Дайджест
24 Июня 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 482-483

TOPIC OF THE WEEK
Ruling on preliminary editing of web forum content suspended

EVENT OF THE WEEK
IFJ report published

RUSSIA
1. Krasnodar Region. Reporter barred from District Assembly sitting
2. Republic of Khakassia. Flag-related dispute                                             
3. Republic of Tatarstan. Double-standard treatment of media                                   
4. Yaroslavl Region. Disrespect for readers of morning newspapers
5. Chelyabinsk Region. House of Journalists inaugurated
6. Samara Region. Popular newspaper falls into disfavor
7. Republic of Karelia. Administration official awarded RUR 60,000 in moral damage compensation
8. Perm Region. Municipal officials frown at newspaper
9. Perm Region. Editor’s house burnt down: arson suspected                
10. Republic of Karelia. Judge reprimanded for hampering journalist’s work

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
Some statistics cited

OUR PUBLICATIONS
1. Signals about lack of media freedom must be audible
2. Ex-editor’s appeal to fellow journalists 

OUR PARTNERS
1. Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations greets GDF
2. RF Journalists’ Union greets GDF
________________

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Ruling on preliminary editing of web forum content suspended

The news about a plenary meeting of the RF Supreme Court that was due to pass a decision on the rules of applying the Media Law provisions so that Internet publications would be held liable for failure to edit the content of comments left by their readers on chat forums caused heated debates in the media community.

Some voiced fears that web administrators might be required to look through the readers’ comments prior to posting in order to edit out anything that the supervisory and controlling bodies might deem to be extremist statements. But, in the first place, that would be a time-consuming and tedious job, and secondly, preliminary editing would clearly amount to censorship. “Preliminary editing, i.e., scanning comments and filtering them prior to publishing is a very dangerous practice. Censorship is censorship, whatever alternative names you may try to find for it,” Alexei Simonov, president of the Glasnost Defense Foundation, warned.

As far as post factum editing is concerned, there are problems with that, too. Should web publication staffers be required to scan comments for suspicious statements with a view to editing these out, ill-wishers would always be quicker to find “extremist” postings and report them to the controlling agencies, leaving the “guilty” web portals unprotected and legally answerable.

Originally, complaints about “wrong” chat forum publications were supposed to be filed by RosKomNadzor [the federal service overseeing the sphere of public communications], the prosecutor’s office, as well as private persons. But that gave rise to suggestions that the controlling bodies might start acting “selectively, exposing opposition media outlets to much more serious problems than loyal ones face”, according to A. Simonov. The GDF president also said that “RosKomNadzor could well focus on real law violations – that’s a normal approach.” This view was supported by Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the RF Journalists’ Union: “Coming across an extremist statement posted on a website, RosKomNadzor should alert the editor concerned and ask him to take a closer look. The editor then would have to edit the relevant statement or remove it from the chat forum altogether. Given no contradiction between what is required under the law and what is written on a web forum, the editor could not possibly be held liable.”

It seems the authorities took heed. First, the members of the working group drafting the Supreme Court decision agreed that preliminary editing of web forum comments would not be required. But should an extremist comment be posted, RosKomNadzor – the sole organization monitoring the web forum content – would require that posting to be removed, which means post factum editing would be practised, after all. And finally, on June 15, the final edition of the Supreme Court decision was passed making it clear that the online media would not be held liable for the content of readers’ comments unless these were not protested by RosKomNadzor.
 
It looks like preliminary editing has been canceled in the long run. For how long, one may wonder…
_________________

EVENT OF THE WEEK

IFJ report published

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has published its report “End of a Deadly Decade: Journalists and Media Workers Killed in 2009”.

The authors note that the journalist’s profession remains a most hazardous one: of a total of 139 deaths, about 113 were deliberate killings. Reporters continue to be murdered by hooligans, soldiers, religious extremists and political gangsters seeking to hide their dirty secrets from public attention. The report specially highlights the Philippines where 32 media workers were killed in a single massacre.

According to the IFJ, 13 journalists died in Africa, 30 in Latin America, 52 in Asia and the Pacific, and 9 in the Middle East. In Europe, “the shadow of impunity” fell on Russia and many neighboring countries that saw 9 deliberate killings of reporters, including 6 in Russia alone, said European Federation of Journalists president Arne Koenig.

Attached to the report is a database (http://journalists-in-russia.org ) that details and classifies each death. It will be a meaningful new instrument providing reliable and regularly updated information about new fatal incidents. The database is a result of unique cooperation between the IFJ and two Russian organizations monitoring violations of journalists’ and media rights – the Glasnost Defense Foundation and the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, the report says.

The IFJ intends to expand coverage of conflicts involving pressure on journalists. Its database will include information about attacks on reporters (which, according to the authors, is often a more sensitive indicator of the level of violence that the list of those killed), legal claims against media workers, instances of censorship and journalists’ detention by the force agencies. The GDF and CJES will be the IFJ’s partners in implementing the project.
___________________

RUSSIA

1. Krasnodar Region. Reporter barred from District Assembly sitting

By Victoria Tashmatova,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

In the Central District of Sochi June 7, local parliamentary leader Gennady Glazyrin called a meeting of District Assembly deputies to discuss the construction of an express highway along Kurortny Avenue and reconstruction of Donskaya Street. When Svetlana Kravchenko, a reporter for the newspaper Chernomorskaya Zdravnitsa, volunteered to attend the meeting, a video camera in hand and showing her journalistic ID, they almost instantly showed her the door.

First, she was rudely told to leave because she had not been invited. She began to explain that she had an editorial assignment to cover the event and that she was performing her professional duty. But the deputies told her it was a closed meeting.

“I warned them they were breaching the law by hampering a journalist’s professional activity, a practice punishable under Article 144 of the RF Penal Code, but Mr. Glazyrin said he had not read that article. Finally, they pushed me out into the street not allowing me to fulfill the editor’s assignment. It was not by chance that I came to attend the meeting: we had received an angry letter from local residents who complained about the unlawful construction of a third stretch of the express highway in violation of the local community’s rights and endangering the ecological safety of the residential area Gagarinsky: in the process, the building workers have been felling 50-year-old sycamore trees and no one had bothered to relocate a local water conduit and a high-voltage power transmission line prior to the project commencement, threatening to leave the community without water supply, heating and electricity as a result of the unlawful construction,” S. Kravchenko said.

She also told the GDF correspondent that reporters are frequently barred from attending different public events in Sochi: “The deputies call a meeting and invite ‘loyal’ journalists while keeping independent press reporters at arm’s length – because they are afraid we will tell the truth instead of publishing the kind of information the deputies would prefer to see published.”


2. Republic of Khakassia. Flag-related dispute                                             

A strange conflict over whether or not one is allowed to use the image of Khakassia’s flag has remained unsettled.

Back on May 23, the city of Abakan’s Acting Prosecutor Anatoly Todinov instituted administrative proceedings against Mikhail Afanasyev, editor of the web magazine Novy Fokus, on charges of his featuring the republic’s flag on the home page of his website.

The prosecutor made reference to Article 109 of Khakassia’s Administrative Code prohibiting “the use of state symbols of the Republic of Khakassia without official authorization or in violation of the established rules”.

“The image of the flag has been on the Novy Fokus website ever since it was opened over five years ago, and no one ever thought of holding me liable for its use. Now the prosecutor’s office has suddenly decided featuring the flag is against the law,” M. Afanasyev said.

“Whenever I pin a badge featuring the republic’s flag onto my shirt, do I commit an administrative offense? Or if I walk along the street, Khakassia’s flag in hand, is that against the law, too? Does it mean I have no right at all to touch the flag of the republic where I have lived for the past 29 years?” the editor said. He sees the institution of administrative proceedings as an attempt to further the persecution campaign launched against him following a series of critical publications in Novy Fokus.


3. Republic of Tatarstan. Double-standard treatment of media                                   

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

On June 9 Rafis Kashapov, president of the Tatar Public Center, sent an appeal to Marat Muratov, head of the republic’s TatMedia Agency for the Press and Public Communications, to inform him of the deplorable situation in which the Tatar press is finding itself, subjected to censorship and criminal prosecution. “This government attitude towards media workers cannot but be a source of concern,” the message said.

“We are aware that the Tatar media cannot afford having their own offices the world over. Therefore, coverage of Tatars’ affairs in the republican press is insufficient, and of those living outside Tatarstan is still worse,” R. Kahapov wrote.

He drew the TatMedia head’s attention to the fact that the Tatar-language newspaper Shekhri Chally in Naberezhniye Chelny has been left without government financing, whereas the Russian-language newspaper Chelninskiye Izvestia has retained it in full. “That is one more example of how the Tatar people’s rights are infringed as a result of this double-standard treatment of the press. We want Shekhri Chally to continue receiving full-scale financing as before,” the message said.


4. Yaroslavl Region. Disrespect for readers of morning newspapers

By Victoria Kobets,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

The newspaper Zolotoye Koltso recently featured an article by Maria Teplova who complained that Saturday issues of local morning newspapers in Yaroslavl can only be purchased in the retail network towards the evening, when RosPechat [monopoly-holding press distributor] traders have already had the Moscow press delivered to their kiosks; this system is claimed to be more convenient and profitable to them.

People in the regional center Yaroslavl are by no means happy to see this novelty introduced – the less so residents of the provincial town of Tutayev where Saturday press deliveries have been dropped altogether. Regional newspaper numbers can only be purchased on Monday morning, compelling people to buy other newspapers instead of their favorite ones or not buy anything at all – who cares for last week’s news? – and this despite the fact that editors have sought to make Saturday issues the most informative and attractive to people in different walks of life.

These “quiet signs of decay” are even more frustrating than scandals with broad repercussions. They indicate that both the readers and the media are growing ever less interested in life, and are pinning the blame on each other. This might be called a suicidal approach to things if ZK’s M. Teplova did not highlight an important detail: the press distributors do not attempt to do at least their part of the job with due quality – why bother if Russian businesses generally do not feel responsible to the people who order their services? This is absolutely true in the case of RosPechat. In the west, this kind of attitude to the client would trigger a nationwide scandal because of showing businessmen’s utter disrespect for huge numbers of people for no reason at all. The new system is “more convenient,” the traders are claiming – and adding: “If selling the newspapers turns out to be unprofitable, we may as well start using the press kiosks for selling, say, potatoes.” By the way, they already sell there a variety of items, like toys, stationery, soap and other unrelated things – instead of trying to popularize their regional press featuring the daily news, not only earning as much as they can on glossy magazines… Besides, they charge additional fees for shelf facing: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, as applied to large shopping malls engaging in retail trade. But they totally forget that the path to the newspaper stalls was beaten by the readers of the periodical press in the first place. The same kind of disrespect is shown even by partners whose businesses are extensively advertised in the daily and weekly newspapers.


5. Chelyabinsk Region. House of Journalists inaugurated

By Irina Gundareva,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

The journalistic community in the South Urals has finally got a residence of its own – the House of Journalists at 100, Krasnoarmeiskaya St. in Chelyabinsk.

“Residence”, though, is too bombastic a word. The wooden building, a monument of 19th-century architecture offered to the journalists for lease by the former governor, Pyotr Sumin, was in a really deplorable state, with plasterwork coming off the walls because of a leaking hot water pipeline, etc. The house had to be urgently repaired. Foreign companies were first to heed appeals for help by Vladislav Pisanov, leader of the regional branch of the RF Journalists’ Union.

“The Finnish company ‘Fortum’ and German ‘Knauf’ responded very quickly; then the local Tractor-Building Plant joined in. ‘Many a little makes a mickle,’ as the old saying goes. After several community work days, with the help of volunteers, we managed to bring the place in order,” Pisanov said.

With some finishing touches still pending, the JU management has already moved in, and some curious reporters are asking, half-jokingly, half-seriously, whether there will be a bar to gulp down a drink or two. Pisanov is not promising a bar but has already announced there will be a labor exchange for journalists who are suffering from the financial crisis just as the rest of the nation.


6. Samara Region. Popular newspaper falls into disfavor

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The weekly Khronograf issued in Togliatti and having its correspondent offices in Samara, Syzran and Novokuibyshevsk has fallen into disfavor with municipal administrators across the Samara Region. The newspaper has earned quite a reputation with the readers over the past five years: sharp-tongued, highly critical and uncompromisingly objective, it has come to face problems with reporters’ accreditation and getting access to official information.

The city Duma in Novokuibyshevsk, for example, recently barred the weekly’s reporters from one of its recent sittings that it claimed to be “secret”. Asked to explain why, the Duma leaders said they are entitled under the charter to hold closed meetings because they are not part of the local self-government structure. Stavropolsky District head Alexander Puchkov has notified Khronograf in writing that his municipality is “not interested” in cooperation with the weekly, and added that his administration has never adopted any rules of journalists’ accreditation. In Syzran, the city administration has ceased answering Khnorograf’s inquiries while not officially declining to provide information. It tried hard to make its improper behavior look as “lawful” as possible, demanding that a journalist present documents confirming his authority – as if his journalistic ID was not enough for the purpose. The Architecture and Construction Department in Samara went still farther by refusing to accept or register the weekly’s inquiries – as the staffers see it, because of the department leadership’s purely subjective and biased attitude to their newspaper.

In his appeal to the public, Khronograf editor Pavel Sokolov wrote: “As we see, Samara authorities have not only been breaching effective legislation by hampering reporters’ work but also undermining the foundations of democracy and deliberately infringing the people’s right to be informed.”


7. Republic of Karelia. Administration official awarded RUR 60,000 in moral damage compensation

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

Lyudmila Kosyuk, the head of Karelia’s administration’s chief of staff, has been awarded RUR 60,000 in moral damage compensation payable by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets v Karelii (MKK) and one of its authors.

She filed her legal claim following an MKK publication criticizing Kosyuk for her fairly free manner of handling administration property and also recalling her unseemly behavior back in Soviet times, during her tenure as a high school principal in Petrozavodsk. According to one of the cooks, the cafeteria supplied the school management – free of charge – with paper bags containing tea, sugar, sausages and other products that were otherwise actually inaccessible at a time of total food deficit. The cook did not insist that the principal had personally collected those food bags, and the author only said the bags had been handed over to “the right people” without directly mentioning the plaintiff’s name.

The judge decided that the newspaper failed to prove the accuracy of the information it had published and required it to refute the disputed passage as well as pay L. Kosyuk RUR 50,000 (instead of the claimed amount of RUR 300,000), and the author to pay her RUR 10,000 (slashed from the originally claimed sum of RUR 200,000) in moral damage compensation. The defendants intend to challenge the ruling before a higher-standing judicial authority.


8. Perm Region. Municipal officials frown at newspaper

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

After the newspaper Vperyod released in the township of Oktyabrsky, Perm Region, published data about municipal officials’ earnings (duly citing the original source – a website open to any PC user), the persons concerned lodged a legal claim with the prosecutor’s office insisting that the reprinting action was unlawful and that the journalists should have first filed an official inquiry, waited for a reply, and then acted according to administrative recommendations.

Among those particularly angry with the publication was T. Vinokurova, chair of the local Auditing Committee, who earned over RUR 1.5 million last year – significantly more than the district administration head or his deputies.

It is unclear why the municipal officials did not have any claims to the official website that published the same information – unlike a newspaper with a circulation of 5,550. Are they hoping the website is known to only a few PC users?


9. Perm Region. Editor’s house burnt down: arson suspected                

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The house of Alevtina Kineva, editor of the newspaper Sysvenskiye Zori issued in the village of Ust-Kishert, Perm Region, has been burnt down completely, with no property rescued by the fire brigade that arrived an hour after they were called.

The house caught fire at 5:30 a.m., when everybody was asleep. The Kinevs maintain it was arson: any newspaper editor has many opponents and ill-wishers. The host, Nikolai Kinev, a well known writer and journalist who works in the same newspaper, had his birthday that day, receiving so horrifying a “gift”. The police have launched an investigation.

For the time being, the Kinevs live with Alevtina’s brother, relying on friends and authorities for help in solving their housing problem. Journalists across the Perm Region have already raised RUR 60,000 in relief assistance.


10. Republic of Karelia. Judge reprimanded for hampering journalist’s work

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

The Qualifying Collegium of Karelia’s Supreme Court has sanctioned a judge for interfering with a reporter’s work. Last March, Judge E. Stepanova broke the law by ousting a journalist from the courtroom for using a tape recorder, and by requiring him to erase the recording.

After the incident was investigated, the head of Karelia’s Journalists’ Union received an official reply which we are publishing here in the hope that not only fellow journalists but also judges will read it:

“Dear Mr. Tsygankov:

“Your April 5th complaint to the Supreme Court of Karelia about [the allegedly wrongful actions] of Judge E. I. Stepanova of the City Court of Petrozavodsk while considering a civil claim lodged by S. S. Mikhailov against the republican newspapers Moskovsky Komsomolets v Karelii and Karelskaya Guberniya in defense of his honor and dignity has been considered.

“The facts cited in the complaint were checked, resulting in Judge Stepanova’s officially reprimanded by the Qualifying Collegium of the Supreme Court on June 9, 2010 for breaching the law while administering justice in a manner undermining the national judiciary’s authority.

“Sincerely,
B. K. Taratunin,
Chairman, Supreme Court of Karelia

“June 15, 2010”
__________________

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

Some statistics cited

Last week, the Glasnost Defense Foundation was referred to at least 20 times in the Internet, including at:

http://www.ifj.org/assets/docs/059/046/c93b13b-7a4a82e.pdf
http://www.ifex.org/russia/2010/06/15/new_bill/
http://slon.ru/blogs/m_melnikov/post/403654/
http://www.vz.ru/society/2010/6/15/410685.html
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6211
http://www.civitas.ru/news.php?code=9197
http://www.gazetanv.ru/archive/article/?id=6212
http://ismi.ru/vsg/index.php?IDE=10380
http://www.pressing.spb.ru/1/82410/
http://i38.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1661&Itemid=5
http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/170249/
http://www.respublika-kaz.info/news/politics/9402
http://www.specletter.com/svoboda-slova/2010-06-09/byt-ili-ne-byt-tsenzure-v-internete.html
________________

OUR PUBLICATIONS

1. Signals about lack of media freedom must be audible

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

The recently published Glasnost Map has become the subject of a dialogue between the GDF correspondent and Dmitry Polyanin, head of the Sverdlovsk branch of the RF Journalists’ Union.

Corr.: The Sverdlovsk Region was again, just as in the three previous editions of the Glasnost Map, defined as a territory where the media are “relatively free”. Do you agree?

D. P.: As compared to other regions, yes, I do. But I would refrain from describing our situation as ideal. Freedom, in the first place, is how a journalist feels about performing his public mission. What kind of freedom is it when almost any reporter thinks it necessary to coordinate his or her stories with people other than the editor?

Besides, the pattern of government-media relations has been changing. In the past, the regional media felt free to openly criticize poorly performing administrators, because former Governor Eduard Rossel repeatedly said he would not sue journalists for criticism. Lower-standing officials behaved accordingly. But the newly appointed governor, A. Misharin, who was not elected but appointed, is in many aspects not a public personality and builds his relations with the press differently.

Corr.: There have been reports about changes to the system of accreditation: earlier, you only had to give notice; today you need to apply for authorization, which means that “inconvenient”, critically-minded reporters may be barred from attending a public event.

D. P.: Also, there are budget-related problems. Until recently, municipal and district media would receive newsprint as a measure of at least some government support. Loyalty or disloyalty did not matter – where there were several newspapers in a district, newsprint was distributed among them equitably. That guaranteed at least some editorial independence from local administrators because newsprint costs amounted to almost a third of all expenses. Now that the state support system has been scrapped, the regional authorities are telling everyone: “Survive all on your own!” Hence, dependence on, and increasing pressure from, the municipalities. It is not accidental that after the elections several editors were dismissed and replaced with loyal appointees who feel pretty comfortable receiving financial injections.

Corr.: But the media community is still alive, as shown, for example, by journalists’ reaction to the governor’s coming late to his own news conference which will now be held on a quarterly, not monthly basis as under Rossel. A. Misharin was openly asked if his being late signaled his team members’ non-professionalism or his disrespect for the journalists. Two weeks later he agreed to meet with district editors to hear a thing or two about their problems and prospects.

D. P.: There are also other signals of how the independent media initiate public actions against a priori non-acceptable government decisions. Several thousand people rallied in downtown Yekaterinburg recently against the construction of a church at the initiative of regional authorities and the eparchy in Istorichesky Square, a place where local residents like to have a rest. That rally crowned heated public debates initiated by the city’s media, particularly the online ones.

On the whole, however, I would say the press freedom situation in the Sverdlovsk Region, regardless of the unchanged rating according to the Glasnost Map, has worsened and we are closer to the formula “relatively not free”.

Corr.: Evidently, in the future, the experts will need to expand the rating list, adding a few more ratings to the existing five.

D. P.: I would attach to the Map a brief explanatory note showing how the regional situation has changed over the past year.

Corr.: Yes, that would make the picture more dynamic. Returning to the current rating, I think I understand why the GDF experts see our situation as relatively stable. That must be because of the large number of media outlets existing in the region, including several private independent media holdings; another clear advantage is the powerful science base, the School of Journalism at Urals State University, and the well-adjusted system of support represented by the regional branch of the Journalists’ Union where colleagues may turn for legal assistance in the event of conflicts.

D. P.: That’s so – and still, the vector of development is directed downward, towards ever lesser freedom.

Corr.: But it is also connected with the general state of democracy in the country.

D. P.: By all means. And I think the Glasnost Map’s main function is to give an alerting signal about problems not only to us journalists but also, and primarily, to the authorities: “Go ahead, learn your lessons – you aren’t performing well enough!” Actually, press freedom is needed so that the government officials don’t feel too cosy and beyond control.

Corr.: But the situation did not change overnight. The journalists could see it starting to worsen when the new system of subordination was adopted and the institute of election gave way to appointments. Earlier, a governor or mayor, as well as deputies, knowing they would run for re-election 4 or 5 years later, had to rely on ordinary citizens for support; today they are seeking it within the ruling elite, the person who appointed them, or the ruling United Russia Party. And if so, the relations between the authorities and the independent press are growing worse, to put it mildly. 

D. P.: That’s absolutely true.

Corr.: And one other important thing about the Glasnost Map. A region’s rating is heavily dependent on the number of conflicts there – threats against journalists, attacks on them, confiscation of print run or office equipment; the number of legal claims lodged against reporters, restrictions on their access to information, etc.

D. P.: Of course, those statistics are important, but the freedom of expression situation should not be assessed based on quantitative factors alone. Otherwise, international organizations like Reporters Without Borders would give the highest press freedom rating to China where there are no conflicts at all, and within Russia – to Tatarstan or Kalmykia where the press is absolutely manageable and there are no conflicts whatsoever. Therefore, expert evaluations matter a lot to keep the balance.

On the whole, I repeat, the general picture looks fairly objective. Anyway, as head of the Urals branch of the Journalists’ Union, I agree with the Map’s ratings of the regions that are close to ours.              


2. Ex-editor’s appeal to fellow journalists 

To media offices,
journalistic and human rights associations,
and anyone treasuring glasnost and freedom of expression

Dear colleagues,

This is to call your attention to a problem that has long remained unaddressed – the difficulties, arbitrary treatment and lawlessness which corporate media reporters face in their everyday professional work. On June 3 I was dismissed (formally, resigned voluntarily) as editor-in-chief of the newspaper released at Togliatti State University (TSU), in which position I had worked since December 2006, invited by the former rector, Sergey F. Zhilkin, who died a tragic death later. Over the two years of our cooperation with Mr. Zhilkin, he never once attempted to meddle in the editorial policy, while being the newspaper’s actual founder, nor gave me any reason to start defending the journalists’ rights.

But with the new rector at the helm, such reasons abound.

My resignation was caused by my unwillingness to put up with flagrant violations at TSU of the RF Media Law – according to experts, the sole piece of legislation giving people at least some protections against all sorts of maniacs striving for power. Mikhail Krishtal, elected TSU rector last summer, proceeded to systematically breach the RF Constitution – the primary regulatory instrument of the work of the newspaper Tolyattinsky Universitet, an officially registered media outlet. Suffice it to say that he personally censored the newspaper – a practice banned under the law, and last autumn he ordered confiscating the full print run on some contrived pretext, which can only be done in Russia in line with a court decision.
 
Throughout the academic year, Mr. Krishtal continued behaving like that in spite of my repeated protests. Most recently, he edited out from one of this May’s issues a truthful, sharp-tongued and altogether brilliant article by Yekaterina Kolpinets, a student of the school of journalism, about Victory Day celebrations in Togliatti – and this despite Yekaterina’s winning the latest regional journalistic competition “The Golden Pen of the Province” in the “Debut” nomination.

Very unfortunately, the rector’s policy is supported by his subordinate Natalya Yarygina, head of the TSU Public Relations and Media Department, who, by the way, is also a Board member at the Samara branch of the RF Journalists’ Union.

Can professional journalists possibly work in such an environment? As is known, any newspaper is the façade of its founding organization, and one can easily imagine what is going on behind that façade… Of course, a state educational institution can be turned into a private enterprise, as it sometimes happens in this country. But I cannot understand why the bodies supervising education and enforcing media legislation should be keeping silent.

Sincerely,

Sergey Melnik,
former editor-in-chief, newspaper Tolyattinsky Universitet,
member of RF Journalists’ Union since 1995.
____________________


OUR PARTNERS

1. Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations greets GDF

The Glasnost Defense Foundation is marking its 19th birthday this week - 19 years of struggle for freedom of expression; 19 years of work in defense of journalists’ rights; 19 years of action in support of the families of reporters who died fulfilling editorial assignments and media workers in dire straits; 19 years of efforts to preserve and expand the area of respect for human rights.

The Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations congratulates the GDF staff and the Foundation’s unchallenged leader, Alexei Simonov, on this remarkable date.


2. RF Journalists’ Union greets GDF

For nearly twenty years now, the Glasnost Defense Foundation has fought for freedom of expression and defended media and journalists’ rights. The GDF is a unique organization monitoring violations of journalists’ rights on a daily basis, contributing to the investigation of killings of and attacks on reporters, and publishing clever books that teach journalists the basics of legal safety. It has scored quite a few victories in courts and in corridors of power defending people’s right to be informed. The GDF staffers and President Alexei Simonov are long-time and reliable partners of the Russian Journalists’ Union in the struggle for freedom of expression.

The RJU congratulates the GDF colleagues on the 19th birthday of their Foundation and wishes them good health, new creative achievements and the best of happiness.

____________________________________________________________________________

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.


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, 119902 Moscow, Russia.
Telephone/fax: (495) 637-4947, 637-4420, e-mail: boris@gdf.ru, fond@gdf.ru
To be crossed out from the Digest list of subscribers, please e-mail a note to 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