Дайджест
10 Сентября 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 489

TOPIC OF THE WEEK
Article 31 dissenters’ rally dispersed again

EVENT OF THE WEEK
Statement by members of Presidential Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights

RUSSIA
1. Republic of Khakassia. Editor targeted for telling truth
2. Perm Region. Media group loses in court on three-year-old claim
3. Samara Region. Legal claim against newspaper turned down
4. Moscow. Law enforcers defy law
5. Samara Region. Weekly remains under pressure
6. Sverdlovsk Region. Police officers refuse to read Media Law
7. St. Petersburg. New cable TV network seen as pre-election propaganda tool

BELARUS
Opposition journalist found dead

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

OUR PUBLICATIONS
No comment… Continued from Digest 484 (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/748#pub )
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TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Article 31 dissenters’ rally dispersed again

Yet another rally in defense of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution was held in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square August 31.

Similar actions were staged in many other Russian cities, as well as in London, Tel-Aviv, Helsinki, New York, Berlin and Brno. But in Moscow, the rally was again dispersed by the police who, as usual, outnumbered the protesters.

The question is why the Moscow authorities should be afraid of demonstrators as much as they are.

Shortly before the action, the Russian premier said in an interview for Kommersant Daily, as if by chance, that all sorts of dissenters would have “police clubs go down on their heads”, a statement that many interpreted as encouraging violence.

The message went through all right, and Moscow’s police deputy chief, Maj.-Gen. Vyacheslav Kozlov, hastened to announce that any reporters covering the protest would be detained on the spot. Moreover, the brave general threatened to use police force even against European parliamentarians watching the dissenters’ rally, among them Human Rights Committee head Heidi Hautala, her deputy Laima Andrikiena, as well as Tijs Berman and Christine Partelpog – why not, the premier gave the go-ahead!

General Kozlov stressed that all participants in the unauthorized action would be detained, taken to the police station, and then brought before a justice of the peace with duly compiled protocols of administrative offense. “The algorithm of police actions has been well tested over the years in different situations, including protests in Triumfalnaya Square – nothing new will be invented,” he told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

About a thousand police servicemen, determined to “restore law and order”, cracked down full weight on defenders of the Constitution’s Article 31 which stipulates: “Citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to gather peacefully, without arms, to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, street processions and pickets.” The police took pains to hold the reporters at a distance to prevent their recording of how toughly the detainees were being handled – “much more toughly than during the July 31 rally,” according to Ekho Moskvy’s editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov.

European Parliament head Jerzy Buzeck denounced the “disproportionate reaction of the Russian police and special task units to people’s exercising the fundamental democratic right to freedom of assembly”.

On the positive side, one may note that European parliamentarians were left alone, after all. Secondly, Moscow police chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev ordered installing security cameras around Triumfalnaya Square for the Public Council under the City Police Department to subsequently watch the recordings and draw conclusions as to the lawfulness of police behaviour – if they ever bothered to do that, of course.

A meaningful detail: the dispersal proceeded near a house with a no less symbolic number – 31…
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EVENT OF THE WEEK

Statement by members of Presidential Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights

September 6, 2010

A month has passed since Ella Pamfilova resigned as head of the Council – a fact we are still regretting because it was due to her efforts that our Council was established in the first place. Ella used to be our real leader who achieved a lot as regards defending public interests and facilitating the dialogue between authorities and society. Over the period since her resignation, public attention towards the Council has grown considerably; its performance has been extensively discussed and commented on in the media with focus on achievements and problems, and, naturally, the reasons for its chairwoman’s resignation. The latter topic hardly ever needs to be discussed additionally – Ms. Pamfilova herself explained her motives in detail in numerous interviews for the leading media, among them Ekho Moskvy, Sobesednik, Novaya Gazeta, etc.

We would like to stress that, despite the chairwoman’s resignation, the Council has continued to operate. Problems of considerable public interest, like the future of the Khimki forest, amendments to the Forestry Code, the Interior Ministry reform (as well as other directions of civil society and human rights development – military reform, changes to NGO legislation, corruption-combating efforts, the North Caucasus situation, etc.) have remained high on the Council’s agenda. It may as well be noted here that the Council has been drawing public attention to the Khimki forest problem since 2007 and to forestry legislation changes and the ongoing forestry reform (which became one of causes of the large-scale forest fire tragedy) since 2009. Since the beginning of this year, several Council members have been discussing ways of reforming the Interior Ministry system. Our working groups have been preparing new proposals on those issues and gathering material for a regular meeting with the RF President on strategic aspects of judiciary reform, mother-and-child policy, and ways of de-Stalinizing public conscience. We intend to discuss all those matters at a Council working meeting scheduled for September 14, of which we will be sure to inform the press.

The Council has been finding it difficult to work without a leader; under the circumstances we have only been able to prepare assessments and gather material – but not conduct a meaningful dialogue with government and management bodies, nor press for our proposals to be duly considered and approved. In our view, the limited working capacity of the Council has been putting brakes not only on our own activities – it may be weakening the President’s position by depriving him of an independent source of information and one of the major channels of communication with civil society, and thus generating misunderstanding between the government and the public. That is why we are hoping the President will appoint a new chairperson soon.

The statement was signed by 28 Council members:

Svetlana G. Aivazova; Lyudmila M. Alekseyeva; Lev A. Ambinder; Alexander A. Auzan; Svetlana A. Gannushkina; Valentin M. Gefter; Alexei I. Golovan; Yuri D. Dzhibladze; Kirill V. Kabanov; Sergey A. Karaganov; Sergey V. Krivenko; Yaroslav I. Kuzminov; Ida N. Kuklina; Fyodor A. Lukyanov; Tatyana M. Maleva; Elena L. Nikolayeva; Dmitry B. Oreshkin; Elena A. Panfilova; Mara F. Polyakova; Boris P. Pustyntsev; Alexei K. Pushkov; Alexei K. Simonov; Svetlana I. Sorokina; Mikhail A. Fedotov; Sergey A. Tsyplenkov; Gariy D. Chmykhov; Igor Y. Yurgens; and Irina E. Yasina.
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RUSSIA

1. Republic of Khakassia. Editor targeted for telling truth

By Mikhail Afanasyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Early on September 2, Pravda Khakassii (PK) staffers found thoroughly mucked-up stacks of newspapers at the door to their office. “United Russia activists must be up to it again,” they thought. Yet they were wrong – the action turned out to have been schemed by the Communists this time: lying on top was a Xerox copy of the decision of a party meeting in the village of Vershina-Tyoyi that read: “To consider the distribution of issue No. 35 of September 1, 2010 politically inexpedient, and return 1,750 copies thereof to the distributor.”

Erik Chernyshov was invited to take over as editor-in-chief of Pravda Khakassii, a newspaper issued by the Communist Party’s local branch, last year. He agreed on the condition that the founders would not meddle in editorial policy. That seemed acceptable, since everybody needed an interesting and readable newspaper. Erik decided against publishing lengthy, monotonous and boring speeches of party leaders and turned PK into a really exciting newspaper featuring journalistic investigations, authors’ columns and responses to readers’ complaints. The circulation started growing regardless of advertising. Two staffers were honored by the RF Journalists’ Union Prize as winners of a nationwide journalistic contest in 2009. The editor-in-chief was nominated for the Andrei Sakharov Award “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.

Yet officials of the republican administration kept complaining to the party’s First Secretary (who is also head of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Land Tenure of the Supreme Council of Khakassia) about each fresh number of PK – they had felt more comfortable with the old-time newspaper’s carrying transcripts of party leaders’ addresses to various plenary meetings.

Under Erik Chernyshov, Pravda Khakassii exposed corrupt bureaucrats and stubbornly refused to feature tedious official stuff. And the Moscow-based Pravda regularly reprinted PK stories written by the editor-in-chief and other authors.

Finding themselves unable to persuade the editor to switch to the “right” kind of publications, the republican Communist Party leaders started to prepare a PK reshuffle. Evidently, the above-mentioned copy of the decision taken by a village party meeting marked the first step along that path.

The PK staffers have nothing against parting with the founders from the republican CP Bureau – to get down to really serious work against bureaucratic arbitrariness. They are willing to defend people’s rights in real terms, rather than rubber-stamp party documents sent to the Central Committee for reporting purposes.


2. Perm Region. Media group loses in court on three-year-old claim

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The Leninsky District court in Perm has considered an honor, dignity and business reputation protection claim filed by V. Rozhikhin against the media group Permsky Obozrevatel Ltd. and required one of its newspapers, Permsky Obozrevatel (PO), to pay the plaintiff RUR 5,000 in moral damage compensation and as much to reimburse the cost of his lawyer’s services, plus RUR 20,000 for a forensic linguistic study and the state fee.

Back in May 2007 PO carried an article titled “Well-Wishing Swindlers”. The story, in brief, was as follows: a Perm resident, Vladimir Rozhikhin, had persuaded an 83-year-old lonely woman to give him her apartment as a gift. Instead, he promised (orally, with no written obligations) to provide her with alternative housing. When the deed of gift was ready, Rozhikhin helped the old woman to move into his acquaintance’s apartment – in the author’s view, to hide her away from other people’s eyes – where she stayed in full isolation until the transaction was officially registered.

The author, A. Yusupova, wrote that story based on the deceived old woman’s complaints to the prosecutor’s office and district court, and the results of the ensuing criminal investigation. The facts she cited were fully true to life as per that time… But no court hearings followed. Eighteen months later Rozhikhin filed a claim in defense of his honor, dignity and business reputation, but the court turned it down. It had turned it down several more times before suddenly accepting it early in 2009 (sic!). The plaintiff demanded half a million rubles in moral damage compensation and was awarded part of that amount, which decision was confirmed by the higher-standing regional court in May 2010.

What is it that so seriously changed the court’s attitude three years after the publication? The case files include a written statement by the lady pensioner saying she withdraws her claims against Rozhikhin because “he did nothing wrong to me”. This means he is clear before the law, although the facts cannot be checked again now: the old woman died in 2007, and the lady owner of the second apartment where the victim had allegedly been kept against her will passed away shortly afterwards. With no witnesses available, the newspaper nevertheless was found “partially guilty” of publishing “unchecked” information.

A piece of advice to fellow journalists: keep all your documents and files long – very long! And pray for the good health of the characters of your publications.


3. Samara Region. Legal claim against newspaper turned down

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The city court in Zhigulyovsk, Samara Region, has turned down a business reputation protection claim lodged by Y. Stepanov, director of the Strela public transport company, who demanded a refutation of “libelous” information published by the newspaper Zhigulyovsky Rabochiy and RUR 200,000 in moral damage compensation.

The plaintiff saw the publication “Speak Lounder, the Driver is Deaf!” about public transport problems fraught with potential road accidents as undermining his business reputation. To prove that, he presented official letters from the central public transport company in Samara and the Samara-based transport certification center. The first document, signed by company director N. Zavalishin, characterized Strela’s performance positively and censured the publication as unfair. Yet it also acknowledged that the article did not cite a single fact of Strela’s negligence or omissions, meaning that the author only expressed his personal evaluative judgments. The second letter, signed by certification center director V. Krasnov, too, recommended that the journalists be “fairer” in assessing the transport company’s performance.

The court agreed that the publication did not undermine Strela’s reputation in any way and only featured the author’s assessments, opinions and argumentation protected under Article 29 of the RF Constitution and Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention.

The defense (represented by a member of the Grand Jury of the RF Journalists’ Union) prepared and published a critical story about the poor organization of passenger transportation on two public bus routes in Zhigulyovsk, based on personal evaluations and not naming a single official who might be charged with omissions related to the low level of services or potentially dangerous technical condition of the bus pool. As a result, the court turned Stepanov’s claim down in full.


4. Moscow. Law enforcers defy law

Police have again visited the office of The New Times magazine to make a search and confiscate documents underlying the publication “OMON Slaves” in which servicemen of Moscow’s special police complained about unbearable service conditions and abuses of office by their commanders. The search ended in the seizure of all transcripts of journalists’ interviews with OMON servicemen.

Back in February, the city police department’s (GUVD) investigative unit instituted criminal proceedings in connection with that publication on charges of libel (Article 129 of the RF Penal Code), and shortly afterwards the interviewed OMON servicemen said they had never met with reporters at all. The journalists saw that as a result of pressure put on the interviewees. If you come to think of it: in the wake of a critical story about GUVD, it was the GUVD that carried out the checkups, instituted the criminal proceedings and has ever since conducted the investigation. Isn’t that too much for GUVD alone? Can one really expect the investigation to be unbiased?

As we have reported, the previous police visit to The New Times office was on April 14. GUVD investigator Pilipenko and senior inspector Zalessky asked for the same transcripts at the time but were not allowed to search the office because the editor challenged the search warrant issued by the Tverskoy District court.

They came back on September 2 – this time accompanied by a masked police officer – and showed a search and confiscation warrant. However, they were invited to wait for the editor-in-chief, Yevgeniya Albats, who was due to arrive shortly. The lady editor declined to submit audio and video recordings, and referred to a Supreme Court ruling in full legal force.

That is when Police Col. Stanislav Pashkovsky, the operation commander, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling is nothing but “juridical lyrics”, Grani.ru has reported.

Actually, this light-minded attitude towards the law on the part of our law enforcers is no longer a surprise to anyone.


5. Samara Region. Weekly remains under pressure

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Problems have continued piling up for staffers of the newspaper Khronograf despite their repeated appeals to the law enforcers for protection.

“Since this year began, Khronograf journalists have repeatedly been threatened and come across resistance to, and interference with, their lawful professional activities related to news publishing,” editor-in-chief P. Sokolov said in his August 2 letter to the Glasnost Defense Foundation.

As we have reported, the first threatening phone call to the Syzran office of Khronograf came March 26, 2010 (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/751#rus3 ).

The editor’s message to the GDF further said:

“On June 9, in the wake of a publication titled ‘Dakhovnik Isn’t Claiming (State) Order’, two unknown men came to Khronograf’s office in Syzran. Without identifying themselves, they demanded the relevant newspaper issue from correspondent V. Tchaikovskaya and driver A. Seroshtanov who were in the office at the moment. They leafed through for the said publication, read it, and one of the visitors said menacingly: ‘Your dirty newspaper smears me for the fourth time already. Next time, I won’t talk to you anymore – I’ll bring a gun and shoot you all, you get it?’”

The newspaper reported those threats to the law enforcement bodies (the FSB, the regional and city police departments, and the investigative committee under the prosecutor’s office) which, however, failed to show understanding. Regarding the anonymous phone call, they said it had been “purely recommendatory” in its tone, and declined to institute criminal proceedings. Similarly, they refused to open a criminal case in connection with S. Dakhovnik’s threat “to shoot them all”.

“Clearly, the crime situation in the Samara Region and in the city of Syzran, in particular, is not controlled by the authorities. The developments around the Syzran office of Khronograf indicate a targeted persecution campaign may have been launched to put pressure on the independent media outlet and its staff, which may lead to undesirable consequences,” the editor’s letter said.

For the full text of the letter, see http://www.gdf.ru/lenta/item/1/760 .


6. Sverdlovsk Region. Police officers refuse to read Media Law

By Vladimiv Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

Police have been frequenting the office of the newspaper Oblastnaya Gazeta (OG) in Yekaterinburg in connection with last April’s story by Zinaida Panshina that gave an allegedly “distorted” account of communal service problems facing the village of Shamary.

Oddly enough, visits to the OG office have been paid not by investigators but by district police inspectors – first, by Capt. R. Zinatulin and Lt. N. Vydysh, then by Maj. S. Shvornyak. None of the officers showed the underlying complaint with story-related claims, but each behaved aggressively. Maj. Shvornyak’s request for a meeting with the author “to question her in connection with E. Kotov’s complaint” was not an official document – it was an ordinary sheet of paper with no letterhead, no stamp or seal, a misspelt title of the publication, and no date indicated. Yet the inspector said he was acting in line with the Police Law, was “not required” to know the content of the Media Law and did not “care much” about the journalistic profession’s specifics. Shvornyak, just as his colleagues, said they had come to “check the fact of a libelous story published” – although it is up to a law court to decide whether a publication is libelous or not.

His conversation with editor Nikolai Timofeyev did not last long. The major said he would only talk to the author of the story. Advised once again to read the provisions of the Media Law, he said again he was not required to know that piece of legislation. He went away without, however, visiting the author’s office…

The staffers are still wondering why the police have failed to spell out their specific objections instead of juggling with the notions of “libel” and “crime”. Significantly enough, the group of OG founders includes the regional governor and Legislative Assembly; if semi-literate police majors feel free to behave like that in respect of a big regional newspaper, their arbitrary treatment of small local media outlets seems well explainable.


7. St. Petersburg. New cable TV network seen as pre-election propaganda tool

By Roman Zakharov,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

A long-awaited project has been implemented in St. Petersburg: the city administration launched a cable television network of its own to be able to influence the viewers. The project will be generously financed with the funds allocated under the budget section of “socially significant TV programs”.
 
The new network will be laconically titled “Sankt-Peterburg”. The city will be its sole shareholder, according to Vice-Governor Alla Manilova (herself a former journalist, by the way). With RUR 60 million slated for disbursement under the project until the year’s end, the authorities are looking for “other potential investors as well”.

In the administration’s view, the inauguration of the new TV channel is a good example of cooperation between the government and private business. Sankt-Peterburg programs will be put on the air with assistance from the city’s largest cable television provider TKT-TVВ as well as an NMG subsidiary, Channel Five – a former municipal network on which Governor Valentina Matviyenko used to pin her best hopes in the past. Channel Five has pledged to provide technical assistance and personnel: its former staff was dismissed without employees’ consent to be transferred to the newly established organization. But the popular daily show Peterburgsky Chas and the weekly show “Dialogue with the City” (with the governor’s participation) will be shown on both channels.

There are other reasons why the new company was conceived as a cable network: the shortage of frequencies for conventional air broadcasting, its high cost, and the time-consuming registration formalities. The first shows are scheduled for October 10. Some politicians and analysts have suggested this haste may be attributed to the administration’s desire to tap the new channel’s full potential during the 2011-2012 election campaign (a broadcasting organization is required to have operated for at least a year to be entitled to receive budgetary reimbursements for showing televised pre-election debates).

The Smolny [the official seat of the St. Petersburg government] has entrusted the new network’s management to Yuri Zinchuk, head of the Press Committee, who earlier led the NTV branch in St. Petersburg. Naturally, he had to part with his government service. The editor’s-in-chief post went to the TKT-TV director. Generally, NMG participation in the project looks quite logical, considering the reputed closeness of its head managers to the top-level federal leadership.

The city’s journalistic community, known to have felt pretty quiet about many previous administration decisions, is all boiled up now – you can hardly find at least anyone who is happy about the new channel’s establishment. The most turbulent clashes are over the budget-sourced financing. Although Mr. Zinchuk has told a news conference it will not be too large (which is true by the measures accepted on TV), people feel angry someone else has again decided they will have to pay for the project from their own pocket. Also, they are not trusting promises that the new channel will not be all pro-Smolny…
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BELARUS

Opposition journalist found dead

Opposition journalist Oleg Bebenin, the founder of the Khartiya 97 website, was found dead in his country house near Minsk September 3, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

A source at the Belarussian Interior Ministry said the journalist had committed suicide – his body was found hanged by the neck.

Bebenin’s colleagues, however, are rejecting the suicide version. “The constriction mark on his neck signals either suicide or homicide,” Khartiya 97 editor Natalia Radina told Gazeta.ru. “I’d known Bebenin for 14 years; he was full of new plans. We agreed to meet on Monday, and he was in high spirits on the day of his death. I can’t believe he committed suicide.”

Bebenin, 36, left a widow and two sons. Earlier, he was a deputy editor-in-chief of the Belarussian newspaper Imya, and edited the opposition website since 1998. In one of his interviews he said he had been abducted by unidentified persons in 1997, who had driven him to a forest and threatened to show him “how to behave nicely towards the authorities”. Later they had released him, taking away his wallet and cell phone. The criminals were never tracked down.

During a series of searches in the offices of opposition media last March, the police seized the largest number of computers – eight – at Khartiya 97, one of Belarus’ leading opposition Internet resources.

[Kasparov.ru report, September 4]
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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION

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

Deaths of journalists – 2 (Malika Betiyeva, reporter, Dosh magazine, Chechen Republic; Magomedvaghif (Sultan) Sultanmagomedov, editor-in-chief, Makhachkala-TV Company, Makhachkala).

Instances of censorship – 3 (media in Nizhny Novgorod Region; Serebryany Dozhd radio station, Moscow; Severouralsk-online.ru website, Sverdlovsk Region).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 3 (Irina Moiseyenko, editor, municipal newspaper Zarya, Maritime Region; Alexander Sorokin, freelance journalist, Kemerovo; Ilya Vilkevich, head of Young Journalists’ League, Perm Region).

Unlawful dismissal of editor/journalist – 3 (Lyudmila Stakhovskaya, deputy editor-in-chief, newspaper Zarya Timana, Republic of Komi; Nadezhda Vasina, editor-in-chief, newspaper Novaya Zhizn, Vologda Region; Daniil Pankstyanov, editor-in-chief, Reporter news agency, Sakhalin Region).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 8 (Vitaly Shushkevich, editor-in-chief, Besttoday.ru website, Moscow; Veronica Maksimyuk, freelance photo correspondent for newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; Anastasia Krivoshanova, stringer for newspapers Moskovsky Komsomolets and Komsomolskaya Pravda, Moscow; Alexander Litoy, Novaya Gazeta correspondent, Tula; Zoya Svetova, observer, newspaper Noviye Izvestia, and Ilya Ruchin, freelance photo correspondent, Saransk, Mordovia; Alexander Redin, reporter, newspaper Rabochaya Pravda, Moscow; Ilya Vilkevich, head of Young Journalists’ League, Perm Region).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 21, worth a total of RUR 19,730,000.

Earlier claims against journalists and media, considered – 15, satisfied – 5.

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.) – 37.

Threats against journalists and media – 1 (newspaper Khronograf, Samara Region).

Ejection of publication, etc. from its premises – 1 (newspaper Krasnoye Znamya, Republic of Komi).

Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 2 (newspaper Arzamasskiye Vesti, Nizhny Novgorod Region; newspaper Svetlogorye, Kaliningrad).

Closure of media – 2 (radio show Glavniye Ekonomicheskiye Sobytiya Nedeli; newspaper Svetlogorye, Kaliningrad).

Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 1 (newspaper  Pravda Khakassii, Republic of Khakassia).

Interference with Internet publications – 12 (including VirtualnayaVyksa website; websited of district administrations across Nizhny Novgorod Region; websites in Amur Region; RosLesoZashchita website; and Ura.ru website).

Administrative pressure (sudden inspections by sanitary, fire, tax-collecting and other services – 1 (newspaper Tridevyaty Region, Kaliningrad)

Other forms of pressure and infringement of journalists’ rights – 29.

***

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

http://www.svobodanews.ru/content/article/2145559.html
http://www.t-i.ru/article/15834/
http://uraldaily.ru/obshchestvo/2912.html
http://www.respublika-kaz.info/news/politics/10491
http://altapress.ru/story/55718/
http://www.lenta.cjes.ru/?m=9&y=2010&lang=rus&nid=11080
http://www.barentspress.org/ru/news/42/78/zhurnalisty-karelii-nazvali-chinovnika-zasluzhivshego-antipremiyu-klyap.html
http://www.barentspress.org/ru/news/51/78/sudyu-v-karelii-nakazali-za-vosprepyatstvovanie-rabote-zhurnalista.html
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OUR PUBLICATIONS

No comment… Continued from Digest 484 (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/748#pub )

By Tamara Makarova, Republic of Komi

Last week saw the conflict between the newspaper Zarya Timana’s (ZT) staff and its newly appointed editor-in-chief shifting onto a judicial plane. Hearings at the city court of Sosnogorsk commenced under the watchful eye of Judge O. Dudina September 1. Of the eight plaintiffs, four were present, with the rest requesting to have the case heard in their absence for reasons of a maternity leave, health problems, or holiday tours. Those present included I. Petrov, deputy head of the district administration, and I. Vedoinik appointed to lead ZT instead of the former editor Sergey Volkovinsky whom Petrov had dismissed.

The republic’s Press Agency was not represented at all, having asked the judge to consider the case in absentia. It had not presented either a legal claim or a document confirming the fact of Vedoinik’s candidacy having been duly coordinated prior to her appointment. Evidently, the agency, a ZT co-founder, intended to wait and see what the conflict between the two other co-founders would result in.

That day’s proceedings ended in the plaintiffs (who are unwilling to obey the new editor’s orders in view of her unlawful appointment) drawing the conclusion that they should have specified their claims and determined the group of trial participants in the first place, as well as attempted to settle the dispute by filing a notice of appeal, rather than a legal claim proper. It was not until September 1 that a prosecutor’s checkup established that orders on Vedoinik’s employment had been issued twice – July 29 and July 30, meaning that the plaintiffs were to challenge not one of those orders but both. Secondly, the plaintiffs had demanded back in August that I. Vedoinik be immediately prohibited to subject them to disciplinary sanctions. But the court had evidently thought that it would not be a problem to reinstate the unlawfully dismissed journalists, if any, and had failed to take due preventive measures. In the meantime, the new editor had begun quietly firing employees who failed to report to the office in view of a pending court decision – among them deputy editor-in-chief L. Stakhovskaya. Quite unexpectedly, I. Petrov said in court that two more ZT employees had been fired – chief accountant Irina Pritchina and editor Tamara Makarova, with notices of dismissal received only two days afterwards.

Now, a few sketches from the courtroom.

As we stood in the lobby waiting to be summoned by the judge, several defense lawyers from the number of good old friends of ZT’s came running by. They stopped to ask how we were doing and to wish us every success…

Once inside the courtroom, we presented an internal regulation, the editor’s-in-chief job description, which said he or she was required to have a higher education and prior managing experience of at least 5 years. The judge read the document with interest. My representative in court, S. Volkovinsky, asked the newly appointed ZT editor-in-chief, a construction engineer by training and a former sales head-manager:
- Did you ever publish any story in a newspaper?
- No comment!
- Have you ever written anything for the press?
- No comment!
- Did you at least edit your school newspaper?
- No comment!!!

That reminded me of a woman partisan refusing to answer a German officer’s questions during World War II …

Mr. Petrov and Ms. Vedoinik did not bring to the courtroom anything but their passports and a power of attorney from the administration, although the court had requested that they prepare a whole number of documents for the first hearing. “The plaintiffs should have tried themselves to obtain those documents!” Petrov objected angrily. So I asked Irina Vedoinik:
- If I asked copies of your work record card and your university diploma, would you give them to me?
- No.

No comment…

The judge asked I. Vedoinik:
- Do you recognize the legal claim’s validity?
- No.
- Why? Would you explain, please?

After several failed attempts to get at least any intelligible explanation, the judge left it at that. Ms. Vedoinik was unable – or unwilling – to talk…

Court ushers appeared to be on our side. As I was going through a radio-metal locator at the exit, I noticed an usher, whom I had got to know due to my frequent visits to court in connection with actions against the closure of small schools, in defense of disabled citizens, or to settle election disputes, casting a quizzical glance at me:
- Any news?
- They’ve begun firing us one after another.
- Whom?
- The chief accountant. Me too.
- You too???!!!
- Yes. You may soon have the entire ZT staff gathering here in court to defend our rights…

____________________________________________________________________________

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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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