18 Декабря 2015 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 735

14 December 2015


Jury announces nominees for Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”

The Jury of the 2015 Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” invites colleagues 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 3 p.m. on 15 December.

This year’s competition, held for the 15th year running, 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:

  • Pavel Kanygin, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow;
  • Natalya Yakovleva, Uchitelskaya Gazeta, Omsk;
  • Victoria Ivleva, Colta.ru, Moscow;
  • Nighina Beroyeva, freelancer, Moscow; and
  • Yelena Kostyuchenko, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow.

The Jury:

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


  • 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, Bloomberg observer;
  • Y. L. Chernyshov, columnist, newspaper Bogatey (Saratov);
  • A. R. Shirikyan, publisher, Cigar Clan magazine (Moscow);
  • Susanne Scholl, freelancer (Austria);
  • Y. A. Suntsova, winner of 2013 A. Sakharov Award (Izhevsk); and
  • I. A. Tsagoyev, winner of 2014 A. Sakharov Award (Nalchik).

Executive secretary: B. M. Timoshenko, Glasnost Defence Foundation (Moscow)


Omsk Region administration to interact with municipalities “openly, in the absence of the press”

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Vladimir Kompaneishchikov, deputy governor of the Omsk Region, has made a paradoxical statement addressing a conference of the regional branch of the All-Russia Council on Self-Government (VSMS). The business weekly Biznes-Kurs cited him as telling the delegates (mostly village heads and local MPs): “We need to hear each other, and to communicate openly, in the absence of the press. I’ll do my best to make our interaction confidential.”

The vice-governor did not indicate in any way that he meant this to be a joke, even if not a very funny one, considering today’s reality. Nor did the audience hear any humorous note in his statement. Evidently, Mr Kompaneishchikov seriously intends to put a veil of secrecy on the regional administration’s communications with local self-governments, thereby radically changing the very essence of a power institute that has remained intact for more than two thousand years (the system of local self-government was conceived in Ancient Rome in the 3rd – 1st centuries BC, and “replanted” onto Old Russia’s soil about a thousand years later).

As declared on the official VSMS website, the Council’s goal is to “develop local self-government as a public institute contributing in a decisive way to the forming of civil society in the Russian Federation, and as part of an as inclusive as possible system of public governance”.

The statement Vladimir Kompaneishchikov made at the VSMS conference conveyed a diametrically opposite message. The vice-governor is known to have served with the FSB at one time. The history of secret services in this country, too, dates many centuries back, and their goals and tasks have from the outset been different from those of local self-government; the total secrecy of their operation may sometimes have been appropriate. Yet the FSB, and the local self-government system, and the regional administration where Mr Kompaneishchikov has held a post in recent years are all financed with taxpayers’ money and, both in theory and in accordance with the constitution, they should all serve this country’s people. So it is not clear what the people’s servants can possibly try to conceal from their masters when discussing things that are vitally important to the latter. When power turns into a corporation closed to the ordinary people, this holds nothing good in store for it, as history has many times shown. So the vice-governor had better refrain from repeating mistakes his predecessors made.

Journalists in Voronezh urge colleagues to protect Turkish students

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The Voronezh Guild of Analytical Journalists has made public a statement in connection with ever more frequent instances of reported pressure on Turkish students studying at Russian colleges and universities. “There have been media reports about Turkish students being subjected to harassment in some regions of Russia,” the statement posted on the Guild’s website said. “We think that youth who are unable to influence policymaking in their country should not be held answerable for the wrongdoings of [Turkish] politicians.”

In the authors’ view, “it would be good if our journalists continued to pursue this beat of monitoring, and reporting about, conflict situations, and if they upheld the idea of starting to monitor nationwide how Turkish students’ rights are observed”.

The Guild of Analytical Journalists is a Voronezh-based public association uniting local media representatives. Its proclaimed goal is to contribute to developing professional analytical journalism in the region.

Reporters asked out of courtroom with high-resonance case under review in Rostov-on-Don

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

As the regional court in Rostov started reviewing an appeal against the arrest of Alexander Khuruji, a Moscow businessman and shareholder of JSC Energiya, Prosecutor Nikitina asked the judge to close the hearings to the public. The defendant and his lawyer reacted by suggesting that the prosecution might thus be trying to conceal from the press the numerous procedural violations that accompanied his arrest. Khuruji was detained at the Rostov airport on the night of 2 December on the pretext that he had failed to appear in court to testify in a dispute between MRSK Yuga and Energiya.

Judge Kuznetsov granted the prosecutor’s request and asked the press out. He said the investigation was not yet over and that documents containing law-protected secrets, including investigative secrets, might be read out during the hearing. He allowed the reporters to re-enter the courtroom to hear the final decision: the original ruling passed by the Leninsky district court was upheld and left in full legal force.

Provincial politician in Perm Region accuses broadcaster of “libel”

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Dmitry Skrivanov, a deputy of the Perm Region Legislative Assembly, has filed a report with the police asking to start criminal proceedings against the web publication Vremechko which published a “smearing” article titled “Dmitry Skrivanov Finally Finds Something to Do”.

We have already reported about how this United Russia party representative has tried to prosecute journalists for criticism (see digest 730). He lodged a legal claim against the broadcaster UralInform TV for its 8 June televised report “Political Loser”, demanding a disclaimer and 100,000 roubles in moral damages, and another one (under review in the Motovilikhinsky district court in Perm since 8 December) for its 17 June audio and video story, with its transcript posted online, titled “RosBusinessConsulting Sees D. Skrivanov as a Lazy Bones Pretending to Work Hard”, with the same demands advanced by the claimant.

The provincial MP is again claiming hurt by how UralInform TV has described his tenure as head of the Moscow-based Monotown Development Fund (FRM) where he worked for several months. The six passages that struck him as “insulting” include the following: “Dmitry Skrivanov has been invariably unlucky playing leading official roles. But he has always been quite good at self-promotion. The FRM website dazzles the reader’s eye with numerous reports about Mr Skrinavov’s ‘achievements’. For one, he is proud of increasing his organisation’s staff from nine to 50 employees. It seems Dmitry was general director of an employment agency, rather than a monotown development fund.”

The phrase “It seems…” testifies to the author’s wish to express an opinion, make an evaluative judgment. Yet in his statement of claim, Skrivanov calls all this “information” or “data”. The court has hired linguistic experts to study the texts pertaining to both civil cases.

The Motovilikhinsky district court has set 29 December as a tentative date for the preliminary hearing of a third legal claim filed by Skrivanov against the same broadcaster. Dmitry Kazhin, deputy head of the legal department at UralInform Media Group has told the GDF he has not yet seen that statement of claim and knows nothing about the claimant’s new demands.

Yet he said he does know about a libel lawsuit lodged by Skrivanov against Vremechko, a web newspaper within the UralInform media holding. The article being challenged, which was posted on the Vremechko website on 27 July, cited a letter from residents of the town of Chusovoy asking the regional Legislative Assembly, the Russian president’s administration and other authorities to help their monotown out. It is not clear which statements in that letter struck Skrivanov as “libellous”. Police have started a check-up.

Karelia Journalists’ Union reminds republic’s governor and law enforcement about content of Russian constitution

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

Early in December, a court of law warranted the arrest of Petrozavodsk-based blogger Vadim Shtepa after the republican MVD’s centre for combating extremism charged him with demonstrating Nazi symbols on his personal pages in social networks, and the court upheld those charges. Since that was already the second similar law violation by Shtepa (who was fined 1,000 roubles for “extremist activity” in November), the judge ordered his placement under administrative arrest. Released one day later, Shtepa flew to Germany to attend a seminar and, judging by his comments for the press, he does not intend to return to Russia in the foreseeable future.

In the wake of Shtepa’s arrest, the Karelia Journalists’ Union (KJU) sent an open letter to the republic’s leader and the heads of regional law enforcement, calling the blogger’s arrest “unlawful” since publishing ethnic and cultural symbols (solar signs), even if these outwardly resemble Nazi symbols, cannot be seen as the promotion (propaganda) of Nazi ideology. The authors called law enforcement’s attention to the fact that anti-extremism legislation ties together two actions – demonstration and propaganda, and it is only if both are proven to have taken place simultaneously can anyone’s action (including a blogger’s posting) be qualified as “extremist”.

The authors of the open letter assessed V. Shtepa’s arrest as an act meant to intimidate journalists throughout Karelia.

For the full text of the KJU statement, see the NEWS FROM PARTNERS section below.


RSF 2015 Press Freedom Award goes to Belarusian journalists

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres, RSF) Austria gave this year’s UNESCO-sponsored Press Freedom Awards to two journalists from Belarus – Natalya Radina, chief editor of the Charter97.org website, and Yegor Martinovich, deputy editor of the newspaper Nasha Niva. Radina received the award for her article “Don’t Kiss Dictators’ Hands”, and Martinovich for his journalistic investigation into how Belarusian officials live in the elite residential area Drozdy.


  • Freimut Duve, the first OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
  • Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
  • Eva Nowotny, President of the Austrian Commission for UNESCO
  • Wolfgang Petritsch, Austrian Ambassador at the OECD in Paris
  • Albert Rohan, Former General Secretary of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Rubina Moehring, President of Reporters without Borders Austria

[Khartiya’97 report, 11 December]


Media in Yekaterinburg to have fewer questions to courts

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The House of Justice in Yekaterinburg on 8 December played host to a seminar for district and city court officials in charge of relations with the press. The seminar involved Sergei Plotnikov, a member of the regional Journalists’ Union board and head of the Guild of Forensic Reporters.

As noted on the JU website, training seminars for heads of judicial press offices is “an old tradition”. Representatives of the third and fourth branches of power sometimes see things differently, but the main vector of improving their relations lies through promoting mutual trust, understanding, and co-operation. It was for these purposes that the Sverdlovsk Region Court and the regional Journalists’ Union signed a co-operation agreement in December 2013, based on which the Guild was established that currently assesses the degree of courts’ openness to the press and, among other factors, the efficiency of judicial press secretaries’ work.

The latest seminar was organised by Yekaterina Maslennikova and her colleagues from the regional court’s press office. The trainees were broken into pairs where one played the role of a judge answering reporters’ questions, and the other of a moderator conducting an impromptu press conference over some high-resonance cases earlier reviewed by the regional court, or by city or districts courts in and beyond the Sverdlovsk Region.


Statement by Karelia Journalists’ Union


  • Hudilainen, Head of the Republic of Karelia
  • V. Kukushkin, Minister of Internal Affairs
  • A. Seryshev, Head of Karelia FSB
  • K. Gabrielyan, Karelia Prosecutor
  • Y. Baboido, Head of Karelia Investigative Committee
  • A. Nakvas, Chairman of Karelia Supreme Court
  • A. Sudakov, Chairman of Petrozavodsk City Court
  • D. Artyukhin, Head of Karelia Roskomnadzor

Dear Sirs:

Journalist and blogger Vadim Shtepa, a member of the Karelia Journalists’ Union (KJU), was arrested in Karelia on 4 December. The official reason for his arrest was his “demonstrating Nazi symbols on his personal pages in social networks”.

The Karelia Interior Ministry’s centre for combating extremism, and later a court of law, mistook a number of the images he posted for Nazi symbols. Those images included a photo of a 19th-century Vologda table cloth featuring a solar sign resembling a Nazi symbol; a photo of a black teenager holding the same sign; a photo of a visiting card of the leader of an organisation outlawed in Russia; and a photo of Shtepa the journalist posing in a Finnish city in front of a tank bearing a Nazi-like symbol. No calls [for acts of extremism], slogans, or extremist comments were ever published.

This notwithstanding, Vadim Shtepa was detained on 4 December. Judge Natalya Tarabrina ordered 24-hour arrest for a journalist who we think does not pose any threat to society at all.

The Karelia Journalists’ Union is deeply disturbed by the arrest of our colleague Vadim Shtepa. A warning or a fine, in our view, would be the maximum adequate punishment for an offence of this kind, if it was ever proven in real terms. The KJU is opposed to the propaganda of Nazism. At the same time, we believe that in the situation with Shtepa, the court failed to prove that an offence had ever been committed; that the posted images did demonstrate Nazi symbols. An old Vologda table cloth or a Finnish tank near which thousands of tourists from all over the world take pictures is a very questionable, as we see it, demonstration of Nazi symbols.

Moreover, in accordance with the Federal Law “On Countering Extremist Activity”, extremism is defined as “propagandizing and publicly demonstrating Nazi paraphernalia”. In other words, “demonstration” without “propaganda”, as was the case with our colleague, does not amount to extremism.

We see Vadim Shtepa’s arrest not as a measure of fighting the promotion of banned symbols but as an attempt to intimidate an “inconvenient” journalist who used to boldly criticise the authorities without breaking Russia’s laws. It is an act meant to intimidate not only Shtepa but also those journalists in Karelia who take the liberty of criticising those at the helm, and who view the ongoing developments ironically, or still more often, with bitterness.

We believe Karelia is a region where real journalism still exists, and where one can still publicly express one’s views without violating the laws of Russia. We stress the point that journalists in Karelia know Russian legislation well and always seek to comply with it, however absurd it may sometimes look to us. Yet we are convinced that arresting a person for pictures in social networks – ironical pictures but ones not calling for the overthrow of governments – looks more than an instance of imposing censorship; it looks like an attempt at repressing a journalist.

Vadim Shtepa’s arrest is yet another signal from government officials who zealously seek “fifth column” representatives among normal, sensible journalists, while often charging them – publicly and groundlessly – with receipt of Western money or affiliation with foreign secret services.

We, Karelian journalists, do not work for Western secret services – we work for the people of Karelia. We mix with residents, see what is going on around us, and report about it. We do not cherish illusions about today’s reality; we are not prone to wishful thinking; we do not call ourselves patriots at every corner. Our patriotism is our conviction that we must tell people the truth and draw authorities’ attention to problems, rather than turn a blind eye to what is really troubling the people. We are guided by the Media Law which entitles us to search for, request, receive, and disseminate information. Our patriotism is our desire to live in peace, without wars, to deal with our internal problems and openly discuss, not hush up, them. Our patriotism is our desire to see our constitutional rights, the rights guaranteed to us by the laws of Russia, duly respected.

We see Vadim Shtepa’s arrest as a threat and a warning to the entire media community. It is a signal that things may become still worse tomorrow, that free journalism and free expression may die out in Karelia as well. We are convinced that if we keep silent now, Stepa’s arrest may not be the last one. Therefore, we send a backwards signal to those who see our criticism, our attempts to find the answers to questions that seem important to our fellow citizens, as a threat. We will not keep silent because we want to live in a free country that respects its citizens and its laws. We want to abide by the Russian constitution, which stipulates in black and white:

  1. Everyone is guaranteed freedom of thought and expression.
  2. Propaganda and agitation instigating social, racial, inter-ethnic or religious hatred or enmity is inadmissible. Propagandizing social, racial, ethnic, religious, or linguistic superiority is forbidden.
  3. No one can be coerced into expressing one’s views and convictions or into not doing so.
  4. Everyone has the right to freely search for, receive, pass on, produce, and disseminate information by any legal means. The list of data constituting state secrets is determined by federal legislation.
  5. Freedom of mass information is guaranteed. Censorship is forbidden.

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