Дайджест
11 Августа 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 485

TOPIC OF THE WEEK
Police looks for pogrom-makers among journalists

RUSSIA
1. Samara. Prosecutor’s office at administrator’s service
2. Yekaterinburg. Journalist finally acquitted
3. Samara Region. Reporters threatened
4. Perm Region. Doubts concerning charisma not an insult

TAJIKISTAN
Government-disliked newspapers will not be printed

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

OUR PUBLICATIONS
Journalism – a dangerous profession
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TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Police looks for pogrom-makers among journalists

Police in the town of Khimki near Moscow had got so busy protecting local forest destroyers from peaceful demonstrators for the national park’s preservation that they failed to duly react to an action of protest by angry young people who attacked the town administration headquarters July 28. According to media reports, the few police patrols the young radicals happened to meet on their way preferred to dodge direct contact with the mob and disappear in the quiet by-streets instead of getting “personally acquainted” with action participants.

But they were soon told to by their command, so they proceeded to search information about the pogrom instigators among the journalists and those forest defenders who have never gone beyond peaceful protests and sought to maintain a civilized dialogue with the authorities. For example, after a news conference at Moscow’s Independent Press Center, they detained “for questioning” Yevgenia Chirikova, leader of the Movement in Defense of the Khimki Forest. According to several dozen eyewitnesses, the detention was “pretty tough” and looked more like abduction.

The journalists, too, had quite a lot to bear. To begin with, Vitaly Shushkevich, editor-in-chief of the website Besttoday.ru, who had been video recording the radicals’ action, was likewise detained “for questioning” in the middle of the night, to stay at the police station for nearly 24 hours. His home apartment was searched and his PC and notebooks were confiscated. Veronica Maksimyuk, a freelance reporter for Novaya Gazeta, was detained and questioned in connection with the Khimki pogrom, as were Moskovsky Komsomolets and Komsomolskaya Pravda stringer Anastasia Krivoshanova and Svobodnaya Pressa reporter Pavel Nikulin. Yet another journalist, Ilya Vasyunin of Dozhd TV Channel, was told on the phone to report to the Khimki police department but refused to and requested an official summons. Kommersant Daily correspondent Alexander Chernykh, who had watched the attack on the administration headquarters from afar, was interrogated by the police, and Novaya Gazeta reporter Alexander Litoy was even taken off the train while returning to Moscow from a holiday in Sevastopol – and this despite his assurances that he had been staying with his relatives in Ukraine during the unrest in Khimki.

The law enforcers went beyond detentions and interrogations. Two police officers visited Gazeta.ru reporter Grigory Tumanov’s mother late at night telling her she was listed among the activists of some ecological movement and was therefore of interest to the investigators of the Khimki pogrom case. Tumanov himself told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that his mother has only heard about the campaign in defense of the Khimki forest from media reports and that he sees the night-time police visit as an attempt to put pressure on him in order to prevent his further unbiased reporting on the Khimki developments.

Police officers also visited the offices of Kommersant and Svobodnaya Pressa to seize photo pictures and video sequences featuring the attack on the Khimki administration headquarters. This time they were rather polite, according to Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin. Yet they demanded the e-mail address of a Khimki pogrom-maker who had granted Kommersant an interview on anonymity terms. The editor refused to disclose the address in line with Article 41 of the RF Media Law which only allows the disclosure of anonymous sources if requested by a law court.

GDF President Alexei Simonov maintains that those police actions are intended to stop the flow of information about the Khimki confrontation. “We live in a country where the police feel free to act the way they like once they receive the go-ahead command,” he said.

…And one other peculiar initiative: the emergency regime imposed throughout the Moscow Region in view of the forest fires led to the establishment August 4 of a “special accreditation regime” for media reporters who are now allowed to work in that area only with special permission from the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry. To be sure, containing the forest fires is a very important thing to do; yet there is a feeling that the regional authorities simply want to bar unwanted eyewitnesses of the Khimki forest standoff from the scene on the pretext of fighting the fire.

The only question is whom will the sluggish police officers interrogate next time if no reporters happen to be found at the scene of a conflict?
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RUSSIA

1. Samara. Prosecutor’s office at administrator’s service

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The prosecutor’s office of the Sovetsky District in Samara has warned the weekly Samarskaya Nedelya (SN, a supplement to the newspaper Volzhskaya Zarya) of its being “in breach of Article 49.5 of the RF Media Law and Article 1226 of the RF Civil Code”. That signaled the prosecutors’ support for the legal claims lodged by Samara Vice-Mayor Sergey Arsentyev against SN in the wake of its publishing – without his consent – his own and his wife’s photo portraits supplied with an editorial commentary, which action struck the municipal official as a violation of his copyright (sic!).

The prosecutor’s office required SN to “rectify the law violations by eliminating the reasons and conditions conducive thereto”, and “take disciplinary measures in respect of those guilty”. In the process, it referred to Articles 1259, 1265 and 1266 of the RF Civil Code which have nothing at all to do with the photo pictures’ publication and only apply to copyrighted items, proclaiming a person’s right of authorship and name and guaranteeing a copyrighted work’s integrity and protection from distortion. Since S. Arsentyev did not make those photo pictures personally (they were reprinted from the Samara-based magazines Pervy Modny and Ya Pokupayu), he cannot possibly claim to be involved in the latter two patterns of civil law relations, either. Consequently, in line with Article 57.6 of the Media Law, neither the newspaper nor the authors of the publications are subject to legal liability. The prosecutors’ reference to Article 49.5 of the Media Law is equally irrelevant, and Article 1226 of the Civil Code was only cited in a bid to “protect” the municipal official’s public image.

As we see it, the prosecutor’s office demonstrated its utter incompetence in matters regulated by media legislation. Moreover, it went beyond the range of its official authority by requiring SN to “rectify” some alleged law violations that had never occurred in real terms.


2. Yekaterinburg. Journalist finally acquitted

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

It has taken over 8 years for Yekaterinburg-based journalist Yana Porubova to undo the injustice done to her in 2002 when she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on libel and defamation charges.

The court passed that decision for a publication featured by her newspaper D.S.P. that compromised several high-ranking regional administration officials and parliamentarians. Finally, not so long ago, the Presidium of the RF Supreme Court fully acquitted Porubova, finding no elements and no event of crime in her actions. Prior to that, she had won her case in Strasbourg, too.

In line with existing legislation, the lady journalist may now demand full restoration in her rights and claim moral and material compensation from the RF Finance Ministry. It may as well be noted that soon after her conviction Yana was amnestied and did not have to serve any time in prison in real terms.


3. Samara Region. Reporters threatened

Back in March, an unknown man called the office of the Syzran-based newspaper Khronograf, taking 20 minutes to tell the journalists in a very rude form that they “worked for regional Duma deputy Vladimir Simonov”.

The staffers saw that as an open threat to their own lives and the future of their newspaper. They said the caller “did not bother to choose words or care about the possibility of the telephone conversation being tape-recorded. He laughed when we said we might report his call to the police. He did not identify himself.”

In the journalists’ view, “the existence of an independent media outlet in Syzran is definitely not in the interests of those claiming to be at the city’s helm”, which makes the whole thing look like a deliberate attempt to put pressure on Khronograf and its staffers. Also, they are puzzled by the behavior of Mayor Viktor Khlystov who has, from the first days of Khronograf’s emergence in Syzran, refused to reply to journalistic inquiries or give reporters accreditation to cover official events.

Now, five months later, there are still no reports available about any progress in the incident’s investigation …


4. Perm Region. Doubts concerning charisma not an insult

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The city court in Solikamsk, Perm Region, has turned down an honor-and-dignity protection claim lodged against the municipal unitary enterprise Solikamsk-MEDIA by Yevgeny Dmitriyev, a district assembly deputy and coordinator of the local branch of the Liberal-Democratic Party. Moreover, the court required Dmitriyev to pay Solikamsk-MEDIA RUR 3,500 in judicial costs compensation.

Back in March, the newspaper Solikamsky Rabochiy carried an article titled “An Equation with Three Unknown Quantities” whose author Alexander Zhurbin named several potential candidates for the head of the Solikamsky district assembly. Dmitriyev claimed hurt by the passage dedicated to him, which said that “Yevgeny Dmitriyev is not nearly as charismatic or eloquent as the LDPR leader [Vladimir Zhirinovsky]; and that “He is to solve a pretty difficult dilemma – whether to resign or carry on with his GUFSIN [federal penitentiary service] career. He would be more likely to solve it if the district assembly head’s seat were reserved for him. But one can be 100 percent sure it is not.” The plaintiff claimed those phrases caused him to feel “extremely nervous” and subjected him to “acute moral suffering”. He demanded an official refutation and RUR 30,000 from Solikamsk-MEDIA in moral damage compensation.

Turning his claim down, the court referred to Paragraph 9 of the RF Supreme Court Decision “On Judicial Practices on Individuals’ Claims for Protection of Honor and Dignity, and Legal Entities’ Claims for Protection of Business Reputation” of February 24, 2005. The decision says, with reference to Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention and Article 29 of the RF Constitution, that the courts deciding this kind of cases should differentiate “between statements of facts that can be verified and evaluative judgments, opinions or contentions that are not subject to defense in court because, … as expressions of a defendant’s individual views and opinions, they cannot be checked in terms of their accuracy”.

Yevgeny Dmitriyev challenged the ruling before the higher-standing regional court of Perm which considered his protest in July and left the primary court’s decision in full legal force.
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TAJIKISTAN

Government-disliked newspapers will not be printed

The release of several weeklies that have caused the government to frown will be suspended in Tajikistan, the newspaper Vremya Novostei has reported.

According to VN, one of the printing houses in Dushanbe that used to print the weeklies refused to continue providing its services. Radio Liberty’s local office has reported, with reference to a printing house manager, that the relevant orders came from the presidential administration which had decided that five weeklies – Paikon, Ozodagon, SSSR, Millat Borgokhi and Sukhan – had grown “too impertinent”.

The past few weeks have seen the Tajik press ever more frequently criticizing President Emomali Rakhmon for authoritarianism and nepotism. The newspaper Paikon, for one, featured an article by Social-Democratic Party leader Rakhmatillo Zayirov that mentioned “signs of a personality cult putting brakes on national development”. In an interview for another newspaper, Zayirov urged the Tajik president to resign.

[Lenta.ru report, August 4]
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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

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

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Bella Ksalova, Caucasian Knot correspondent, Karachai-Cherkess Republic).

Attacks on journalists – 3 (Elena Kostyuchenko, Novaya Gazeta reporter, Moscow Region; Artyom Melnik, journalist, Yekaterinburg news agency Apelsin – attacked in Perm; Alexander Afanasyev, photo correspondent, newspaper Moy Rayon, St. Petersburg).

Instances of censorship – 1 (Persona TV show, Samara).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 2 (Sergey Mikhailov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Listok, Altai Republic; Svetlana Yarosh, editor-in-chief, TTV company, Krasnodar Region).

Illegal sacking of an editor or journalist – 2 (Mikhail Vansyatsky, editor-in-chief, regional supplement to Argumenty I Fakty weekly, Chuvashia; Sergey Volkovinsky, editor-in-chief, newspaper Zarya Timana, Komi Republic).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 9 (Elena Kostyuchenko, Novaya Gazeta reporter, Moscow Region - twice; Yuri Timofeyev, Radio Liberty photo correspondent, Moscow Region; Mari Bastashevski, photographer from Denmark, detained twice – in Dagestan and Moscow Region; Rostislav Koshelev, BaltInfo photo correspondent, Alexander Afanasyev, photo correspondent for newspaper Moy Rayon, and Mikhail Obozov, photo correspondent for newspaper Yevropeyets – all from St. Petersburg; Andrzei Zaucha, chief of Polish TVN channel’s Moscow office, detained in Tver Region).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 18, worth RUR 324,005,000.

Earlier claims against journalists and media, considered – 12, satisfied – 6, total amount of moral damage compensation charged – RUR 480,001.

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.) – 17.

Threats against journalists and media – 2 (Sergey Mikhailov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Listok, Altai Republic; Magomed Khanmagomedov, journalist, Chernovik weekly, Dagestan).

Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 1 (newspaper Zarya Timana, Komi Republic).

Closure of media – 13 (newspapers Kupi-Prodai, Issledovaniye I Proyekty, Abagan.ru, Globus-Info, Gazeta Dlya Znakomstva, and Chelnymarket, magazines Dvoryanskoye Gnezdo, Moy Vybor, Agrofaktum, and Argus, publication IDEI, news agency Kama-Press, and radio show Studio 13 – all based in Kazan, Tatarstan).

Purchase (confiscation, arrest) of print run – 2 (newspaper Fakty s Argumentami, Lipetsk Region; newspaper Zarya Timana, Komi Republic).

Interference with Internet publications – 8 (web portals Ingushetia.org, Mediacorset.ru and YouTube.com; website Marker.ru, online archive Web.archive.org; online library Lib.rus.ec, Thelib.ru and Zhurnal.ru).

Release of duplicate (i.e. rival) newspapers – 3 (newspaper Petrovskiye Novosti, Ivanovo Region; newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti, Maritime Region; newspaper Zarya Timana, Komi Republic).

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 24.

***

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

http://cpj.org/2010/08/over-protests-medvedev-signs-bill-expanding-fsb-po.php
http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/russia/2010/08/100805_rus_press.shtml
http://www.zagolovki.ru/daytheme/ximki_les/05Aug2010
http://www.lenizdat.ru/a0/ru/pm1/c-1091871-0.html#1
http://www.komikz.ru/2009-03-02-17-43-29/2773?task=view
http://info.ifex.org/View.aspx?id=218253&q=226044195&qz=dfb646
http://echo.msk.ru/news/701444-echo.html
http://www.kommersant.ru/doc-y.aspx?DocsID=1484423
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OUR PUBLICATIONS

Journalism – a dangerous profession

By Yuri Chernyshov,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

After a relative decrease of the number of legal claims filed against journalists and media outlets, the journalistic profession is again coming to the focus of public attention.

The daughter’s house of Salimshan Gaisin, a prominent journalist and the editor of the newspaper Ogni Povolzhya based in Balakovo, Saratov Region, went ablaze late on June 15. Addressing a news conference three days later, the journalist said he was convinced that that was not an accident but an act of revenge for his publications censuring the local authorities’ poor performance.

The fire broke out late at night, when everybody in the house was asleep and all electric devices were switched off. The tenants, who managed to survive by a pure miracle, paid attention to a BMW parked nearby, in which a man and a woman sat recording the fire on a video camera. Asked who they were, they only uttered some curse words and drove away after the burnt house collapsed. “Come on, let’s go, it’s over now,” the victims heard them saying as they were starting the engine. As established later, the car belonged to the owner of a local pub. A fire brigade arrived too late for anything of the property to be rescued. According to preliminary estimates, the damage amounts to more than RUR 800,000. Even the fire fighters agreed it was deliberate arson: the electric wiring was in the house was in full order, but an empty Molotov cocktail bottle was found lying nearby. The police have launched an investigation. Gaisin suspects some high-ranking local officials of having had a hand in the arson.

Lydia Zlatogorskaya, head of the regional branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union, spoke at the news conference to express solidarity with the victimized journalist and say she had already sent an official appeal to the regional prosecutor, Vladimir Stepanov. The appeal listed “indirect evidence of the house having been deliberately set on fire as an act of revenge for Gaisin’s professional efforts” and urged the prosecutor “to use all his official authority to take the investigation process under personal control and ensure that the arson version is duly checked and the names of those are identified who ordered and carried out this appalling act of crime against … freedom of expression”.

Fellow journalists decided to hold a fundraising action in support of S. Gaisin. Sergey Pochechuyev, editor of the Konspirologi.ru website, contributed RUR 5,000 there and then, urging his colleagues from about 20 relatively well-to-do newspapers to follow suit, which some of them did. Gaisin thanked all sympathizers, among them a group of regional Duma deputies, for their help.

The regional branch of the Yabloko Party to which the journalist belongs made public a statement reading, in part, as follows: “We see the incident as linked not only with Salimzhan’s strictly professional activities but also with his active life stand and his consistent work in defense of human rights. He has contributed in many ways to the investigation of a variety of corruption schemes, office abuses by local officials, and numerous election law violations.”

Very regrettably, violent attacks inflicting bodily and material damage on journalists, and persecution of reporters probing socially significant themes and exposing numerous corrupt practices have been turning into something of a daily routine in the region of Saratov.

The very day when Gaisin’s daughter’s house was set on fire, the commission supervising the implementation of President Medvedev’s address to the nation had held a news conference entitled “Dirty PR Technology Employed by the United Russia Party (URP)”. Four panelists reported on achievements and problems in their respective sectors and produced documentary evidence of the pressure exerted on them – specifically by what was described as “the URP-controlled group of media”.

A report was also made by sports journalist Vladimir Yefimov who is also head of the Public Commission on Physical Culture and Sports and editor-in-chief of the Mestnoye Vremya-Saratov news agency. He described the state of things in the Sports and Recreation Complexes (SRC) in the cities of Yershov, Khvalynsk, Pugachev, Volsk and Rtishchevo, noting that only the latter one fully meets the official requirements to this kind of facilities – only because it belongs to the local branch of South-Eastern Railways Co. and is beyond United Russia’s reach. The Ice Palace in Volsk was commissioned with numerous construction defects, and other SRCs have worked significantly below their capacity, he said. Yefimov’s speech was accompanied by the show of slides featuring the deplorable condition of SRCs. In his view, it was in response to his website publications about abuses by the managers of sports facilities and educational institutions in Saratov that the local branch of the URP launched this pressure campaign – “a real hunt” for him and other commission members. The May 13th issue of the weekly Politdozor featured an anonymous article titled “Public Scrutiny – God’s Eye” which accused V. Yefimov of committing acts (including group acts) of paedophilia during his inspection trips to SRCs. The journalist responded by filing an official report requiring the Investigative Committee under the regional prosecutor’s office to institute legal proceedings against the anonymous author who had publicly charged him with committing a grave criminal offense. He got a reply message saying his report had been forwarded for checking to the investigative unit of the Saratov police department in line with Article 150 of the RF Code of Criminal Procedure. Yefimov does not rule out that, “given a thorough investigation into the ‘paedophilic elements’ of my SRC inspections, the author of the dirty lampoon may go to jail together with S. Yegorova, editor of the scandal-prone weekly, as the person who signed the issue for printing and is legally liable for its content”.
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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.
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Editor-in-chief: Alexei Simonov

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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