Дайджест
11 Июня 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 481

TOPIC OF THE WEEK
New media bill proposed by United Russia party

EVENT OF THE WEEK
Action in defense of Article 31 of RF Constitution

RUSSIA
1. Sverdlovsk Region. Journalists barred from news conference
2. Republic of Khakassia. Press tour for insiders
3. Arkhangelsk. Why newspapers are not trusted

WORLD NEWS
UNHRC calls for all attacks on journalists to be investigated

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in May 2010

OUR PUBLICATIONS
“Making a Kalashnikov”, Trans-Baikal-style
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TOPIC OF THE WEEK

New media bill proposed by United Russia party

The RF State Duma is discussing a new bill proposed by the United Russia party (URP) faction – “On Protecting Children from Information Hazardous to Their Health and Development”. The faction leaders already recommended passing it after the second reading May 31.

At first glance, the bill looks good enough, directed against pornography, obscene language, drugs, alcohol and smoking, and prepared with due regard for the latest international experience. It calls for banning in the daytime any TV shows “that may frighten or horrify children or cause them to feel panicky”. The reference is to the show of accidents, catastrophes, diseases or deaths. Any print materials on these subjects should be wrapped up prior to sale.

Naturally, the bill’s authors maintain that any talk of restrictions on access to information is irrelevant because the document “aims at protecting the children in the first place”, according to URP member Robert Schlegel, notorious for his prior career with the semi-pornographic youth magazine Molotok that many parents found hair-raising.

If passed, the bill would result in people’s having to watch the news and most films at night only, and in almost all the newspapers and magazines having to be wrapped up in plastic, which is impossible. Or else the press and television would have to avoid publishing any information about accidents, catastrophes and deaths. As a result, TV may turn into one big entertainment show and the press into something like Korea Today magazine that used to praise President Kim Il Sung to the skies.

Many observers have criticized the URP initiative. GDF President Alexei Simonov, for one, sees it as yet another attempt by the authorities to close some TV networks and print media for minor omissions while supporting other media, more manageable and less scrupulous. “Clearly, they are seeking to suppress the rest of the willpower of the head-managers of media outlets disfavored by the Kremlin. Violence makes its way into art and the media from the street, from everyday life – not vice versa. Society is such as it is reflected. Therefore, the gentlemen from United Russia, who claim to be so much concerned about the future of the younger generation, may as well get busy imposing bans on negative things that children see in the street. For example, they should look at how the police, patrol teams and all the punitive system as a whole perform. Otherwise, children will continue to see violence in real life while watching glossed-over TV reports about everything being nice and smooth; that will cause them to ask some very natural questions and stop trusting the media altogether,” A. Simonov said.
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EVENT OF THE WEEK

Action in defense of Article 31 of RF Constitution

Regular actions in defense of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution were held in Moscow and other cities May 31. As before, the police detained activists along with reporters and ordinary onlookers – and this despite the presence of Vladimir Lukin and Alexander Muzykantsky, the human rights ombudsmen for Russia and Moscow.

Reporters were detained regardless of their journalistic IDs or badges. Among the detainees were Alexander Podrabinek of Radio France Internationale; Yevgenia Albats, editor-in-chief of The New Times; Anatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief of the news website Forum.msk.ru; and Vera Kichanova, a Novaya Gazeta reporter.

“The police behaved rudely. The picture was the same everywhere: receiving a command, several OMON [special police force] officers would dash towards a person, grab him by the arms and legs, and drag him towards the police bus. Among them there were many journalists, people with Betacam cameras in hand, whom we could clearly see from the porch of the Tchaikovsky Theater,” Radio France Internationale cited A. Podrabinek as saying.

Some journalists were lucky. As soon as Y. Albats started reporting on the phone about what was going on in Triumfalnaya Square, she was let out of the police bus. Others had problems, as Moskovsky Komsomolets reporter Boris Zolotoryov who asked an OMON officer to release an 84-year-old veteran of World War II. The journalist himself was detained, and it was only due to the help of people around that he could tear away from the policeman’s “embrace”. “To their merit, the officers did not beat me at the time – they gave me a kick later, while ramming detainees into the bus,” B. Zolotoryov said.

Alexander Artemyev of the web newspaper Gazeta.ru had his arm broken during the detention and will spend a few days in hospital. RIA Novosti editor-in-chief Svetlana Mironyuk, who is also the chairperson of the Moscow Police Department’s Public Council, described the incident with Artemyev as “outrageous” and promised to discuss it at the next Council sitting. The victim intends to get the prosecutor’s office involved in the investigation. Meanwhile, the police have said they did not touch Artemyev and that he had got the trauma before he was brought to the police station. This indicates that testimony by eyewitnesses from the number of detainees will hardly help in bringing those responsible to justice.
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RUSSIA

1. Sverdlovsk Region. Journalists barred from news conference

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

“Unwanted” media reporters were barred from attending a news conference in Yekaterinburg that summed up the results of the 28th session of the CIS heads of security and other secret services.

Having duly announced the event, the organizers then thought better of it and made a list of the media whose reporters would be admitted to the governor’s residence where the conference was to be held. Specifically, an Uralsky Rabochiy correspondent was asked whether he had called the Press Department. “Did I have to? No one said anything about accreditation,” the reporter said wondering why the guards were not letting him through. “We don’t know – you are not on the list!” they replied.

This list-making practice, unfortunately, has been growing ever more widespread in the region.  As a result, some journalists are not admitted to open news conferences, and no one knows who is to blame for that.


2. Republic of Khakassia. Press tour for insiders

By Mikhail Afanasyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Most Khakassian media found themselves uninvited to participate in the press tour to the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant where a spillway dam was launched at a ceremony on June 1. The event was covered only by the government media – the newspapers Khakasiya and Khabar and the news agency Khakas-Inform. The group of outsiders included the highest-rating republican media, among them the Khakasiya news agency, the newspaper Shans and the TV-7 television network.

When the Khakasiya agency called Irina Yemelyanova, head of the government’s Information Analysis Department, to ask what had happened, she said her department “has nothing at all to do” with the local media’s accreditation. According to her, this issue was handled by the press services of OAO RusGidro and the RF government.

But Alexei Dubovetsk, the hydropower plant press spokesman, said in his turn that the list of accredited journalists had been made by the government of Khakassia’s press service. This was confirmed also by RusGidro press spokesperson Elena Vishnyakova.


3. Arkhangelsk. Why newspapers are not trusted

By Tamara Ovchinnikova,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

A round table in Arkhangelsk, co-sponsored by the regional N. Dobrolyubov Science Literature Library and Russian State Press University, has discussed the issue of public trust of the media. Mediator Yevgeny Bakhanov, director of the Institute of the Modern Press Market, challenged reporters to take on the responsibility for people’s mistrust of the newspapers. But journalists disagreed. For example, Valentin Ivanov said that “many other news sources have appeared, such as web publications, which respond to various events much faster than the print media and enjoy a fairly high degree of trust”.

An exchange of views followed on why the level of people’s trust of media-published information is steadily declining and what needs to be done to restore it.

“Journalists themselves are to blame,” Yevgeny Bakhanov said. “At the beginning of perestroika the newspapers decided that advertisers were more important to them than the readers. So we sold the newspapers, sold our journalistic ethics, and betrayed our readers and our profession.”

Among other reasons participants mentioned imperfection of the Russian laws regulating relations between media founders and journalists, and the declining level of journalistic professionalism.

Vladimir Fedorenko, a secretary of the regional Communist party committee who attended the round table, commented: “I was very much surprised by the Moscow guest’s suggestion that the reasons for lack of trust in the media should be sought within the journalistic community itself. Let me remind you that twenty years ago the newspapers did not start earning money of their own free will; they were forced to survive in a country plunged by its rulers into wild capitalism. Considering that the state today is often the main media owner, it is quite logical that editors pursue a policy of serving the authorities and turning journalists into obedient ‘state order’ executors. I think mistrust of the media is rooted in the lack of interest on the part of the bureaucrats at all levels in having the newspapers provide comprehensive and unbiased coverage of what is going on in society.”
 
Significantly enough, the round table was not attended by a single government official.
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WORLD NEWS

UNHRC calls for all attacks on journalists to be investigated

Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, reported on the work done to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) June 3.

According to him, the number of journalists killed while performing their professional duty grew by 26 percent in 2009 against the previous year; most of them were investigating suspected cases of corruption, organized crime and political machinations.

The ever more widespread practice of reporters’ abduction caused at least 157 journalists to flee their home countries in search of shelter abroad, the special rapporteur said.

He expressed concern over the fact that the vast majority of the perpetrators escaped punishment, and in only 2 percent of the cases were they tried and convicted. He called on all countries, primarily on the Philippines, Iraq, Pakistan, the Russian Federation and Mexico, which account for the largest number of reporters’ killings, to take steps to protect and ensure the physical integrity of media workers.

The special rapporteur made reference to Resolution 1739 of the U. N. Security Council requiring all nations to comprehensively investigate each attack on journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice.

[UN Radio report, June 3]
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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in May 2010

Death of journalists – 2 (Shamil Aliyev, founder and director, radio stations Priboi and Vatan, Makhachkala; Said Ibragimov, director, TBS network, Dagestan).

Attacks on journalists – 8 (Pavel Netupsky, reporter, web newspaper Fontanka.ru, St. Petersburg; Yevgeny Nesyn, freelance correspondent, newspaper Sovetsky Sport, and Roman Kosarev, correspondent, Russia Today TV company, both attacked in Rostov-on-Don; Mark Minin, director, Vosmoi Den TV company, Tomsk; Viktor Tarasov, owner and authors of Voskresensk.ru web portal, Moscow Region; Ivan Lyakh, freelance reporter for newspaper Territoriya Zakona, Murmansk; Alexander Leonenko, special reporter, Novoye Televideniye Kubani, Krasnodar; Alexander Artemyev, reporter, Gazeta.ru, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 5 (Galina Yartseva, editor, newspaper Russkiy Karavan, Novgorod; Alexei Salov, freelance journalist, Vladimir; Sergey Mikhailov, founder and editor, newspaper Listok, Altai Republic – two cases; Mikhail Vyugin, reporter, Ura.ru news agency, Yekaterinburg).

Unlawful sacking of journalist/editor – 3 (Vsevolod Pimenov, editor-in-chief, and Maria Kidyayeva, correspondent, newspaper Abakan, Khakassia; Anastasia Tikhomirova, editor-in-chief, STV Channel, Leningrad Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 13 (Alexei Salov, freelance journalist, Vladimir; Dmitry Kovshov, editor, newspaper Panorama Molodyozhnaya, Nizhny Novgorod Region; Vyacheslav Potapov, editor-in-chief, Sovetskaya Kuban TV show, Krasnodar; crew of reporters for Kuban State TV/Radio Company, Krasnodar; Yulia Bashinova and Veniamin Dmitroshkin, reporters, Grani.ru and Grani-TV, Moscow; Alexander Kulygin, Radio Liberty correspondent, Kemerovo Region; Galina Dmitriyeva, freelance reporter, newspaper Gorod Na Volge, Samara Region; Alexander Artemyev, reporter, Gazeta.ru, Moscow; Alexander Podrabinek, Radio France Internationale correspondent, Moscow; Yevgenia Albats, editor-in-chief, The New Times, Moscow; Anatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief, Forum.msk.ru, Moscow; Vera Kichanova, reporter, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 23, worth a total of RUR 123,660,003. 

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.) – 16.

Threats against journalists and media – 2 (Pavel Netupsky, correspondent, web newspaper Fontanka.ru, St. Petersburg; Viktor Shenderovich, freelance journalist, Moscow).

Refusal to print/distribute media – 4 (newspaper Buzulukskiye Novosti, Orenburg Region; newspaper Sovetsky Kuzbass, Kemerovo; newspaper Pravda Severa, Arkhangelsk – twice).

Disruption of TV or radio broadcasts – 1 (Podmoskovye TV channel, Moscow Region).

Closure of media outlets – 1 (newspaper Inaya Gorodskaya Gazeta, Perm Region).

Confiscation, purchase or arrest of print run – 1 (newspaper Sovetsky Kuzbass, Kemerovo).

Interference with Internet publications – 3 (web portal of newspaper Moi Rayon; websites Zaks.ru and Vkontakte.ru).

Confiscation of, or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 5 (office computers of newspaper Listok and personal computers of Sergey Mikhailov, the founder and editor of that newspapers, Gorno-Altaisk, Altai Republic; video camera of Sovetskaya Kuban TV show, Krasnodar; cell phone of Roman Kosarev, correspondent of Russia Today television company, in Rostov-on-Don; camera of REN-TV channel, Moscow Region).

Other forms of pressure and infringement of journalists’ rights – 31.

***

Last week, the Glasnost Defense Foundation was referred to at least 15 times in the Internet, including at:

http://www.newizv.ru/news/2010-06-04/127599/
http://www.fontanka.ru/2010/06/01/104/
http://www.civitas.ru/news.php?code=9164
http://www.moscow-post.ru/politics/001275869179544/
http://media-day.ru/mixed/3434/
http://www.lenta.cjes.ru/?m=6&y=2010&lang=rus&nid=7149
http://www.dddkursk.ru/number/816/new/006788/
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6206
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6203
http://www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=4C075355F36B0
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OUR PUBLICATIONS

“Making a Kalashnikov”, Trans-Baikal-style

By Marina Meteleva,
GDF staff correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Half of the Trans-Baikal Region’s Public Chamber – 21 members representing different public associations – were elected May 28. The other half – nominees of the Legislative Assembly and Municipal Council – were to be proposed by the governor for election ten days later.

The election was calm and quiet, with the list of nominees discussed and coordinated in advance. “It was anything but a pleasure to participate in that farce,” conference participants said. “Although all formalities were outwardly observed, people kept calling our public organization almost every day to ‘coordinate’ for whom we should necessarily vote. We had a call even from the local branch of United Russia to make sure we ‘understand things correctly’. Judging by the returns, the Chamber members were elected in full accordance with the approved list.”

The law on the Public Chamber was passed by the Legislative Assembly on February 17 this year. The regional administration convened the initial, organizing, conference attended by representatives of well checked and loyal NGOs – the usual participants of protocol meetings between authorities and the public. Those activists produced a governor-approved list of members of the organizing committee to prepare the election conference, and encouraged everybody to vote for it. Over the following month, gearing every administrative and personal resource at their disposal, they “coordinated” the list of delegates to the subsequent, electing, conference. They urged, persuaded, gave promises; they actively recommended self-nomination: “Why shilly-shally? Only fools sit on their hands. Any talk of ‘conscience’ is irrelevant. Watch the authorities closely and claim a bit of power for yourselves.”

As a result, the May 28 conference brought together representatives of all the 160 (of the region’s several hundred) public associations which had nominated their candidates. The returning board worked openly, and the outcome of the election was quite predictable. Naturally, among the 21 members elected there were truly respectable people, like Nina Okuneva (nominated by the trade union of education and science workers), Dolson Zhalsanova (nominated by a public association of Buryats living outside the autonomous territories), or Vitaly Vishnyakov (nominated by the Chita-based public association of war veterans, pensioners and retired law enforcement officers). Each collected over 70 votes. But there were some surprises, too. For example, it was not clear why Sila Golovaty, an undergraduate student of Trans-Baikal Pedagogical University, was on the candidates’ list. The board of the local branch of the RF Journalists’ Union had never nominated or recommended him, although the organizing committee files featured an excerpt from the “protocol of the meeting” at which his candidacy had allegedly been discussed. The strangest thing was that the budding journalist who had not distinguished himself by work in the regional people’s interests did gather the threshold number of votes to become a Public Chamber member.

Galina Kamanina, president of the Chita TV/Radio Company and former chairperson of the regional Journalists’ Union, commented:

“That was an unpleasant surprise to us board members. We’ll find out where that protocol comes from, and make sure it is annulled. There are many respected journalists in the region, who deserve being Chamber members; Golovaty is not one of them.”

As an amusing coincidence, shortly before the election the local daily Zabaikalsky Rabochiy featured an interview with Governor Ravil Geniatulin who spelt out what he expects of the new structure. The interview was signed by S. Golovaty.

So why should the authorities bother to control the regional Public Chamber’s election as closely and subtly as they did? Judging by an excerpt from the governor’s interview, creating this kind of organization is absolutely essential: “You see, building civil society is impossible without a Public Chamber! We want to involve representatives of different public associations in running the region, and thereby, the entire country. Could it possibly put brakes on the work of executive government? I see no particular problems with that. Let me remind you that under the law the Chamber’s decisions are recommendatory, after all. Besides, I have looked through the preliminary lists of candidates (because the people who would like to become Chamber members and who have been nominated by public associations are already known) and found some familiar names – people frequently seen on the streets and squares of our city back in the early 1990s. I am positive we will be able to find compromise decisions. Fears that the administrative wing may exert pressure are groundless. I hope the Chamber will perform as a good partner of the government and society.”

“You see the way things are done in this country? Government initiatives are actively supported, whereas those at the grass roots are always a problem,” commented Vladimir Vagner, an experienced lawyer and head of a charity organization. “A few years ago we proposed a totally different scheme – to have public bodies formed in each village, then in each municipal district, and all the way up to regional level. That would indeed guarantee public participation in government decision-making at all levels. In line with the current pattern, the elected 21 public activists and the 21 representatives of two branches of power who are yet to be elected are all guys from one and the same team. The ordinary people’s opinion is not asked at all: ‘Sorry, the candidates’ lists are fully coordinated.’”

In Soviet times, there was a popular joke about our national industry: “Whatever they may set out to produce, they will get a Kalashnikov in the end.” What we see today is that public institutions, conceived as instruments of public control over the authorities, are slowly but surely turning into government administration bodies.
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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 Yefremov – 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