitude toward the media deserves every praise: the journalists have since grown more independent and critical, often giving the authorities pretexts for filing lawsuits, but the top-ranking officials in Omsk or at the regional level have not filed a single one so far.


GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Expanded database Russia: Media Conflicts established

A new resource listing violations of journalists’ and media rights – database Russia: Media Conflicts – has been created. Compared to the previous one (existing since 2004), which featured a limited number of violation categories (attacks on journalists, their deaths, criminal charges against journalists and media, instances of censorship, illegal sackings, threats against media workers, and their detention), the new database additionally lists attacks on media offices, seizure of print runs, and the blocking of, and attacks on, news websites.

The database is updated on a weekly basis.

The search system allows users to search for particular incidents based on key words in the eleven categories of media-related conflicts, broken down by constituent entity of the Russian Federation, Federal District, and media type; to set timeframes; and to monitor conflicts in progress.

The major advantage of the new database is that it has an option enabling users to report on conflicts they know of, and to post the relevant information on the resource.

The link to the Russia: Media Conflicts database is available on the GDF website


OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Juvenile delinquency inspectorate in Rostov Region forbids its officials to share information with the press

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

A week ago, I had to contact on the phone the Juvenile Delinquency Inspectorate (JDI) in the city of Shakhty, Rostov Region, over an article I was writing about a mother convicted of treating her children brutally. The woman was fined 30,000 roubles, but her children were left to live with her, and the JDI is now to closely watch this family, where three kids are deemed to be in a “socially dangerous” situation. Unfortunately, as I had expected, both the rank-and-file members and high-ranking officials of the Shakhty inspectorate refused outright to answer my questions, saying that their bosses forbade them even to talk to journalists without authorisation from the regional police department’s press office. My appeals to the police command, too, were in vain: my oral requests for information, addressed in accordance with the established internal rules to the press service’s officer-on-duty, just as my written inquiries e-mailed to Press Office Head Natalya Ustimenko in person, were all left unanswered.

Things have remained like this for months: in June, the newspaper Bolshoi Rostov did not get any reply to a similar inquiry about the JDI’s work with problem families where children lived in a similarly unsafe environment. In July, after several unanswered phone and e-mail inquiries, I had to go to the regional police department in person to hand an inquiry printed out on an official letterhead, stamped and sealed, to the duty officer in exchange for a signed receipt. Only then did I get an e-mail reply reading, “The criminal cases you inquired about are being handled by the Main Investigative Division of the RF Interior Ministry Department for the Rostov Region. A complex of investigative and operative measures is currently being carried out to clear up the circumstances in which the events under investigation occurred. At present, case-related information is not to be disclosed to prevent harming the course of investigation. Upon completion of the latter, you may request comments thereon, if you remain interested.”

Naturally, I will remain as interested as ever in the exposure of wrongdoings of an organised crime ring involving incumbent and former owners and directors of utility companies that have stolen 200 million roubles from the amounts city residents accurately paid for electricity, heating and water supply to public service providers. Those cases have been investigated in an atmosphere of strict secrecy for more than a year now, but there have been alerting info leaks from those who are in the know. Just recently, one of the news portals posted a note about an investigator, a young lady police lieutenant, selling to suspects material evidence items pertaining to the case – separate pages from a notepad seized by the FSB during a search of a utility company under investigation. The notepad owner accurately jotted down when and with whom he shared the stolen money.

Truth will out, as the old saying goes. But aren’t the Interior Ministry and its officials risking their reputation by carefully hiding information about what they are busy doing and what serious criminal offences they are exposing (why not at least acknowledge the fact that the lady lieutenant has been arrested and placed in a pre-trial detention facility)? The Rostov Region Interior Ministry Department’s press office employs six police officers of different rank, plus a civilian special reporter, all of whom seem to work by the sweat of their brow, regularly posting fresh press releases, typically titled “Police Inspecting Road Accident Site”, or “Police Search for Missing Minor” – and, just an hour later, “Missing Minor Found”.

Maybe it is because of working as hard as they do that the press office officials simply don’t have the time to answer journalists’ inquiries? Or have they received instructions “from above” not to provide any information to the press? Not so long ago, a police investigator who was searching the regional Trade Unions Council headquarters in connection with another suspected corruption scheme confessed to me: “We are required to sign a written pledge not to talk to journalists at all; if my bosses learn that I’ve said at least a word to you, they’ll instantly fire me.”


NEWS FROM PARTNERS

2015 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” draws to a close

The jury of the 2015 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” is drawing to a close. Works submitted for this year’s contest will be accepted until 1 November.

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, 2014 and October 15, 2015 in Russian print or 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 (Journalists’ Union of Russia entrance), Office 438, 119992, Moscow, Russia, with a note: “Andrei Sakharov Competition ‘Journalism as an Act of Conscience’.”

For further details, please see http://www.gdf.ru/lenta/item/1/1302 or dial (+7 495) 637 4947.

GLEDIS prepares to mark 15th anniversary

The Guild of Linguistic Experts on Documentation- and Information-related Disputes (GLEDIS), which is one of the GDF’s long-time partners, prepares to mark its 15th anniversary in February 2016. As part of the preparations for the event, the Guild Board has produced a video about GLEDIS, which is publicly available online at:

Background information:

GLEDIS is a non-governmental, non-for-profit organisation registered with the RF Ministry of Justice (Registration Certificate No. 14127 of 15.02.2001). Currently it is a leading Russian expert centre engaging in scientific research, expert studies, publishing, and educational activities.

The Guild provides practical assistance for legal entities and individuals needing linguistic examination of documents pertaining to different civil, criminal and arbitration cases and disputes. Our partners include judges, claimants and defendants in judicial cases; representatives of media outlets, human rights and public groups; officials of investigative and law enforcement agencies; law firms and bar associations; numerous Russian, foreign and international organisations; and individual citizens of the Russian Federation and foreign states.

GLEDIS experts have impressive records of successful analytical work on Russian-language media publications, transcripts of TV and radio programmes, texts of laws, contracts and other documents, as well as trademarks, family names, other proper names, etc. Expert studies, which are done for pay, are carried out based on official agreements, judicial determinations, and investigative orders.

Guild members work in 28 regions of the Russian Federation. GLEDIS President is Prof. Mikhail Gorbanevsky, Ph.D. (Philology), full member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.


Letter from Elista

Dear colleagues:

We, a group of journalists who were Larissa Yudina’s friends and comrades-in-arms during her lifetime, with assistance from the regional branch of the Yabloko Party, plan to hold a series of one-person pickets in Elista on 22 October in memory of the courageous journalist and to mark her 70th birth anniversary.

After a whole month of “pondering” over our suggestion that an exposition should be opened at the Republican Museum to commemorate L. Yudina, the Kalmyk authorities have failed to come up with any decision. Still worse, they did not respond to our proposal on establishing a Yudina memorial stand at the republic’s Press House.

Now that it is absolutely clear that Kalmykia’s government does not want to pay tribute to our murdered colleague and friend, we have decided to mark her birth anniversary with individual picketing actions mentioned above.

Also, we have invited Larissa’s relatives, friends and acquaintances to come to a café in Elista in the evening on 22 October, where we could talk with your Foundation’s, Journalists’ Union and Yabloko Party representatives via Skype.

Sincerely,
Valery Badmayev, chief editor, newspaper Sovremennaya Kalmykiya


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

Все новости

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