Дайджест
11 Ноября 2009 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 452


EVENT OF THE WEEK
Suspected killers of Markelov and Baburova detained

RUSSIA

1. Tyumen Region. Journalist attacked
2. Republic of Karelia. Judges reluctant to ensure constitutionally guaranteed openness of judicial proceedings
3. Rostov Region. Prosecutor’s office declines to institute criminal proceedings on charges of interference with professional journalistic activities
4. Rostov-on-Don. Military reporter’s book arrested by police and judges
5. Moscow. Authorities ejecting Moscow Helsinki Group from its premises

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

Some statistics cited

OUR PUBLICATIONS
Republic of Dagestan. Newspaper pressed hard to change editorial policy




EVENT OF THE WEEK

Suspected killers of Markelov and Baburova detained

The law enforcers have detained two suspected killers of defense lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasia Baburova who were shot and killed in Moscow on January 19 this year. According to an Interfax news agency source in the law enforcement bodies, the detainees are former members of a nationalist organization who decided to punish Markelov for his having repeatedly defended anti-fascists and victims of nationalists in court. Specifically, he represented the interests of the families of immigrants killed by skinheads; the Kungayev family from Chechnya whose daughter had been killed by a Russian army colonel, Yuri Budanov; and Mikhail Beketov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda ruthlessly beaten up by unidentified attackers last year.

The two suspects, Yevgenia Khasis and Nikita Tikhonov, were detained by members of the Investigations Committee (IC) under the RF Prosecutor General’s Office, in cooperation with FSB and police servicemen, in the course of special operations on November 3-4. According to IC spokesman Vladimir Markin, they have been charged with murdering S. Markelov and A. Baburova. As established in the course of preliminary investigation, minutes before the killing Khasis had kept the victims under close surveillance informing her accomplice over the phone of their movements until Tikhovov caught up with them, discharged his pistol into their heads and ran away.

The RIA Novosti news agency has quoted Russia’s FSB director Alexander Bortnikov as saying on November 5 that one of the suspects had already confessed to the crime and that his agency considered the suspects to be members of a radical group from which firearms had been confiscated in large numbers.

Staffers of Novaya Gazeta with which S. Markelov and A. Baburova used to cooperate maintain that it may be too early to announce that these murders have been solved. “I would wait until the picture is absolutely clear. Reports about the ‘full disclosure’ of many previous killings of prominent public activists were later proven to have been premature,” NG editor-in-chief Sergey Sokolov said adding that “with the investigation still underway, more suspects are likely to be identified”.




RUSSIA

1. Tyumen Region. Journalist attacked


By Elena Romanova,
GDF staff correspondent in Ural Federal District

Oleg Rayevsky, head of the public and social problems division of the newspaper Yarkovskiye Izvestia, was brought to the surgery ward of Regional Hospital No. 24 in Yarkovo late on October 30 with a concussion and several abdominal and facial traumas, having been beaten up by unidentified men near a café where he had had dinner with his wife.

“Ten or so men stood waiting for me near the entrance, to start beating me without explaining anything. That did not look like an ordinary fist fight. Nor had I provoked them in any way,” the victim told the GDF correspondent.

The assault may be linked with Rayevsky’s professional activities: shortly before that, he had registered a new independent newspaper, Yarkovosti, the first issue of which had to be released in early November. Oleg had gathered information and conducted a journalistic investigation of problems with the laying of a gas supply pipeline in his village focusing on the way budgetary allocations were being used.


2. Republic of Karelia. Judges reluctant to ensure constitutionally guaranteed openness of judicial proceedings

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

A judge of the city court in Petrozavodsk, Karelia, has prohibited Antonina Kramskikh, a reporter for the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets v Karelii (MKK), to use a Dictaphone during a court hearing of the case of V. Krisevich, former director of the road-building company Avtodor and ex-deputy of the republic’s parliament, who is facing embezzlement charges. Wishing to reflect the proceedings as accurately as possible, Antonina switched on her dictating machine, but defense lawyer A. Solovyov demanded that the judge ban the audio recording, allegedly because the reporter could later request the protocol of the court sitting but was not entitled to use any recording apparatus.
 
A. Kramskikh disagreed with him, citing federal legislation giving the journalists the right to make audio recordings in the courtroom.
 
Having heard both parties Judge O. Palchun banned the use of the Dictaphone, unexpectedly supporting the defense lawyer’s rather odd claim about his “courtroom statements being protected by the federal copyright law against quoting by others” as part of a would-be book that he intended to “publish after the end of the trial”.

The president of Karelia’s Journalists’ Union has filed complaints with the Supreme Court of Karelia and the city court of Petrozavodsk pointing out that journalists should be protected by the court when requesting permission to make audio recordings, since the factual accuracy of their reports should be welcomed and encouraged. In line with Article 123 of the RF Constitution, judicial proceedings must be as transparent as possible and audio recording of criminal court proceedings is a perfectly lawful practice, although subject to authorization by the judge.


3. Rostov Region. Prosecutor’s office declines to institute criminal proceedings on charges of interference with professional journalistic activities

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Since last February the newspaper K Vashim Uslugam (KVU) issued in the town of Shakhty, Rostov Region, has been unable to have criminal proceedings initiated against P. Bryukhovetskaya, head of the Labor and Social Development Department, for her meddling in a journalist’s professional activities.

A photo correspondent was assigned by the KVU editor to take pictures of a former hospital that, according to angry phone callers, was being torn down, although in line with earlier plans it had to be renovated and re-equipped as a nursing home for senior citizens. A security guard banned the use of a photo camera near the building. Department head L. Bryukhovetskaya, to whom the journalist complained, prohibited any photography until she was offered to read the KVU story about the hospital prior to printing.

Peregudov Publishers’, the company issuing K Vashim Uslugam, complained to the regional prosecutor’s office in Rostov which forwarded the complaint to the town prosecutor’s office in Shakhty; the latter declined to institute criminal proceedings against Bryukhovetskaya under either Article 144 (“Interference with journalists’ professional activities”) or Article 140 “Refusal to provide information”). That decision was canceled by the regional Investigations Committee and the complaint was returned for additional checking.

But even after another checkup, the town prosecutor refused to launch criminal proceedings, with reference to Bryukhovetskaya’s statement that the photo correspondent had been prohibited to take pictures of the former hospital for the sake of his own safety: “The building is too shabby and may collapse any minute now”.


4. Rostov-on-Don. Military reporter’s book arrested by police and judges

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

The release of the book by military correspondent Col. Nikolai Astashkin “Tragedy & Farce: Modern Cossacks Through the Looking-Glass” caused broad public repercussions. Atamans of the Great Don Army were swept by a wave of indignation finding themselves the targets of sharp criticism by the author. As is known, there are two Great Don Armies – one “official” and “pro-government”, the other “pro-opposition” and in conflict with the first one. The book’s cover page features a portrait of Viktor Vodolatsky, the Chief Registered Ataman of the Great Don Army and Vice-Governor of the Rostov Region, whose activities the author finds unsatisfactory in many aspects. Colonel Astashkin is convinced it is his critical stand that triggered a whole series of attacks on his book.

“On July 24 I was transporting stacks of my book to the Upper Don area where Cossacks were due to hold a big meeting,” N. Astashkin told the GDF correspondent. “The vehicle was stopped at a traffic police checkpoint, and police officers seized my books and carried them away. It was not until a few days ago that I had a phone call from Maj. Fomichov, an investigator with the Krasnosulinsky District police department, who told me I could come over to pick up the books. But, in the first place, I don’t have a car to go there, and secondly, I think they should apologize for their officers’ unlawful behavior.”

One of the “Tragedy & Farce” characters, Anatoly Kiblitsky, has lodged a legal claim in defense of his honor and dignity. Without starting to consider the case in essence, Judge Usenko of the Oktyabrsky District court in Rostov-on-Don has already banned the distribution of Astashkin’s book either through retail sales or otherwise “to secure due legal process” in respect of the legal claim filed by Kiblitsky.


5. Moscow. Authorities ejecting Moscow Helsinki Group from its premises

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Moscow authorities are pressing for the Moscow Helsinki Group and the city branch of the Human Rights Movement to move out of their current premises; the lease agreement with them will not be prolonged.

Human rights defenders see this as yet another proof of the city administration’s negative attitude towards their activities. Over the past few months, there have been several conflicts: over a banned rally in defense of Article 31 of the RF Constitution; over attempts to eject children’s organizations from premises managed by the Municipal Property Committee, etc. The Human Rights Movement leader Lev Ponomaryov maintains that his association may be giving the city authorities lots of headache also by its socially useful activities, such as consultations on details of the ongoing community service reform. He says the administration “is looking for any pretext at all to justify its refusal to extend the lease agreement”.

Ella Pamfilova, head of the Human Rights and Civil Society Development Council under the RF President, has told the radio station Ekho Moskvy (Moscow Echo) she is concerned about the lease problems the human rights defenders have been facing by the score of late, and that she may “have to meet with President Medvedev to discuss the matter if the situation grows worse”. So far, she has sent Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov a message urging him to “ensure that people are given the opportunity to extend their lease agreement as prescribed by the law”.




GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

Some statistics cited

Last week, the Glasnost Defense Foundation was referred to at least 10 times in the Internet, including at:

http://www.civitas.ru/news.php?code=8024
http://www.barentspress.org/ru/default.asp?lesmer=1180
http://www.ej.ru/?a=note&id=9594
http://www.lenta.cjes.ru/?m=11&y=2009&lang=rus&nid=15433
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6050
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6049
http://www.msunews.ru/news/2422/




OUR PUBLICATIONS

Republic of Dagestan. Newspaper pressed hard to change editorial policy


By Dmitry Florin,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

The pulsating scandal around the Dagestani newspaper Nastoyashcheye Vremya (NV) is entering a new phase.

In March 2008, NV staffers urged the Investigations Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of Dagestan to institute criminal proceedings against the newspaper’s general director Rizvan Rizvanov who had refused to sign a ready issue for printing because of “a list of persons” whose names the newspaper’s founder had banned for mention in the press. In June 2008 an investigator of the Kirovsky District police department in Makhachkala launched legal proceedings against R. Rizvanov under Article 144 of the RF Criminal Code (“Interference with journalists’ lawful professional activities”), but the Kirovsky District court canceled that decision as unlawful and its action was approved by the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Dagestan. Finally, as announced recently, the Criminal Law College of Judges of the RF Supreme Court canceled the district court passed in Makhachkala freezing the institution of criminal proceedings against R. Rizvanov.

The journalists’ conflict with Rizvanov, alternately fueled by either party, has been given extensive media coverage. When NV was founded, it became a powerful lure for Dagestani reporters for a banal reason – money. A whole team of staffers, including the maker-up, had come from another Dagestani newspaper, Novoye Delo, to agree on very simple terms and conditions: the journalists would do their best to develop and strengthen the new newspaper for the following three years without the founder ever meddling in their professional activities.

Evidently, something went wrong and NV did not stand up to the founder’s expectations. Who is to blame for that? Maybe, both parties: the founder failed to bring his ideas home to the staffers and the latter must have found it difficult to understand what he actually wanted.

Whatever the reasons, a well-financed newspaper ended up as “an ordinary pro-federal one”, according to journalists in Dagestan. No one was willing to “do anything rash” – evidently, because another prominent newspaper, Chernovik, was known to be up to its ears in court litigations. Finally, the management invited R. Rizvanov and he went out of his way to do at least something to change the situation.

That is when the notorious blacklist was compiled, featuring the names of people who were not to be mentioned in the newspaper. Time and again, the journalists would be shocked to see serious corrections in issues already signed and sent away for printing. They demanded that this censorship be canceled; Rizvanov, in his turn, demanded that they respect the interests of the money-paying party.

It would seem both sides were right in their own way. But then, there is the Media Law and there are journalistic ethics. But then again, there are federal and regional television channels, like one private network in Ryazan which shows reports from local Duma meetings in different versions every hour: its founder is in the habit of checking the video sequences and demanding that one or another deputy’s face be clipped out. There is a blacklist there, too, prescribing whom to talk to before the TV camera and whom to forget once and for all. But the local journalists have never protested: they once accepted the rules of the game and believe they need to show endurance.

With censorship absolutely unacceptable as a conflict-settling instrument, the NV scandal, although very unpleasant in itself, nevertheless indicates that going to court is not so bad or hopeless: in other regions, where the censorship situation is even worse, there have been no trials held or legal claims filed at all…



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.


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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