10 Августа 2016 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 763


Negligent officials shirk publicity, resent press

By Tatyana Sedykh, editor, newspaper Moyo Poberezhye, Vanino, Far East

The Khabarovsk Region is long notorious for various illegal actions undertaken with impunity against journalists. Actually, one can expect anything happening to reporters there at any time, particularly if some government official gets carried away by his own proud feeling of grandeur and self-importance. Sometimes it is really hard to explain why officials - whether wearing or not wearing shoulder straps - should behave the way they do.

Toki 2 village in the Vanino District was shut down a year ago, with some of its residents left without a roof overhead. Having grown tired of waiting, writing complaints, hiring lawyers, and running from one judicial authority to another, the homeless appealed to the newspaper Moyo Poberezhye for help, since the new academic year was to begin soon, whereas it was not at all clear where the children from the shut-down taiga village would study or how they were supposed to get to the school. Besides, one could hardly be expected to start a new heating season in a village that no longer existed. At a meeting with Khabarovsk Region Governor Vyacheslav Shport, I personally handed to him the villagers' appeal. A week later, Anatoly Razmakhnin, deputy head of the regional administration in charge of cooperation with federal government bodies, came to Vanino to look into the protracted crisis and help solve the resettlement problem.

I had not been informed of the meeting, and but for a group of those left without housing for the coming winter, who had tipped me off, I would never know it was being planned at all. So I came uninvited to take some photo pictures of a conference that was so vital for the people I'd undertaken to help. The presence of a reporter evidently had not been planned, so the high-ranking visiting official frowned at me. As he was reading out the appeal I myself had handed to the governor, and seeing a camera in my hands, Razmakhnin protested: "Hey, what for are you doing this? Why are you photographing me? You should have asked my consent first!"

He repeated several times during the discussion that the housing issue was to be "tackled by another agency" but that the governor, having the villagers' appeal on hand, would "do whatever he can…" "The governor is the people's servant and it's his duty to help," I interrupted him. "Besides, Vanino district residents voted for him last time as he was running for the State Duma!" An FSB official who was attending the meeting instantly spotted "elements of corruption" in my words about the people's servant and his duty to help. "They voted for Mr Shport out of respect, not so he would supply them with housing!" he snapped at me.

Media regulator threatens Perm journalists with vaguely-defined sanctions

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Yuri Shchebetkov, head of the Perm Region department of the media regulator Roskomnadzor, has circulated a written inquiry among a number of media, requesting "legal explanations why a deceased citizen's personal data were disclosed without his heirs' consent". In his circular, Schebetkov, a former FSB official, threatened the addressees with potential legal (undefined) sanctions for disclosing the content of his inquiry to others.

"Attention: All personal data contained in this letter are confidential and not subject to dissemination and/or publishing. Persons not complying with this confidentiality requirement will be held liable under Russian Federation legislation," the official warned, imparting a certain degree of secrecy to his message. So what kind of "secrets" did the letter disclose to journalists?

It was about a complaint filed by the widow of Ivan Shatrov, an EkoPromBank Supervisory Board member who had died in London. Roskomnadzor decided to check whether the media were justified in reporting the sad news while disclosing the full name, place of work, and position of one of the former leaders of the broken bank.

To make sure this information is publicly accessible, suffice it to enter the bank's official website, ecoprombank.ru, and click on I. Shatrov's name. Also, one may leaf through RF Law "On Banks and Banking Activities", in which Article 8 requires a lending organisation to disclose the full names of the members of its Board of Directors/Supervisory Board on its official website for the general public to read. And Article 6.2.7 of the RF Personal Data Law stipulates that "no consent of personal data owners is needed when processing personal data subject to publication in line with federal legislation".

That's roughly what they wrote in reply to the media regulator, a Perm-based journalist told the GDF on anonymity terms. But what should they do with Shchebetkov's letter - burn it, or eat it up? What if somebody else saw this "secret" Roskomnadzor inquiry? Wouldn't the regulating agency qualify that as "disclosure" or "breach of confidentiality"? "What article of what law would we be held liable under? What kind of sanctions are we in for?" the colleague asked the GDF correspondent.

I forwarded these questions to Yevgeny Bobylev, the Perm Region Roskomnadzor department official designated in the circular as the person in charge. In a 3 August phone conversation, Bobylev told me that the phrase "Attention: All personal data…" was standard. As regards potential sanctions or the exact piece of legislation underlying them, he said he did not know and suggested I should request detailed explanations from his boss, Mr Shchebetkov, in person. Hopefully, the former FSB official will respond.

Popular news portal's logo unlawfully used in pre-election campaigning in Sakhalin Region

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

On Sakhalin Island, there is a very popular web portal, Sakh.com, featuring several dozen news websites among which the news agency Sakhalin.info enjoys the greatest popularity. According to a chat forum note posted on Sakhalin.info a few days ago, unidentified individuals presenting themselves as that agency's correspondents, were holding pre-election polls in the city of Dolinsk.

"Having read the questionnaire, I as a sociologist concluded that it was actually an agitation leaflet: the questions are formulated so as to drive home a certain kind of information into the respondent's brain. In other words, what they do is they try to zombie people," the forum visitor wrote.

Specifically, he explained, the questionnaire keeps repeating the name of one of the candidates for the city head, Oleg Sorokin, who at one time was vice-mayor in Dolinsk. And generally, the commentator wondered, "Is a media outlet allowed to engage in politics?"

The website's editorial board replied they had nothing to do with that poll. When asked to comment for the press, Mr Sorokin the mayoral candidate, too, denied his involvement and alleged that the polling action might have been initiated by his rivals.

Whoever the author of the campaigning leaflet may be, he has done nothing illegal so far, although in terms of morality, his action should be assessed very negatively, Sakhalin.info commented.

PARNAS Party nominee in Novosibirsk charged with showing swastika in social network

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Novosibirsk Region Interior Ministry Department has accused Yegor Savin, leader of the regional branch of the [opposition] PARNAS Party, of "propagandizing or publicly demonstrating Nazi symbols or paraphernalia" (an offence punishable under Administrative Code Article 20.3). As he was playing in the yard with his daughter and sons, he was approached by five plain-clothes men accompanied by the district police inspector, Savin told the GDF. "They also brought two eyewitnesses," he said. "The inspector showed me what he said was a screenshot of my VKontakte account. The photo picture on it was mine, but anyone can forge such an `account' in a couple of minutes. I've found it - there are 5 comments and 15 photos there, all marked by one and the same date, 4 July".

It should be noted that planting a swastika is as easy as planting drugs on a person. Graphically, the swastika imputed to Savin, according to his words, is very much like the one law enforcement "discovered" in his party's Novosibirsk office in April this year; at the time, they were looking for evidence against PARNAS supporter Maxim Kormelitsky, who was later sentenced (see digest 759) to 15 months in jail for "instigating hate and hostility based on religion".

His "extremism" case was trumped up for the sole purpose - to take him off the election race, Savin said. He leads the regional list of candidates for the State Duma and also runs in the Iskitim single-member constituency against pretty serious rivals - three-time Olympic champion Alexander Karelin of the United Russia Party; economist Mikhail Khazin of the Rodina (Motherland) Party; incumbent Duma MP Alexander Abalakov of the Communist Party, and others.

After he appealed to Roskomnadzor and the VKontakte network administration asking to block that obviously fake account, he looked there on 5 August only to see that the account was still publicly available, Savin said. The Nazi paraphernalia case has gone all the way to court but no review date has been scheduled so far. They might have a hard time proving his involvement with that social-network account: if a judge orders a forensic study by IT specialists, the swastika-forgery fact will become evident, the Novosibirsk PARNAS leader said.

The regional police department's press pool has refused to comment on the situation.


Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in JUNE 2016

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 6 (Pavel Brykin, Rossiya 1 TV Channel correspondent in Vladivostok; Shamil Abashilov, former chief editor, Molodyozh Dagestana weekly, Makhachkala; Denis Samsonov, blogger, St. Petersburg; Yegor Alekseyev, blogger, St. Petersburg; Olga Ripacheva, KVU news portal journalist, Rostov Region; Yevgeny Vlasov, SitiYug news portal correspondent, Rostov Region)

Instances of censorship - 3 (newspaper Znamya, Vladimir Region; newspaper Orskaya Gazeta, Orenburg Region; regional TV channels in Murmansk)

Criminal charges against journalists, media and bloggers - 3 (newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno, Karachai-Cherkess Republic; Yevgeny Kiselyov, freelancer, Kiev; Vladimir Luzgin, blogger, Perm)

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist - 4 (Valery Yakov, chief editor, newspaper Novyye Izvestiya, Moscow; Natalya Bashkirova, chief editor, newspaper Znamya, Vladimir Region; Yekaterina Barabash, Interfax news agency journalist, Moscow; Igor Sosnovsky, chief editor, newspaper Orskaya Gazeta, Orenburg Region)

Detention by police, FSB, etc. - 7 (Robert Wrubliewski and Marczin Wyrwal, Polish journalists, detained in Smolensk; Gleb Napreyevno, Colta.ru journalist, detained in St. Petersburg; Alexander Valov, chief editor, news website BlogSochi, and HBO Real Sports film crew (USA), detained in Krasnodar Region; Shamil Abashilov, former chief editor, Molodyozh Dagestana weekly, Makhachkala; Saida Vagabova, newspaper Chernovik journalist, Makhachkala; Vladimir Kucherenko, freelancer, Moscow; Krym 24 TV channel film crew, Crimea)

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.) - 45

Threats against journalists, bloggers and media - 4 (Alexander Gorny, blogger, Crimea; Alexei Togoshiyev, director, news website tUday.ru, Buryatia; Yekaterina Zakharova, Tvoy Tambov news portal correspondent, Tambov; Yegor Alekseyev, blogger, St. Petersburg)

Closure of media - 1 (print version of newspaper Moskovskaya Pravda, Moscow)

Interference with internet publications - 2 (Fontanka.ru online newspaper, St. Petersburg, twice)

Seizure of, or damage to photo, audio and video apparatus and computers - 1 (camcorder of TKT-TV channel, Leningrad Region)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 30


Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in JULY 2016

Deaths of journalists - 1 (Andrei Nazarenko, Rossiya 1 TV channel cameraman, Moscow).

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 7 (Yelena Suslova, deputy editor, newspaper Otkrytaya Gazeta, Stavropol Region; Eldar Bulatov, Ura.ru news agency journalist, Khanty-Mansiysk; Life78 TV channel film crew, Leningrad Region; Yelena Sidorenkova, newspaper Rabochaya Demokratiya, Moscow Region; staff journalists with newspaper Vyberi Luchsheye, Murmansk Region; Yermak TV channel film crew, Yekaterinburg, attacked in Sverdlovsk Region; another Yermak TV channel film crew, Yekaterinburg; REN TV film crew, Moscow)

Instances of censorship - 1 (Gradus.pro news website, North Ossetia)

Criminal charges against journalists, media and bloggers - 4 (Boris Obraztsov, chief editor, newspaper Tridevyatyi Region, Kaliningrad; Yulia Vassilyeva, chief editor, news portal Ochevidets Media, Kurgan; Sergei Chichkanov, blogger, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District; Andrei Piontkovsky, freelancer, Moscow)

Detention by police, FSB, etc. - 4 (Ruslan Alibekov, photographer, newspaper Chernovik, Makhachkala; Boris Obraztsov, chief editor, newspaper Tridevyatyi Region, Kaliningrad; Kristina Gorelik, freelancer, detained in Rostov Region; REV TV film crew, Moscow)

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.) - 34

Threats against journalists, bloggers and media - 2 (Eldar Bulatov, Ura.ru news agency journalist, Khanty-Mansiysk; Yermak TV channel film crew, Yekaterinburg, threatened in Sverdlovsk Region)

Refusal to print (or distribute) media - 1 (newspaper Pravda, Krasnoyarsk)

Interference with internet publications - 1 (website of Russia Today TV broadcaster, Moscow)

Seizure of, or damage to photo, audio and video apparatus and computers - 4 (microphone of REN TV film crew, Moscow; office telephone of newspaper Vyberi Luchsheye, Murmansk Region; camcorder of Yermak TV channel film crew, Yekaterinburg, damaged in Sverdlovsk Region; camcorder of Yermak TV channel film crew, Yekaterinburg; camcorder of REN TV film crew, Moscow)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 31

2016 Andrei Sakharov Competition "Journalism as an Act of Conscience" announced

The jury of the 2016 Andrei Sakharov Competition "Journalism as an Act of Conscience" starts accepting works submitted for this year's contest. The submission deadline is November 1.

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, 2015 and October 15, 2016 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 (gate of Journalists' Union of Russia), Office 438, 119992, Moscow, Russia, with a note: "Andrei Sakharov Competition `Journalism as an Act of Conscience'".

For further details, see www.gdf.ru or call: (+7 495) 637 4947.

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:
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