Дайджест
5 Ноября 2009 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 451


RUSSIA
1. Chelyabinsk Region. “Expensive” deputies feel no remorse
2. Perm Region. Bankruptcy: a road to thriving?
3. Yekaterinburg. How to disrupt your own news conference

ARMENIA
Parliament passes law to defend journalists

GEORGIA
A street in Tbilisi to be named after Anna Politkovskaya

KYRGYZSTAN
Municipal newspaper reporter beaten up in Osh

UKRAINE
Journalists beaten up in Donetsk and Zhitomir

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in October 2009

OUR PARTNERS
Press Development Institute Siberia holds seminar in Novosibirsk




RUSSIA

1. Chelyabinsk Region. “Expensive” deputies feel no remorse

By Irina Gundareva,
GDF staff correspondent in Ural Federal District

After eleven long sittings, the town court in Korkino, Chelyabinsk Region, has found in favor of Marina Morozova, a staff correspondent for the newspaper Chelyabinsky Rabochiy, on two legal claims lodged against her by a local “oligarch” and parliamentarian, Viktor Pupyshev, and his colleague Natalia Loshchinina. The plaintiffs charged the journalist with an attempt to ruin their honor, dignity and business reputation by publishing a March 19, 2009 article “Capricious Servants of the People” that criticized them for procrastination with the passing of a package of “anti-crisis” amendments to the budget resulting in the delayed payments of subsidies and wages to librarians.

Prior to the publication, in January 2009, an extraordinary session of the town council had failed to pass the amendments by only two votes. The group of those who had voted against were Pupyshev, the council head, his deputy Loshchinina and three other council members who were unwilling to support the town’s chief financial officer’s proposal to stop paying Pupyshev for his part-time work on the council (with the rest of his time devoted to his private business). The chairman’s salary, about RUR 670,000, had been used to finance the staff’s operation and other council needs, e.g. the purchase of new furniture. The situation had not changed until Morozova’s publication.

In March, M. Morozova failed to get any comments from deputy council head Loshchinina who only kept asking counter-questions and finally invited the journalist to pay an official visit to her office. That conversation was reproduced in an abridged form in Chelyabinsky Rabochiy.

“For nearly five months the two council members kept silent, unwilling to explain their standpoint,” M. Morozova told the GDF reporter, “and in late July Viktor Pupyshev and Natalia Loshchinina lodged legal claims against me and the newspaper I work for. The plaintiffs wanted me to pay them RUR 100,000 each in compensation for the ‘tremendous damage’ done to their honor and dignity, with the newspaper required to publish a refutation. To make their claims look all the more serious, they supplied conclusions written in haste by some privately hired linguistic expert.”
 
Pupyshev did not attend the preliminary court hearing; according to his business partners, he had gone on holiday to Turkey. He did come to the second hearing, all suntanned and well-rested, and declared that “each person has his or her own worth”, implying that he in person as well as his time were expensive enough for him to claim a hundred thousand rubles in moral damage compensation. His interests were defended in court by a lady representative who seemed to have a very vague idea of what had actually happened. While trying to prove the journalist’s guilt, Loshchinina and Pupyshev’s representative buried the court under heaps of official documents of which some had nothing at all to do with the case and others even proved helpful to Chelyabinsky Rabochiy lawyer Anna Tarlova as documents throwing light on the true state of things. When the victory was already near, the journalists learned about the regional Auditing Chamber’s conducting a planned inspection of all budget-financed organizations in Korkino. The court and the newspaper immediately requested the chamber’s report about its latest audit which confirmed that the chairman’s salary was a source of meaningful support for the town council’s entire apparatus. In 2008, bonuses to Loshchinina alone amounted to about RUR 280,000.

The court turned the two parliamentarians’ claims down, stating that Chelyabinsky Rabochiy and its author Morozova had reported the full truth. That, however, did not make Pupyshev or Loshchinina feel remorse. They filed complaints with the higher-standing regional court, determined to go as far as it takes in the run-up to pending mayoral elections. Chairman Pupyshev feels as if he has already won the seat of the head of Korkino administration.


2. Perm Region. Bankruptcy: a road to thriving?

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The municipal newspaper Novoye Vremya (NV) based in Kizel, Perm Region, has been going through the bankruptcy process. The capital of the regional coal-mining industry just twenty years ago, the town of Kizel cannot boast a single operating coal mine today, with about 40,000 ex-miners making up its current population.

The local municipal newspaper Novoye Vremya (formerly Uralskaya Kochegarka) has had a difficult time, too, with its circulation cut down substantially and the intervals between the releases of new issues steadily growing together with its wage arrears and debts on payments for printing services, communications, and electricity. By this summer NV’s aggregate debt had totaled RUR 1,000,000, calling the small newspaper’s future into the question.

It new editor-in-chief, Svetlana Germanova, saw the only way out – to declare the newspaper bankrupt. The bankruptcy process is nearly over now, with a group of journalists setting up a new company, Advertising and Publishing Center Ltd., which will continue releasing NV and fulfilling its obligations to subscribers. The staffers hope that the renovated municipal newspaper will turn out more profitable, freer and more independent.


3. Yekaterinburg. How to disrupt your own news conference

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Ural Federal District

Alexander Mikh, general director of two leading local television networks – Regional TV and Digital TV, has shown appalling disrespect for the media reporters by failing to attend his own pre-announced news conference at the headquarters of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda-Ural, where he was expected to report on current achievements and his outlook for the future in the development of digital television in the region.

The organizers said A. Mikh was dissatisfied with the absence of TV reporters; only his own subordinates and a few print media reporters had arrived to attend the news conference. But then, it seems likely that Mikh was unwilling to answer “sensitive” questions from online journalists: the project to unroll digital TV networks in the Middle Ural Region is known to have been a very limited success so far.

[Based on Novy Region news agency reports]

____________

ARMENIA

Parliament passes law to defend journalists

On October 28 the Armenian parliament adopted at the first reading a bill amending the Criminal Code provisions concerning interference with journalistic activities. It adds a new paragraph to Article 164 imposing sanctions for threats and violence against journalists and their family members. Violators will be up to a fine of 200,000 to 400,000 drams (approx. USD 500 to USD 1,000), correctional labor for up to two years, or imprisonment for up to five years.

According to one of the authors, the amendments were made in view of the ever more frequent attacks on journalists.

Over the past year, at least five media workers have been attacked in Armenia. Last November Edik Bagdasaryan, head of the Armenian Association of Investigative Journalists, was beaten up. In March 2009 Gagik Shashmyan, photo correspondent for the newspapers Utro and Chetvyortaya Vlast, was attacked. A month later, law enforcement officers beat up David Dzhalalyan, a reporter for the A1+ news agency; and an attempt was made on the life of Argishti Kiviryan, coordinator of the news agency Armenia Today. Last May, the prominent TV anchor Never Mnatsakanyan was beaten up in Yerevan.

[Lenta.ru report, October 29]

_____________

GEORGIA

A street in Tbilisi to be named after Anna Politkovskaya


One of the streets in the Vake-Saburtali District of the Georgian capital Tbilisi will be named after Anna Politkovskaya, as decided by the municipal administration, the Novosti-Gruzia news agency has reported.

On October 16 Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigations Committee under the Office of the RF Prosecutor General, said the murder case of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya would be disclosed, and that her suspected killers had been acquitted because part of the evidence had been “deliberately and unlawfully withdrawn to get the case fall apart.”

On October 19 the Investigations Committee was reported to have got written pledges not to leave town from the brothers Ibrahim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov, the alleged killers who had earlier been acquitted in court.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee censured Russia for the killings of journalists and human rights activists and the unfair administration of justice. “The degree of threat posed to human rights defenders in Russia is amazing, and the mortality rate among journalists and human rights activists is very high,” Ruth Wedgewood, U.S. representative in the U.N. committee, said referring to the undisclosed murders of Anna Politkovskaya, her colleague Anastasia Baburova, Forbes Russia editor Paul Khlebnikov and human rights activist Natalia Estemirova.

There have been no reports of streets named in A. Politkovskaya’s memory anywhere in Russia.

[Based on Polit.ru reports]

____________

KYRGYZSTAN

Municipal newspaper reporter beaten up in Osh


Kubanychbek Zholdoshev, a reporter for the municipal newspaper Osh Shamy was attacked by unidentified persons in the city of Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan, late on November 1.

Three men attacked and beat the journalist as he was returning home after a meeting with friends. According to some sources, he was alone in a taxi cab whose driver had been detained and taken away by traffic policemen for a checkup of documents.

K. Zholdoshev was taken to one of the city hospitals in Osh.

His colleagues link the assault with his recent publications about protest actions staged by Osh university students. One of the latest stories criticized the management of the university whose students held an unauthorized rally last week in protest against soaring education prices and hostel fees.

Osh mayor Melis Myrzakmatov was compelled to meet the protesters’ demands by promising to set up a special commission to look into their complaints, and not to raise the education and hostel pay rates until the university management improved both the education quality and living conditions.

Earlier Kubanychbek Zholdoshev worked as a correspondent for Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyz Service and the television network Channel Five.

[Fergana.ru report, November 2]

____________

UKRAINE

Journalists beaten up in Donetsk and Zhitomir


On October 29, the Independent Media Union (NMPU) reported the beating of journalist Maxim Kasyanov.
 
“Apart from an apology, we are demanding the institution of criminal proceedings and comprehensive investigation of the case. It was by police officers that the journalist was beaten up – very cynically, after he showed his journalistic ID,” NMPU leader Roman Skrypin said.

The union statement says the incident occurred in Donetsk on October 24. NMPU and the Association of Socially Responsible Traders were planning, as a charity action, to jointly deliver food products worth 110,000 grivnas to a boarding school free of charge. Union member Maxim Kasyanov was assigned to supervise the payment for, and delivery of, the food products. He arranged with the salesmen to have the food packages kept for two hours at the store until he had the transportation problem settled. At about 4 p.m. Maxim received a phone call from one of the salesmen telling him that unknown people were stealing the food products he had paid for. Arriving at the store, Kasyanov found his purchases being carried to a parked truck by several men who said they were police officers confiscating food products that had allegedly been sold in violation of the established rules. They ignored the invoice and ID he showed them and went on with their confiscation action. To check the transportation conditions, Maxim climbed into the truck body and asked to show him the confiscation protocol. The officers pushed him out of the truck and proceeded to beat him. Then they handcuffed him and attempted to shove him into the trunk of a nearby car but finally got him on the back seat and drove him to the Voroshilovsky District police department.

Two hours later they released him to be hospitalized with a concussion and numerous bruises.

Another attack occurred in Zhitomir, where parliamentarian Oleg Cherpitsky beat up Alexei Vasilevich, the editor of the newspaper Skandalny Zhitomir and leader of the regional public organization Bdzhola. Meeting the journalist on a parking lot near a shopping mall, the deputy approached Vasilevich and began to threaten him, and finally punched him several times in the face.

“I could feel the smell of alcohol coming from Cherpitsky as he came up to me, punched me in the face and threatened to kill me,” A. Vasilevich recalls.

He was diagnosed to have a concussion and numerous bruises. The Bogunsky District police in Zhitomir are investigating the circumstances. Vasilevich himself is sure the attack was linked with his professional activities: he repeatedly published stories criticizing Cherpitsky’s parliamentary performance.

[Based on From-ua.com. reports]

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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in October 2009


Attacks on journalists – 7 (Andrei Khmelevsky, reporter, newspaper Kolokolnya, Moscow Region; Vyacheslav Belozyorov, cameraman, website of public movement Medved, Altai Territory; Vyacheslav Yashchenko, freelance journalist, Astrakhan; Oleg Teplishchev, reporter, newspaper Zhitel, Astrakhan; crew of reporters for REN-TV, Dagestan; crew of reporters for TV-Makhachala, Dagestan; Olga Gumanova, freelance correspondent for Interfax news agency, Moscow; Saule Berkimbayeva, editor, Predsedatel TSZh magazine, St. Petersburg).

Attacks on media offices – 1 (newspaper Yug Time, Rostov Region).

Instances of censorship – 1 (TV/Radio Company Muzhi, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 3 (Damir Shaikhutdinov, editor, newspaper Chally Yashlere, Samara Region, twice; newspaper Kommersant, Volgograd).

Unlawful sacking of editor/journalist – 1 (Raissa Belorukova, deputy editor-in-chief, TV/Radio Company Muzhi, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 7 (Maxim Grudtsev and Yegor Osipov, news agency Vysota 102, Volgograd; Jutta Blum, German freelance journalist, detained in Krasnodar Territory; Ian Gordeyev, Nezavisimaya Gazeta correspondent in Kazan; Ruslan Krivobok, photo correspondent, RIA-Novosti news agency, Moscow; Natalia Kirichenko, reporter, newspaper Noviye Khroniki, Moscow; Valeria Ilyinykh, photo correspondent, newspaper Vecherny Yekaterinburg, Yekaterinburg).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 28, worth a total of RUR 60,093,002.

Earlier claims against journalists and media, considered – 12, satisfied – 6, total amount of moral damage compensation charged – RUR 255,000.

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.) – 50.

Threats against journalists and media – 6 (Alexander Podrabinek, Yezhednevny Zhurnal, Moscow; Maxim Grudtsev and Yegor Osipov, news agency Vysota 102, Volgograd; crew of REN-TV reporters, threatened in Ingushetia; newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; Olga Gumanova, freelance correspondent for Interfax news agency, Moscow).

Closure of media outlets – 5 (newspapers Triada, Resume Media-Press and Zayavlyayem o Sebe – all in Krasnodar Territory; Nichego Lichnogo (Nothing Personal) show, TVC, Moscow; newspaper Moskovskaya Pravda, Moscow).

Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 1 (newspaper Mordovia, Mordovia).

Interference with web publications – 1 (website of news agency Novy Region).

Release of duplicate, i.e. rival, newspapers – 1 (newspaper Chitai-Telenedelya, Rostov Region).

Confiscation of or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 4.

Other forms of pressure and infringement of journalists’ rights – 37.

***

Last week, the Glasnost Defense Foundation was referred to at least 10 times in the Internet, specifically at:
http://nashavlast.ru/article_description/109/1153.html
http://www.caoinform.ru/info/detail/novosti/studentov_zhurfaka_mgu_nauchat_samooborone.news.php
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6036
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6034
http://www.georgiatimes.info/?area=articleItem&id=24479
http://www.ferghana.ru/article.php?id=6353
http://www.kommersant.ru/doc-y.aspx?DocsID=1260897
http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2009/122/02.html

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OUR PARTNERS

Press Development Institute Siberia holds seminar in Novosibirsk


In Novosibirsk on October 22-23, the Press Development Institute Siberia held a seminar, “Human Rights and Freedoms: Modern Methods of Effective Communication for Citizens, Human Rights Activists and Journalists”, as part of its project “School of Civil Communications” (www.scc.sibirp.ru). The two-day seminar attracted publishers, human rights activists, professors of journalism and lawyers from five regions of Siberia and the Urals.

To practice fighting for human rights, the seminar participants were invited to work online on the www.taktaktak.ru web server contributing to the ongoing investigation “Let’s Defend City Woods and Parks” under the guidance of Yuri Trigubovich, correspondent for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta v Sibiri. They advanced versions, edited the investigation plan, searched for federal and regional legislation protecting afforestation and greenery areas, scanned different news media for media-related conflicts and public and parliamentary hearings, and studied international laws and judicial precedents.

All communication exchanges among the trainees were via the website only, replicating the situation in which real investigation participants work online on www.taktaktak.ru in different regions of Russia.

For details about the collective work of journalists, public activists and instructors, see http://www.taktaktak.ru/investigations?page=2

The seminar participants discussed international and Russian mechanisms of human rights protection and the independent media’s role in their application. In conclusion, they were shown video reports about IPR Siberia trainers and consultants’ internship in the United States. Oksana Silantyeva, media project manager with AltaPress Publishers’, and IPR Siberia director Viktor Yukechev described their American colleagues’ experience, achievements and expectations in the area of public communications.

The next seminar in the School of Civil Communications series is to be held later this month.

The project is co-sponsored by the EIDHR Media Projects Program managed and financed by the European Commission, USAID and IREX. IPR Siberia’s partners in the project are the Independent Regional Publishers’ Association (ANRI), the Novosibirsk-based public organization Assol, and the Press Development Association.




This Digest has been prepared by the Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF), http://www.gdf.ru.

We appreciate the support of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Digest released once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.
Distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editor-in-chief: Alexei Simonov

Editorial board: Boris Timoshenko – Monitoring Service chief, Pyotr Polonitsky – head of GDF regional network, Svetlana Zemskova – lawyer, Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy – translator, Alexander Efremov – web administrator in charge of Digest distribution.


We would appreciate reference to our organization in the event of any Digest-sourced information or other materials being used.

Contacts: Glasnost Defense Foundation, 4, Zubovsky Boulevard, Office 432, 119992 Moscow, Russia.
Telephone/fax: (495) 637-4947, 637-4420, e-mail: boris@gdf.ru, fond@gdf.ru
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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