Дайджест
5 Августа 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 484

RUSSIA
1. Karachai-Cherkess Republic. Lady journalist claiming to have been under surveillance died in road accident
2. Moscow Region. Reporters attacked by police officers
3. Perm Region. Newspaper sanctioned for “smearing” mayor
4. Rostov-on-Don. Military journalist’s book returned to author
5. Sakhalin Region. Salmon wars
6. Chelyabinsk. Reporters accused of forgetting “to switch on brains”
7. Krasnodar Region. Why prosecute journalist?
8. Kurgan. Pseudo author must be identified
9. Maritime Region. Yet another fake number of Arsenyevskiye Vesti released

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
1. Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in June 2010
2. GDF president holds news conference in Perm

OUR PUBLICATIONS
Newspaper Zarya Timana on verge of seizure in Sosnogorsk

OUR PARTNERS
Statement by Dosh magazine staff

DIGEST MAIL
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RUSSIA

1. Karachai-Cherkess Republic. Lady journalist claiming to have been under surveillance died in road accident

By Dmitry Florin,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Bella Ksalova, 26, a correspondent for the Caucasian Knot news agency, was run over by a car near her house in Cherkessk at about 9 p.m. July 25. According to the Karachai-Cherkess police, the lady journalist was crossing the street “in the wrong place”. Preliminary investigation shows the driver of the car that hit her, Arsen Abaikhanov, was sober and stayed at the scene of the accident. He was driving a service Volga belonging to RosPrirodNadzor [federal agency supervising the use of natural resources].

Bella was driven to the republican clinic where she soon died of the traumas she had received.

She had a sharply critical pen that would often cause local authorities to frown. The journalist and her relatives lived under tough pressure for a long time, and Bella’s father was attacked and beaten up once. She wrote about problems with freedom of expression in Karachai-Cherkessia; provided coverage of extraordinary Cherkess people’s congresses where the republic’s leadership was severely criticized; and had prepared a series of video reports describing various aspects of ordinary people’s life. The series included sequences of a rally in memory of physician Alamat Kecherukov that had grown over into an action of canvassing for President Ebzeyev; video stories about Cherkess ethnicity; warnings about the dangerous proximity of the TB hospital in Cherkessk to social infrastructure facilities; about problems facing the residents of city hostels; and many other reports. Bella’s latest Caucasian Knot publications described constructive trends in the republic, measures to restore ethnic culture and traditions, and revitalize the Abazin language.

Shortly before her death Bella Ksalova returned from a seminar in Moscow. She had repeatedly told her colleagues at Caucasian Knot she was under surveillance. One taxi driver had openly told her secret agents had been watching her house from a car parked nearby. In Bella’s view, there might be quite a few people in the republic who would like to see no more of her publications released, ever.


2. Moscow Region. Reporters attacked by police officers

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Police in the town of Khimki near Moscow have detained reporters covering an action of protest against the felling of trees in the Khimki forest [a national park zone]. The group of detainees included Novaya Gazeta special reporter Elena Kostyuchenko and Radio Liberty photo correspondent Yuri Timofeyev. A law court has already found the police officers’ actions unlawful.

The detention operation was rather tough again. Unlike Gazeta.ru reporter Alexander Artemyev, who had “only” his hand broken by the police during a crackdown on dissenters in Moscow May 31 (for details, see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/743#event ), E. Kostyuchenko was elbowed in the neck receiving a serious spinal trauma.

On July 27 Novaya Gazeta published a “Statement of Crime” reading, in part, as follows: “We insist that the guilty police officers be held liable in line with criminal law. We maintain they committed offenses falling under four Criminal Code articles: Article 286.3a (‘A government officer’s action in excess of his/her authority, with violence involved’); Article 301 (‘Unlawful detention’); Article 112.2b (‘Deliberate medium-gravity bodily damage inflicted on a person performing professional duty’); and Article 144.2 (‘Interference with a journalist’s lawful professional work by a person abusing his/her official position’)”.

The newspaper wants the incident to be carefully investigated “because impunity leads to still graver tragedies. These tragedies have happened to journalists and human rights activists increasingly often of late particularly because of the state’s unwillingness to have persons feeling free to resort to violence on the pretext of ‘defending state interests’ held liable under the law.”


3. Perm Region. Newspaper sanctioned for “smearing” mayor

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

A legal claim filed by Boris Sokolov, mayor of Kudymkar, Perm Region, against Sergey Vlasov, the founder and editor of the newspaper Rakurs, and Anatoly Golubkov, director of the municipal water supply and sewage company Kudymkarsky Vodokanal, has been partially satisfied.

Rakurs is the youngest independent newspaper in the Perm Region, having a circulation of 5,000. Released for less than a year, it has sought to be in the right place and at the right time to report on each significant event. But its journalists are yet to gain experience as regards settling legal disputes with government authorities.

During last winter’s public hearings of amendments to the city charter, Rakurs featured a series of reports under the common title “Moment of Truth”. The series included quotes from statements made by speakers at the hearings, of whom some had assessed local administrators’ and parliamentarians’ performance very critically. A. Golubkov, for one, said that parliamentarian Chugayev had obtained a land plot in downtown Kudymkar skirting official competition; parliamentarian Ivanov had been offered to purchase a drugstore on beneficial terms; and two other deputies had been told they would get promotions. Although the sources had been duly mentioned, the defendants could not show documents to prove that, and the court found the publication “libelous and ruinous to the honor, dignity and business reputation of Mayor Boris Sokolov”. The newspaper was required to publish a refutation, and Vlasov and Golubkov to pay Sokolov RUR 5,000 each in moral damage compensation. The higher-standing regional court of Perm turned the newspaper’s appeal down confirming the primary court’s ruling.

The refutation is to be featured in the next issue of Rakurs.


4. Rostov-on-Don. Military journalist’s book returned to author

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

Military correspondent Col. Nikolai Astashkin’s book “Tragedy & Farce: Modern Cossacks’ Behind-the-Looking-Glass World” has grown very popular with both ordinary readers and Cossack atamans. The cover page features a portrait of Viktor Vodolatsky, Chief Ataman of the Great Don Army, deputy governor of the Rostov Region and a State Duma member whose activities the author finds in many aspects unsatisfactory.

On July 24, 2009 Astashkin was transporting stacks of his book to the Upper Don area where Cossacks were due to hold a big meeting. His vehicle was stopped at a traffic police checkpoint, and police officers seized his books and carried them away. It was not until six months later that Astashkin had a phone call from Maj. Fomichov, an investigator with the Krasnosulinsky District police department, who told him he could come over to pick the books up. But the author insisted that the police officers apologize for their unlawful behavior and bring the books back to Rostov because he has no car of his own. The police said no. A few days ago Astashkin collected his books himself.

Meanwhile, one of the “Tragedy & Farce” characters, Anatoly Kiblitsky, lodged a legal claim in defense of his honor and dignity. Having not yet started to consider the case in essence, Judge Usenko of the Oktyabrsky District court in Rostov-on-Don 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. Now those hearings are over, with the claim turned down, but a new claim has been lodged by Chief Ataman Vodolatsky. The hearings are proceeding in at Leninsky District court.

The Glasnost Defense Foundation will follow the developments closely.


5. Sakhalin Region. Salmon wars

By Olga Vassilyeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

The Federal Fisheries Agency (FFA) has urged the RF Prosecutor General’s Office to take a closer look at the content of the newspaper Rybak Sakhalina’s publications. According to agency spokesman Alexander Savelyev, some stories indicate that the newspaper may be in breach of Article 152 of the RF Civil Code (“Damage to one’s honor, dignity and business reputation”) as well as Articles 129 (“Libel”), 130 (“Defamation”) and 319 (“Insult to a government official”) of the RF Criminal Code.
 
The conflict flared up over last April’s newspaper story “Andrei Krainy’s Business” [Krainy is the head of the FFA] by Vladimir Bubnov who suggested the FFA had been imposing abstruse work plans on Sakhalin fishermen and embedding its own appointees with the bodies managing the fishing season. One of such “embeds”, M. Kozlov, got insulted and filed a 5-item legal claim in defense of his honor, dignity and business reputation, demanding a refutation, a public apology, and the newspaper’s payment of the judicial costs.

The city court of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk satisfied his claim partially (two items of five) and required Rybak Sakhalina to publish the ruling on those two items. As regards public apology, the court explained to the plaintiff that such is not provided for by effective federal legislation. Significantly, the court did not find the following passage defamatory and turned down Kozlov’s objections against it: “The federal official’s business has been clearly corruption-prone, as signaled by his unjustified desire to get two FFA territorial divisions merged into one, as well as his longing to put at the helm one of his own appointees who would be guided not by the law but by the underworld rules while securing a stable source of substantial income for his bosses.”

The author, V. Bubnov, has filed a protest with the higher-standing regional court. Although hearings are still pending, the FFA is already celebrating its victory over the newspaper. Evidently eager to further strengthen its success, it appealed also to the Prosecutor General’s Office for support.


6. Chelyabinsk. Reporters accused of forgetting “to switch on brains”

By Irina Gundareva,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

Regional administration officials in Chelyabinsk have been eager to “educate” the journalists by lecturing them on whatever subject and at whatever time they can. Sometimes, their didactic endeavors have led to funny situations.

Last week, regional Vice-Governor Vadim Yevdokimov reprimanded the reporters for asking the governor “inappropriate” and “impertinent” questions during a press briefing – for instance, about the future of the cadets of a recently dissolved military academy or the land on which the academy barracks used to stand. Also, the journalists put the governor to the blush with a question about the Zlatoust metallurgy works director’s name which he did not remember.

“Why ask the governor – ask Serdyukov [his aide] about that kind of things!” Yevdokimov shouted at the reporters after the briefing.
 
“Tell your bosses to purchase microphone rods for you – you are getting in each other’s way in front of the cameras!” he lectured the TV reporters. “And generally, I have a feeling most of you woke up this morning and only took time to make up nicely but forgot all about switching your brains on!”

His catchphrase instantly flew around the region, repeated a thousand times in web blogs, email messages and telephone conversations. Meeting to cover various official events, reporters are now asking each other: “You didn’t forget to switch on your brains today, did you? Little Vadim [Yevdokimov, a former radio station DJ and until recently their colleague] may want to check, you know…”

Considering the fact that the majority of Chelyabinsk reporters are women, the vice-governor’s utterance sounds pretty male chauvinistic.


7. Krasnodar Region. Why prosecute journalist?

By Victoria Tashmatova,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

For more than a year now, the Timashevsk Inter-District Department of the Krasnodar branch of the Investigative Committee under the RF Prosecutor General’s Office has been investigating a criminal case opened on libel charges against Svetlana Yarosh, editor-in-chief of the local television company TTV, in response to a complaint filed by local parliamentarian Vitaly Lebedev.

On May 14, 2009, the district newspaper Antisprut featured an article titled “How Deputy Lebedev Bought the Prosecutor’s Office”. The story, written by Lebedev himself, spelt out his own version of his purchase of a municipal building in Timashevsk market square at a strikingly low price.

Two days later the TV show Nashe Vremya-Itogi made public an official document – the findings of a checkup carried out by the district prosecutor’s office – that said the district administration had broken the law by selling municipal property as cheaply as that. In her introductory remark the host S. Yarosh quoted the title of the article carried by Antisprut. That was what triggered the institution of legal proceedings against her.

Pressed hard by the district and regional prosecutors, the Timashevsk administration was compelled to declare the municipal building sale transaction null and void. But its organizers, far from being held answerable for their wrongdoing, accused the journalist of libel and made district investigator V. Kozlov start the legal proceedings against S. Yarosh that have continued for 15 months now.

The case files include forensic expert conclusions saying that Yarosh’s statement can only be regarded as smearing if the whole content of the TV show is proven to have been libelous. Media analysts at the regional public organization Golos Kubani have, too, concluded that the TTV journalist’s introductory statement only cited the title of a story featured by Antisprut – no more than that. So why prosecute the lady journalist – for duly doing her professional work?


8. Kurgan. Pseudo author must be identified

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

A justice of the peace in Kurgan completed hearings July 9 of the case of Ura.ru journalist Yekaterina Lazareva accused of “publicly smearing” former Mayor Anatoly Yelchaninov, an offense for which the city head claimed RUR 10,000,000 in moral damage compensation.

The court acquitted Lazareva, lifted the restrictions on her right to leave town, and affirmed her right to claim full rehabilitation. The ex-mayor’s civil claim was turned down.

As we have reported, libel charges against Y. Lazareva, a journalist known for her sharp-worded and biting publications, were advanced under Article 129.2 of the RF Criminal Code last April, following the posting on the Kurgan.ru website of a critical article whose authorship was ascribed to Lazareva based on the findings of Tamara Izotova, a linguistic expert at the Ural Center for Forensic Studies.

The Kurgan.ru editor made an official statement ruling out Lazareva’s authorship and acknowledging the fact that the article had been received from an anonymous writer and published without any checking of facts. The story did contain a few passages from Lazareva’s publications at Ura.ru (which is a publicly accessible website the content of which may be freely copied by anyone) that, however, had been compiled and edited in a way that made them strikingly different from the original.

Apart from acquitting the journalist, the court sent the case files to the head of the regional Investigative Committee for re-investigation and identification of the true author of the story smearing ex-Mayor Yelchaninov.


9. Maritime Region. Yet another fake number of Arsenyevskiye Vesti released

By Anna Seleznyova,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Unidentified persons released three fake (duplicate, i.e. rival) issues of the newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti (AV) in 2008, claiming that the angry staffers had ousted the then editor Irina Grebneva and replaced her with the second co-founder, Mr. Romanenko. The authors of those fakes were never tracked down by the police, prosecutor’s office, FSB or RosKomNadzor [the federal agency in charge of public communications] at the time.

The latest false number of AV, released in the remote Pozharsky District on the eve of elections of a new head of local administration, featured a story titled “Gangsters Thirsting for Power”. The goal was clear – to smear the alternative candidate, Vladimir Sinitsyn, who had been gaining an electoral advantage over the incumbent district head, a member of the ruling United Russia party.

Also, the action was aimed at setting up Arsenyevskiye Vesti, a newspaper that had not officially applied for providing election race coverage and was rumored by its opponents to be “on the verge of closure”. Reports about the release of the fake came from readers in the Pozharsky District who enclosed copies of the alternative publication at AV’s request.

AV editor sent an explanatory note to the Maritime branch of RosKomNadzor and officially urged the regional prosecutor’s office and the police and FSB departments to look for the evil-minded authors of the fake. Hopefully, the law enforcers will perform more efficiently now than they did two years ago.
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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

1. Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in June 2010

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Dmitry Okkert, host and editor of news show, Expert TV, Moscow).

Attacks on journalists – 2 (Vladislav Sadykov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Golos Solidarnosti, Altai Region; Oleg Tomilin and Yevgeny Semyonov, reporter and cameraman, REN-TV, Moscow).

Attacks on media offices – 1 (Radio station Pioner FM-Ne Ochen Vzrosloye Radio, Moscow).

Instances of censorship – 1 (newspaper Tolyattinsky Universitet, Samara Region).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 4 (newspaper Vechernyaya Ryazan, Ryazan; Vladislav Selninov, director, state TV company Khamdan, Elista; Natalia Koldayeva, reporter, Kalmyk television, Elista; Svetlana Moskalenko, Radio Liberty reporter, Trans-Baikal Region).

Illegal sacking of a journalist/editor – 1 (Valery Kharchenko, editor-in-chief, newspaper Zori, Krasnodar Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 3 (Alexander Ryklin, editor-in-chief, Yezhednevny Zhurnal, Moscow; Andrei Piontkovsky, political scientist and observer for Grani.ru, Moscow; Ilya Varlamov, freelance journalist, Moscow).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 29, worth a total of RUR 1,057,350,001.

Earlier claims, considered – 10, satisfied – 6, total amount of moral compensation charged – RUR 515,000.

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.) – 32.

Threats against journalists and media – 2 (Tatyana Tolskaya, editor-in-chief, website Glazei.ru, Moscow Region; Nikolai Vitovtsev, editor-in-chief, Postskriptum weekly, Altai Republic).

Refusal to print or distribute media – 1 (newspaper Pravda Severa, Arkhangelsk).

Closure of media – 9 (newspapers Uskoreniye, Maria Plus, Zov Otechestva, Prospekt, Pyatnitsa & Co., Krossvordy o Krossvordakh and Upa, radio stations Govorit Volovo and Govorit Chern – all in Tula Region).

Interference with web publications – 3 (websites Teron.ru, Putin.itogi and Ura.ru).

Confiscation of/ damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 2 (video camera and cassette of REN-TV, Moscow).

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


2. GDF president holds news conference in Perm

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

Glasnost Defense Foundation President Alexei Simonov held a news conference, “Journalism – an Art of Freedom”, for media workers in Perm July 26 at the request of the regional journalistic association.

He had come to Perm to attend the 6th International Civil Forum “Powersaw-2010” held at the memorial museum of the history of Stalinist repressions. Simonov took part in different discussions and other public events, focusing on media problems and ways of dealing with them. During his news conference, which was attended by both experienced and budding journalists from across the region, he highlighted the most important aspects of media activities, such as the current pattern of government-media relations. Earlier the GDF had made public an updated edition of its Glasnost Map showing, based on expert conclusions, that there is not a single region in Russia where the press is fully free and independent, and in only a few regions are the media deemed to be “relatively free”. In the rest of the country, the media – especially municipal and district newspapers and local TV companies – are dependent on the authorities.

Nationwide, the media situation has continued deteriorating, Simonov said. For example, the number of honor, dignity and business reputation protection claims lodged against journalists and media outlets increased more than fivefold since 2005 to 1,500 last year.

In many regions, including Perm, it has become a kind of established practice to replace the regional leader together with the editor-in-chief of the main local newspaper. The Glasnost Defense Foundation has actively protested against this practice while carefully studying the reasons in each particular case. Its interference helped earlier this year to get Oleg Borisenko, the fired editor-in-chief of the newspaper Krasnokamskaya Zvesda (Perm Region), reinstated in his position.

Over the past two years, the GDF has actively helped to make the judiciary more transparent. Many courts have started their own websites, begun to allow video recording of court hearings, etc. A plenary meeting of the RF Supreme Court passed a decision against charging inordinately large amounts of compensation from newspapers accused of publishing unchecked or distorted information, to prevent them from going bankrupt. Nevertheless, the average amounts of compensation awarded in this kind of cases have notably increased over the years.

But the most alarming thing, according to A. Simonov, is that the journalists themselves have grown accustomed to the unhealthy media situation and most of them do not believe it can ever be remedied – an attitude signaling serious problems within the journalistic community. One is the low level of journalists’ professionalism; another is self-censorship that has been growing ever more widespread. Also, the number of journalists taking part in human rights contests, such as the Andrei Sakharov or Artyom Borovik Award competitions, has been decreasing; actually, both contests have seen one and the same group of authors applying for participation every year…

Journalists asked Alexei Simonov many questions – about his work on the presidential council for civil society development; whether he sees ways of overcoming the media’s economic dependence on the authorities, especially at local level; problems in the media’s relations with human rights defenders, etc.
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OUR PUBLICATIONS

Newspaper Zarya Timana on verge of seizure in Sosnogorsk

By Tamara Makarova,
Newspaper Zarya Timana (Republic of Komi)

It all began with Sergey Volkovinsky, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zarya Timana (ZT), getting the sack on orders from Igor Petrov, deputy head of the district administration.

In line with Article 45.6 of Federal Law No. 67-FZ, as a journalist covering elections, Volkovinsky cannot be fired for 12 months following the voting, “except in the event of his receiving a reprimand in compliance with the Labor Code that has not been challenged in court or has been found by a court to be well justified and fully legal”. A year has not passed since then: the reprimand was dated July 22, 2010, and Petrov was dismissed the following day without any chance of challenging it. The most striking thing is that the reason for the reprimand (default in wage payments) had been created by the district administration itself, which had delegated the publishing of its normative documents to another newspaper, Informatsionnyi Vestnik. For the first time in its 30-year history, ZT had to briefly delay wage payments to its staffers of whom not a single one expressed his or her dissatisfaction. Yet the district administration reported the delay to the prosecutor’s office and Volkovinsky was required to pay a fine. Then the July 22 reprimand followed… A similar previous attempt to fire the editor during the one-year period of his post-election journalistic immunity, made by the I. Leonov administration in December 2007-January 2008, had been thwarted by the prosecutor’s office (which is why none of the latest dismissal documents bears district head Leonov’s signature).

The editor’s vacancy was filled – in crude violation of the newspaper’s Charter – by I. Vedoinik, a member of the municipal Property Management Committee, who was appointed to work part-time but with a full-scale salary, despite her having zero experience of prior work in the media sector. Her candidacy had not been discussed by the staff as is required under the Charter. Besides, Vedoinik’s combining the two positions is against Article 21 of the Federal Law “On State and Municipal Unitary Enterprises” which prohibits the heads of such enterprises to simultaneously do municipal service. It is not surprising, therefore, that the ZT staffers have not recognized Vedoinik as their lawful leader and are refusing to fulfil her orders.

The latest ZT number was printed July 30 and submitted to the Sosnogorsk postal service unit for distribution among the subscribers. Yet it was not delivered to them the following day. Instead, the readers received a revised edition of the newspaper printed in Ukhta. The statement of protest by the staff (which is the newspaper’s co-founder) was clipped out and replaced with another material; and the issue was signed by the unlawfully appointed I. Vedoinik, not by the acting editor-in-chief Stakhovskaya as would be fair and proper.

The ZT office door was broken by district administration officials August 1. No one knows what happened inside the office.

The Glasnost Defense Foundation has urged district administration head I. Leonov to take a close look at the conflict and undo the injustice done to S. Volkovinsky.
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OUR PARTNERS

Statement by Dosh magazine staff

Dosh magazine has suffered an irreparable loss. Our North Caucasus correspondent Malika Betiyeva died a tragic death in Chechnya together with her family.

A car crash on the highway between Grozny and Shatoi took the lives of Malika, her two sons aged 14 and 12, her husband and his sister.

She was a very gifted and courageous reporter. Although she worked also for a republican youth newspaper, she contributed a variety of stories for our magazine, often probing very sensitive themes at the risk to her life.

Time and again, caring for Malika’s physical integrity, we would publish her reports under an assumed name, and sometimes would even delay publications until later. She wrote about the lawless behaviour of the force agencies which had repeatedly tried to pass killed civilians for militants; about pressure on students’ parents in some Grozny high schools to pay for the school uniform (which is not officially required), and many other urgent problems.

M. Betiyeva and other regional correspondents were busy organizing the journalistic competition “How the War Changed My Life” announced by Dosh magazine in Chechnya. The contest is to draw public attention to the problems facing tens of thousands of people crippled in the course of the two last wars.

Malika would have celebrated her 44th birthday this October.

Last year, M. Betiyeva became a finalist in the Andrei Sakharov competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.

We have launched an independent investigation into the circumstances of the fatal road accident.


[Dosh magazine staff]
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DIGEST MAIL

Dear colleagues,

I already appealed for your help after I was beaten up last November. I spent four months proving I had been victimized, and another four months trying to get at least one of the attackers held answerable. Finally, he was convicted under Article 116 of the RF Criminal Code.

As regards my professional activities, I have succeeded in releasing nine issues of Yarkovosti (a newspaper with a circulation of 4,000). Many fellow villagers like my newspaper, but many more people, especially in neighboring villages, are still afraid to admit they saw or, still worse, they read it. Their fear of the authorities seems to be inborn…

Many thanks for your support. Without your publications in the GDF Digest and Zhurnalist magazine, I would have been likely to be quietly ousted from my native village and forced to move elsewhere. Yet I still live and work here – in an environment close to “field conditions” but with no open provocations attempted against me so far.

Sincerely,
Oleg Rayevsky, editor-in-chief, newspaper Yarkovosti (Tyumen Region)

***

Dear friends,

I have read your conflict-monitoring data in Zhurnalist magazine with great interest. Now that I have got involved in a conflict myself, I am sending you the following piece of information.

On June 29 I, the editor-in-chief of the weekly Drug Dlya Druga (an officially certified media outlet and the Kursk Region’s leader in terms of circulation – 40,000), was summoned to the regional police department for questioning in connection with 15 publications released during the first six months of this year. A police officer explained they had received a gubernatorial request to take a closer look at those publications which “criticized the performance of the regional administration led by Governor A. N. Mikhailov”.

Asked “Why discredit the governor?”, I said my colleagues and I thought that the regional authorities, including Mr. Mikhailov, had themselves done a variety of things discrediting them in the eyes of the public, and that my newspaper, reflecting the realities of life, was free to assess the official performance independently – even if negatively or critically. Asking, in my turn, what specific charges the governor had brought against us, I was told: “None so far – we are still checking the facts.” I was not shown the governor’s complaint that had given rise to the investigation. Required to give explanations in writing, I referred to the RF Constitution and the European Convention guaranteeing everyone the freedom of expression. The governor has not yet lodged an official legal claim. Let’s wait and see if he will…

We have repeatedly asked the governor different questions on the pages of our newspaper but, in violation of the law, he never replied to a single one of our inquiries but complained to the law enforcement bodies instead. That’s the kind of “glasnost” we have here in Kursk…

Best regards,
Yevgeny Novikov
____________________________________________________________________________

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, 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